Let the Wind Blow at Dawn
In Amaddo that had the “Hill of Seal”, there was a Seal Chivalric Order that was formed to protect the seal.
Although the Amaddo’s crown prince, otherwise a young man of the royalty who possessed the succession right to the throne, served as the Seal Chivalric Order’s leader for generations, the commands of the group were substantially entrusted to the vice-leader. Each group member was a young person from a respectable family, and being selected as a member was supposedly a very honourable thing. But in reality, to be called a combat group was something that had become distant already.
On the other hand, the intensity of the group members’ elitism grew, and there were mentions of it becoming an exclusive group.
Its current leader was the sole son of the present king, Jeffren Francesc the 11th, Crown Prince Jeffren Isaac.
On the morning of that day, a spy on the mayor’s side, who had attempted to intrude into the new town areas, was brought to a perfectly displeased Hokon.
If this was a mere prisoner, Hokon wouldn’t need to go out of his way to interrogate him. Considering that Hokon had personally taken it upon himself to ask, then it was because this spy held important information.
「…Let me ask you one more time」
Hokon, who was ruminating while walking aimlessly inside the study, stopped his feet suddenly and looked at several letters that were placed on the desk.
「Will the reinforcement from the capital really arrive tomorrow night?」
The prisoner, whose hands were tied behind his back, bit his lips and faced away as he knelt before Hokon. Even if the soldiers who were standing on both sides poked him with their toes, there was no sign of him opening his mouth.
Hokon picked up a letter and silently read it once more.
What the prisoner had, were secret messages addressed to the people who were participating in the rebel army. It was written that the Amaddo’s reinforcement would likely arrive at Seriba tomorrow morning and speedily subjugate the rebel army, thus it wished for them to surrender and collude with them (mayor’s side) before it was too late. Simply put, it was a letter which urged a surrender to split the rebel army from the inside.
“Kushari”, Hokon crushed it into a ball and questioned him further.
「To whom were you planning to send these to? And are there any other people whom you’ve sent identical letters to?」
「I can also put you through torture at once though」
「Oi, that’s enough—」
The soldiers who had dragged the prisoner along vented their irritations before Hokon did.
But when Hokon reined them in, he clapped a little in front of his chest and,
「Investigate this prisoner’s identity. There should be at least one or two relatives or close friends on our side」
The prisoner who had faced away the whole time until then looked up at Hokon as if he was surprised.
「It can’t be helped if he doesn’t wish to talk. Let’s have someone among his relatives shoulder his crime. It’s truly—a sad thing」
「P…please wait! That sort of—」
「Hou…as I thought, such a close person exists?」
「You’re keeping quiet again? Ma, very well. —Please search for his relatives and b
ring them to the courtyard. Have it done by noon」
「W, wait! Please wait!」
Hokon coldly looked down at the prisoner who had opened his mouth again and combed down his moustache.
「…Until I’m satisfied, if you carelessly keep your mouth shut again, then at that time, I’ll really locate your relatives and crucify them. I truly…truly dislike wasting time you see」
The prisoner oozed cold sweat and hung his head.
「…Then let me ask you again. Is the story of the reinforcement true?」
「A, an unfamiliar girl came to the town hall at dawn and said that reinforcement from Roma is heading here—」
「Who’s that girl?」
「I, I don’t know. …But the mayor was very humble, so she might have been a messenger who is a distinguished person of central or something…」
「And…after I talked with the mayor for a while」
「He gave you this special mission?」
「T, that’s right…he said to deliver this letter to Montreuil-san somehow—there seemed to be four, five soldiers who were given similar mission, but I don’t know where they went…」
「I’m certain that he’s a distant relative of the mayor」
The soldier who was on standby beside Hokon softly whispered into his ear.
「He didn’t get along with the mayor very well since the past. He’s a wealthy person and has been providing us funds in exchange for his personal safety」
「A narrow-minded person who has neither thoughts nor ideals…that sort of man will turn traitor again immediately if it becomes inconvenient, which is often the case」
「What’ll you do?」
「I’ll have to think this through」
It was easy to capture and get rid of the town’s influential people who had the possibility of betraying him without the need to argue. After all was said and done, the one who held real power was Hokon.
But setting aside when the rebellion succeeded completely, at the current stage where the mayor’s side had yet to surrender, to judge the influential people who had offered him their collaboration would incite the antipathy of the masses on his side. In addition, if the rumour of the reinforcement coming from the capital were to spread, Hokon’s situation would deteriorate in one breath.
「I might ask him something else again. —Throw him into the underground storehouse. Don’t let him escape this time, understand?」
After the prisoner was marched off, Hokon asked the soldier who was his close aide.
「…There’s still no contact from our country?」
「Ha…it seems that the condition of His Majesty’s health isn’t satisfactory—」
「What a ridiculous rumour!」
Hokon rejected his close aide’s words and clenched his fists.
「—If I raise an army here, His Majesty will definitely respond to it! For the sake of crossing that mountain range and mowing down those fellows who boast of being gifted with God’s wisdom, our troops which had received the blessing of Marido will come! Until then, I’ll never give up!」
「B, but—in that case, what’ll you do?」
「We’ll pulverise the opposition force which is barricading themselves in the town hall before Amaddo’s reinforcement arrives. We’ll take the town hall, and capture the mayor and the stationing troops’ commanding officer. Afterwards, we’ll blockade all the gates, fortify our defence and attack the enemy’s reinforcement」
「T, that’s, in other words, we’ll hold the town? Even though we may not know when the reinforcement from our country will arrive—」
「They’ll come! Without fail!」
「More than that, what happened to the escaped Dominas and her Hiera Glaphicos? Are they not caught yet?」
「…In the early dawn, several soldiers had discovered them in the town’s western forest, but hindrance came in…」
「Did they fail to catch them?」
「I, I’m sorry. …However, it may be impossible to escape as the Hiera Glaphicos had sustained fairly severe wounds. Perhaps it was the soldiers on the mayor’s side who had obstructed them」
「Then the town hall is sheltering the Dominas?」
「There’s no positive proof but—」
At any rate, the top priority attack target of Hokon didn’t change. Whether the information about the reinforcement from the capital arriving tomorrow night was true or not, the conclusion would be settled for now if the town hall fall by today.
「There may be similar letters that had reached the others. Send soldiers to the important wealthy merchants and influential people immediately, and enquire them of the authenticity. …Even if they follow us now, there’s no certainty that people who will become restless and betray again won’t appear once they learn that reinforcement is coming soon」
Hokon ordered the soldier and sat down on the sofa. When he was alone like this, he’d let out a sigh as expected.
Although he lost the power struggle within the army and was ousted from the country, Hokon had run through many battlefields until now. He was proud of both his mind and body not wasting away despite being past 40 now and also had a strong spirit of presenting this town that would become a bridgehead to invading Amaddo and returning triumphantly to Bigerou.
However—Hokon was aware that this was his weakness though—it was unfortunate that Hokon had few subordinates whom he could trust.
This Seriba which was located at the southern end of Amaddo had interactions with Bigerou at a civilian level since a long time ago. There were many southern people and mixed bloods with southern ancestry who had migrated from the other side of the mountain range living here. If the feelings of alienation and discontent which were potentially held by such people were stirred up in a skilful manner, it was easy to cause a rebellion.
Although the rebel army was built up like that, the ones whom Hokon could actually rely on were only his ex-subordinates who were simultaneously expelled from the country and had wandered together with him here, and they numbered less than 30. The citizens who sided with them due to dissatisfaction towards the central government could still be said to be better, but there were also many citizens who couldn’t help but to side with them because of the surrounding circumstances; such people would probably defect to the mayor’s side readily if Hokon’s situation worsened.
Due to such significance, Hokon didn’t trust his entire army. His deep sigh might have stemmed from that anxiety.
「…The story of the reinforcement is true」
「Medou, is it?」
Hokon laughed while sitting on the sofa. The woman who was completely dressed in black would aim at the time when Hokon became alone and called out to him abruptly. But when this was repeated so much, he had an inkling of that timing somehow.
Hokon then spoke without looking back at Medou.
「Do you’ve comrades in Roma? Where did you obtain such information from?」
「My comrades are all over the world. …And you seemed to have let the Dominas and her Hiera Glaphicos escape, no?」
「I didn’t let them escape. I’ve cornered them to the town hall」
「Did you allow your subordinates to use such sophistry since the past? If so, then it’s only to be expected that you lost your standing」
「I’m already used to your wicked tongue. —So, what do you need? It’s rare for you to appear during the day」
「I only wish to give a farewell before I leave here」
Hokon looked at Medou suspiciously.
「Do you not understand unless I say it clearly? —I’ve given up on you. The rebellion will be subjugated tomorrow」
「You haven’t even seen it with your eyes until the end—」
Clicking his tongue, Hokon stood up.
But when he looked back again, the figure of Medou wasn’t anywhere already.
Hokon simply stood still alone in the study where sunlight was shining upon it.
Now that he thought of it, Medou didn’t show up in front of others besides Hokon, and Hokon himself also didn’t even inform his trusted subordinates about Medou.
It suddenly seemed as if the existence of the woman called Medou was an illusion or something, and Hokon stared at his hands.
Now, only this gauntlet which Medou had given him indicated her existence.
The Commanding Officer Mazzali of the stationing troops looked down on the town’s map that was spread over the table and groaned with a bitter expression.
「…Certainly, as long as the reinforcement from the capital arrives, it may be easy to subjugate Hokon’s rebel army. But if this town hall were to fall before that, it’ll become difficult. Therefore, the question is whether we can resist the enemy’s attack until the reinforcement’s arrival or not…」
「Please do hold out」
Aloof to Mazzali’s distressed expression, the girl before him announced indifferently and simply.
「In any case, the reinforcement won’t arrive early. Hence, I humbly request that the stationing troops as well as the commanding officer rouse themselves here」
「Humbly request, you say…」
「We wouldn’t have hardships if we can really rouse ourselves with such words, you…」
The plump mayor who was resting his chin in his hands on the table threw a glance to the woman who named herself as the Dominas’s attendant. But if Mazzali were to say his true feelings, then he wanted to glare at the mayor. After all, this middle-aged man with the principle of peace at any price concealed the fact that a Dominas had come to this town the whole time. Although he thought “I see” when he heard of the part where it was a top secret mission, nevertheless, there was probably no need to make it a secret even to him who was the person in charge in the military aspect.
When Mazzali cleared his throat deliberately, he approached the window.
「Needless to say, we intend to devote all of our power for the sake of the motherland. …But will the reinforcement really come?」
Each and every remark of this woman named Thial was short, and on top of that, she was unsociable. Maybe something was boring as she was making a seemingly displeased face the entire time. Moreover, perhaps she had a little of the southern people’s blood mixed in, she had black hair on a light brown skin and black eyes. If Mazzali had met her alone, he’d never believe that she was a Dominas’s attendant. Mazzali secretly beckoned to the mayor.
「W, what’s it, Commanding Officer?」
「…Can we really trust this woman? In fact, the possibility that she’s a spy on Hokon’s side—」
「But this child has the decree, and she also knew about the contents of last night’s conversation which are known only to Dominas-sama, Hiera Glaphicos-dono and me, you know? If so, she isn’t a spy right?」
「In the first place, isn’t it too late to say such things now? We’ve already dispatched spies as per what that child had said—」
「You know…wasn’t that something you did without my permission? Why didn’t you discuss a word about that with me? To make matters worse, you made the civilians as spies and sent them to that side—」
Mazzali desperately held down his anger towards the mayor who had said things as if he was an outsider and shook his voice slightly.
「B, but, that was Hiera Glaphicos-dono’s instruction—」
Mazzali turned his gaze away from the mayor and approached Thial.
「—Where’re Dominas-sama and Hiera Glaphicos-dono? I’d like to meet them directly and hear about the story. Besides, there’s the issue of security…if we don’t assign guards」
「Guards aren’t necessary」
Thial curtly declared so.
「Besides, Dominas-sama is currently in the middle of the top secret mission so she can’t come here」
「B, but—in that case, if there’s danger to the pair…!」
「You don’t have to worry about that. I can’t say the details, but “reinforcement” has already arrived at that side」
Thial pulled the chair without making a sound, stood up and bowed respectfully.
「…I sincerely hope that you’ll keep the matter of Dominas-sama coming here a secret…」
When Thial left behind such words and departed, Mazzali immediately called his subordinate.
「—Oi, secretly follow that woman from just now」
「Hey, hey~y! W, wait just a moment, you all!」
The mayor panicky detained Mazzali and the subordinate.
「W, what’re you planning, Commanding Officer—do you still suspect that child?」
「I’m sorry, but I can’t be optimistic like the mayor」
「C, commanding Officer!」
As the commanding officer and the mayor were arguing, another soldier rushed into the office.
「What’s it? What happened?」
「I, it’s the report from the scout! T, the movement of the rebel army’s soldiers is becoming hurried!」
「C, Commanding Officer! Those guys aren’t planning to begin an all-out attack at last, are they—」
「…Or rather, weren’t the spies whom you sent in caught immediately?」
「Eh? W, what do you mean?」
Slightly fed up with the slow-witted mayor, Mazzali looked down at the map.
From the start, Hokon must have anticipated that Amaddo’s reinforcement would turn up shortly in Seriba that was at a politically delicate location.
But if the reinforcement arrived quicker than expected, Hokon’s rebellion which was unable to gain total control of Seriba would end in failure. Hokon was probably well aware that the weakness of his plan lay there.
Mazzali scratched his head with a “bori bori” and put on his hat.
「…I think the spies who were sent to the other side were caught and the information that reinforcement will arrive was leaked to the other party. Due to that, Hokon became impatient and began preparation for an all-out attack」
「W, what did you say∼y!?」
「If he suppresses this town completely, even if the reinforcement comes, he can shut the ramparts and hold the town for half a month or so. In the meantime, the situation will reverse again if reinforcement from Bigerou comes」
「W-w, what should we do, Commanding Officer!?」
「There’s one thing that we’ve to do. …That girl from just now also said it right?」
「What did she say again?」
「To hold out, until reinforcement arrives」
If it was tomorrow night and the reinforcement arrived, and if they could carry out a clear indicator of shifting to a counterattack, the morale of the soldiers, who hitherto were exhausted from defending against attacks that occurred be it day or night and pressured by the numerical inferiority, would rise.
「—Convey this matter to the ordinary citizens too, and recruit volunteer soldiers. After that, you don’t have to think about what comes next. Bring out all the food and wine, and treat them to everyone. …If we hold out until tomorrow midnight, we can win!」
Mazzali issued instructions to his subordinates and lined up coins on the map. Where and how much military force should he deploy—he must organised the preparations for interception before the enemy’s all-out attack began.
「Err—…Commanding Officer? What should I do?」
「For the time being, please show your face occasionally at that balcony, and lavish compliments on the soldiers and civilians who are working there」
「I, is it fine with just that?」
「It’s a job that only you can do」
Mazzali answered without looking back at the mayor.
Even if it was a rumour or a joke, if talks that the mayor had escaped from the town hall and the like spread, people would judge that there was no chance of winning and lose their will to resist. It was easy to prevent that by having the person himself diligently appeared in front of the people.
「…I’m sorry, but even if the reinforcement doesn’t makes it in time and this place falls, I must have you remain in the town until the end together with me」
Glancing at the mayor, who was waving his hand with a triumphant look on the balcony that overlooked the town hall’s courtyard, over his shoulder, Mazzali warped his lips inside his mind.
Perhaps a conflict had started somewhere already, violent shouts roared from a distance.
Valeria, who was leaning against a tree trunk with her right leg stretched straightly, squinted at the setting sun that shone through the foliage and asked suddenly.
「Isn’t your strategy a little rough?」
「…What’re you saying at this time?」
Dimitar, who was restoring the magic crests (Furigana: Hierateka) of Valeria’s right knee, took a deep breath greatly and raised his face. Was it the effect of having slept from dawn until around noon? His complexion seemed to have improved considerably.
Valeria grimaced at the pain that was similar to her knee being scraped off with a “chiri chiri” and continued.
「Because…in the end, you informed both sides that reinforcement is coming, right?」
「I informed the mayor’s side only」
「But that information was leaked to Hokon immediately, wasn’t it?」
「I’ve foreseen that and given instructions on this and that; otherwise, I’ll be troubled」
「However, the battle started because of that, you know?」
「What’re you saying now? Battles take place repeatedly every day」
「Be it but or however, you’ve a lot of contradictory conjunctions」
Dimitar stopped his hand that was drawing magic crest and held it over Valeria’s knee. He was alleviating the pain that arose when drawing magic crests.
Dimitar, who had recovered after a brief rest, ate hurriedly and went back to restoring Valeria’s magic crests like this. The restoration of her left hand’s magic crests had already finished and as long as her right knee was over and done with afterwards, the inconvenience of using one type of magic would disappear. Naturally, there was a need to return to the capital and get them restored to their complete forms, but this was sufficient as a stopgap measure on the battlefield.
Lucius took Thial, who had played an active part in this and that, and went to scout out the battle formation on Hokon’s side. Bettina who had waited continuously for Valeria to come back without a wink of sleep last night was sleeping close by while wearing her armour.
Therefore, although it wasn’t the case, the air was somehow heavy. It might be only Valeria who felt that the air was heavy, but at any rate, she couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable to be face-to-face with Dimitar like this.
Valeria cleared her throat slightly and asked.
「…So, what should we do after this?」
「We’ll beat Hokon up」
「Iya, that’s why I’m asking about the specific method—」
「Grab the nape of his neck and pummel your fists into his face. I’ll stab him for the finishing blow」
「My meaning of specific is different! I’m asking about the method to reach Hokon!」
「…You still don’t understand?」
Dimitar glanced at Valeria’s face fleetingly. There, a smile, which she had often seen until now and as though making fun of people, appeared. Although it was as irritating as ever, she could feel that the boy’s imprudence was mysteriously and conversely reliable.
「If Hokon knows that reinforcement is coming very soon, he’ll probably become desperate to take the town hall by today, since he has no chance of winning no matter what he does after the reinforcement comes」
「So why’re you kindly informing him this? The matter of informing mayor-san is still understandable but—」
「If the rebel army sets out for an all-out attack to hasten the conclusion, their military force will naturally concentrate on the front line. The vicinity of the old rampart which divides the new and old town areas will become the first battleground. The rebel army will attack the old town areas with this as a reference point, and the the stationing troops will try to force them back somehow」
「If it turns out as such…what’ll happen?」
「…Their military force will gather there, you know? It becomes clear if you think about it」
“I see!” Valeria clapped her hands.
「And when I had thought that the pursuing soldiers haven’t come into the forest since then, were all of them perhaps sent around to the front line? This means that they don’t have military force to spare here? Is that it?」
「That’s not exactly wrong」
Dimitar brushed his neck and smiled bitterly.
「…The army, which maintains its bulk at the front line and becomes reliant on the front, will become short-handed in the rear; especially in the case of wishing for a short decisive battle. Therefore, Hokon will likely invest his main military force mostly in the front line」
「Ah…that means that the soldiers will be gone from Hokon’s surroundings?」
「They may not be completely gone, but the opportunities which we can take advantage of are sure to increase. …We shall attack there」
「What’s it this time?」
「Why did you change your perspective suddenly?」
Dimitar who was drawing magic crests from her kneecap to her shin raised his face quizzically.
「Even though you said nothing but “go back, go back” to me until midway」
「The one who didn’t listen to what people said was you right? And are you dissatisfied that I sided with the obstinate you?」
「It’s because Lucius-sama objected」
「Given his position, he’d have done so. There’s the matter of Oba-sama too, and even he had barely violated the military laws and rushed here. If you make a blunder here and really lose your life this time, the Richternach House will disappear from the world」
「Hold on…it’s like you’re saying that it’s someone else’s fault somehow!」
「It’s a fact that the underlying cause was that you disregarded my opinion at the start」
When he brought that up, Valeria had no words to respond.
「…Ma, either way, it might be because Lucius had judged that there’s a chance of success in this plan that he gave in」
「Is that so? Somehow, it seems that Lucius-sama is very soft on you」
Dimitar raised his face again and stared at Valeria fixedly.
「W, what? Did I said such a strange thing?」
「Iya…in short, I guess that’s the reason why you are displeased with me. You’re the same as Thial. It seems that she isn’t pleased with Lucius spoiling me too」
「You think that was the only reason why I dislike you? You’re so simple」
「I intend to look at reality more than you do. —How’s this?」
Dimitar sighed and hit the girl’s kneecap lightly.
Valeria put on her boots, got up and gathered her consciousness in her right leg. Red glowing phosphorescence ran from her thigh, through her knee and to her ankle. There were still many lines that had disappeared, but if she had this much magic crests, she might be able to use magic without difficulty.
「—I guess it’s troubling that you don’t have your tabard」
Being told so again, Valeria, as if she had remembered her appearance now, hurriedly hid her breasts and the area around her navel with her hands.
「W, where’s the mantle!? Hey!」
「It seems that the dirty mantle has surprisingly become your favourite」
「It can’t be helped right!」
Dimitar threw the mantle over to Valeria and walked towards Bettina.
「—Though you’re new, if a Dominas is robbed of her tabard and treasured sword by the barbaric believers, and ran home shamelessly, this long-awaited achievement will lose its value. For the sake of raising my evaluation as well, I’ll have you succeed in life」
「Is that all for Lucius-sama too?」
Without saying anything, Dimitar casually kicked Bettina’s bottom.
「Oi, Gacha Pink」
Bettina who was fast asleep jumped up to her feet at the shock that was transmitted from her tailbone.
「Don’t be half asleep. The day is getting dark soon. We’re starting to move」
As though matching those words, Lucius and Thial came back.
「Are you ready, Dii?」
「Yeah, we’re almost done. Any further restoration can only be entrusted to the main institution’s specialist. …So, what about those guys?」
「It’s as expected at the present. The rebel army has mustered a considerable war potential at the front line」
「This’s not necessarily good. If the stationing troops can’t hold this onslaught at bay, the town hall will fall before you defeat Hokon. Even victims will appear greatly, you know?」
「Her Eminence will defeat Hokon before that」
「Her Eminence, is it…」
Lucius combed his long beautiful silver hair upwards and smiled wryly. Such black and plain clothes which shunned public gaze were unsuitable for the gorgeous Lucius. When she thought that Lucius had purposely put on such guise with Dimitar in mind, her begrudging envy towards Dimitar reboiled with a “futsu futsu” again.
「—Is this fine, Valeria-jou? You really won’t regret it?」
However, Valeria smiled sweetly.
「If I think that everything will be for Lucius-sama at the end, I can endure any amount」
「No no, I’m speaking to myself. —Well then, let’s go, Richternach-kyou」
Valeria quietly pulled up her bustier beneath the mantle and began to walk.
Valeria and party waited for sunset and climbed the rampart. In the passageway where soldiers should be in swarms last night, there wasn’t a single person now. It seems to be true that the military force was invested into the front line as much as possible.
「…They haven’t forgotten that we exist, have they?」
Despite it being a convenient development for them, Valeria somehow felt like the existence of herself who was a Dominas was ignored and wasn’t amused.
「They probably thought that Valeria-jou had taken refuge in the town hall」
「Either way, they wouldn’t have expect us to come jumping in」
The Dominas whose magic crests were erased and the Hiera Glaphicos who had sustained severe wounds—for this pair who should have barely escaped alive to come back shortly again, Hokon certainly might not have anticipated that.
「Just a minute, don’t take command so proudly! It should be me right!? Setting aside if I back down and concede this point to Lucius-sama—」
「You’re extremely fussy」
Dimitar clicked his tongue with a sigh mixed in and jumped down from the rampart without hearing Valeria’s fault-finding to the end. Although he got in the last word each time, seeing him like this, it looked like his injuries had become fairly better.
「Let’s go, Valeria-jou」
Valeria directed a smile which had suddenly changed just now to Lucius, to the extent where even she felt that she was self-interested, and ran after Dimitar. Her right leg’s magic crests which were just restored a while ago created a wind, killed the acceleration skilfully and let the girl’s body land softly.
As it was the place where she had escaped from once, she already knew Hokon’s whereabouts. It might take the time to say “ah!” if she used magic and ran swiftly.
「—Thial, Bettina-jou, I’ll leave that place to you」
「I, I’m going off!」
Thial who had bowed slightly and Bettina who had bowed respectfully with a “gachin” got off the dim road and ran away. The strategy—essentially, it was thought up by Dimitar alone—was that Valeria would break into Hokon’s headquarters while Thial and Bettina became decoys and attract the enemies’s attention.
「—Valeria-jou. If we break in, please allow me to take separate action」
Lucius said while running on top of the private houses.
「Although it’s almost certain that Bigerou has nothing to do with this time’s rebellion, perhaps there may be evidence that indicates the existence of a Bigerou’s spy」
「Understood. It’s regrettable that we can’t go together, but—」
「It’s all right, you’ve Dimitar」
Was it because his name came out? Dimitar looked at Lucius silently.
「Take care of Valeria-jou properly all right, Dii? You promised, you know?」
Dimitar replied curtly, took an especially large step and leaped in one breath. Jumping over many private houses and clearing even the high wall, he landed in the back yard of Earl Boske’s villa that had become the rebel army’s headquarters.
Valeria followed him and flew into the empty sky. If it was the usual, she wouldn’t use magic so cheaply, but she didn’t want to be carried and transported by Dimitar in Lucius’s presence.
「…To have that degree of difficulty escaping is ridiculous」
Dimitar who had hidden himself in a thicket muttered while arranging his breathing quietly.
「Don’t say such things, Dii」
Lucius who had landed softly after Valeria chided Dimitar.
At that moment, a pillar of fire rose in the south.
「…It has begun」
「Lucius-sama, that…what’s it that’s burning?」
「It’s the windmill spire which is beside the south gate for drawing well water. If Hokon intends to choose the plan of holding the town after suppressing it, it’ll be a severe blow to him for that to burn down」
「If he realises that it’s burning, he surely won’t leave it alone」
As though supporting the pair’s words, the premises became noisy at once. When they held their breaths inside the thicket, many soldiers rushed out and ran in the direction of the back gate.
Lucius undid the clasp of the sword on his waist and said to Valeria.
「If you successfully capture or kill Hokon, convey it to the soldiers on both sides immediately and put an end to the battle. …That’s your role, Valeria-jou」
「Well then, Dii, I’ll be going」
「Yeah. We’ll manage this side, so you do well too」
「That’s my line」
Lucius brushed Dimitar’s hair with a “kushari”, stood up and began to run. It was possible that movement might be faster than Dimitar. As one would expect, the title of the Seal Chivalric Order’s (Furigana: Templar Aegis) vice-leader wasn’t just for show.
「…We’re moving too」
「Ah , un」
Valeria kept close to Dimitar and came out of the thicket. Dimitar had already drawn out his sword.
Valeria changed her tone a little and pointed at the villa’s third floor.
「—I think that people with important positions would generally sleep in the highest place that can command a view of other people, but how about you?」
「Is there a commander who would sleep in the midst of an all-out attack? —But maa, I agree with the idea of attacking from above. Lucius seemed to have gone from below」
Dimitar carried Valeria, who was about to use magic and jump again, under his arm and started running. After an approach run of merely five, six steps, he jumped greatly.
「Just a min—」
「Reserve your magic for knocking down Hokon. It looks like this’ll become a showy exchange of shots」
When Dimitar who had descended at the third floor’s balcony in one go released Valeria with movement that had no hesitation, he wedged the edge of the knife which he had pulled out from his boot into the window’s crevice, loosened its clasp from the inside and unlocked it.
「…You really don’t do this sort of things as your occupation, do you?」
「Can’t you be quiet and watch people do their things?」
Dimitar returned her question with a question and crept into the room through the window that had been quickly opened. It seemed to be someone’s bedroom, but there was no sign of life.
Dimitar rushed over in a trot to the door connecting to the corridor and turned its knob quietly.
Just when he opened the door slightly, sounds which were similar to several men running around noisily were heard from below.
「No way—was Lucius-sama discovered!?」
「I think he let himself be discovered on purpose」
Dimitar went out to the corridor and observed the left and right.
「…Which way do you think it is?」
「What’s the basis?」
「When we were going up to the balcony just now, I saw that only a room at the eastern end was illuminated」
「…You seem to have learnt to put your wit to work a little」
「You’re totally rude!」
Valeria waved her mantle and began to walk down the corridor. So as not to be discovered by the enemies or the like, without thinking of such things, she headed for the room at the eastern end with a “noshi noshi”. Now that she had come this far, she planned to face the enemy’s ringleader openly instead of moving sneakily.
On the verge of doing that,
「! There’re intruders!」
As soon as she approached the place that was a well as far as the first floor, voices came from below. When she unintentionally looked, there were several soldiers at the hall below, and they were looking up this way and shouting.
「The intruder here is a decoy! Protect the General!」
「Don’t let them escape!」
Valeria drew back her neck and looked back at Dimitar.
「W, what shall we do!?」
「…Weren’t you calm because you had some plans?」
「I, isn’t that obvious! So that my feelings don’t lose, I’ve thought that much and—」
「I don’t think you’ve to put on airs but…for now, it’s evident that Hokon is ahead」
Dimitar who had glanced at the door beyond the corridor swung his sword and shouted.
「Destroy the stairs here! We can buy time with that!」
Valeria raised both hands as she was told. Her right hand’s magic crests created a scorching flame, and her left hand’s magic crests produced a violent whirlwind. Mixing those two together, the bright red flame turned into a maelstrom and surged forth.
The flame that had spread onto the staircase connecting from the hall on the first floor was fanned by the wind and increased its force. It rose like a wall at once and obstructed the soldiers’ path.
Dimitar who had easily destroyed another staircase urged Valeria and began to run.
「E, even though I told you not to take command!」
Valeria, who had promptly ran right after Dimitar and tumbled into the room through the door that Dimitar had kicked open, quickly ran her eyes over and searched for Hokon’s figure.
It seemed like that place was the study of this mansion. There were bookshelves which were fully stored with books lined up against the wall, and there were a comfortable-looking sofa and study desk placed by the window.
And then, the man who had spread a map on that desk stared at Valeria with a look of surprise.
「Hokon, prepare yourself!」
After flowing-like movements that resembled a dance, she strongly stamped her left foot. Thereupon, a gale which gave the impression of a kamaitachi welled up from her toes, tore up the carpet and approached Hokon.
「I never expect you to come back here—!」
Hokon’s look of surprise soon changed into a fearless smile. Just before Valeria’s “Tornado (Furigana: Razor)” turned the desk right into halves, Hokon jumped to the side to avoid it and stuck out his right hand.
Hokon’s fingertip which was facing Valeria’s chest accurately deviated sideways due to a book that had flown from the side.
「You’ll experience pain if you ignore me, you know」
Dimitar, who had thrown the book instantly and caused Hokon’s aim to go astray, kicked down a chair and plunged in.
「Are you the Hiera Glaphicos—」
Hokon’s eyes alternated between Valeria and Dimitar. He might be hesitant about who he ought to defeat first. That was, whether Dimitar shortened his distance with Hokon or Valeria prepared her next magic, too much of an opening.
「Lower your head, Richternach-kyou!」
An enormous wind blade skimmed and flew over Dimitar who had lowered his posture to the extreme. Hokon who had tried to fire the needle of light from a shooting arrow pose undid that stance with a click of his tongue, and stuck both his hands forward instead.
Immediately after, it made a great “katsun” sound, and the wind blade which Valeria had released was smashed up. A wall of invisible power had repulsed her magic.
Hokon, who had stepped back slightly and withstood the impact, attacked Dimitar in a flash.
「Was it you who did those unnecessary things—」
「I’m just doing my job. …I think the one who did unnecessary things is you」
「Shut up, boy!」
Hokon drew the sword on his waist and attacked Dimitar.
Unable to stop the force of Dimitar’s blow, Hokon staggered slightly. As expected, the differences in age and specialised skill might have been shown plainly then. Thereupon, perhaps Hokon had realised that it was foolish to cross swords directly; he stuck out his left hand while jumping to the rear.
Seeing thin lines of light running on the gauntlet’s surface, Valeria shouted.
「I don’t have the time to be bothered with you…!」
A mass of flame flew from the hand of Hokon who had spat out hatefully. In any case, this being the place, there was no lack of things to burn. In an instant, the fire spread to the books on the bookshelves, and the surroundings grew bright. It was a terrible misfortune for Earl Boske.
「Even if you don’t have that intention, we’ve a need for your neck」
Dimitar who had stepped to the front of Hokon’s chest in one breath unleashed an extreme upper swing blow. The body of Hokon who had stopped that with “Iron Wall (Furigana: Rampart)” was blown off just a little comically and went through the ceiling.
「Don’t let him go down」
「Although their numbers are few, his subordinates are below. If we poorly let them link up and escape, everything will be for nothing. …Isolate Hokon only as it is and finish this」
「But he can use various magics to that degree—」
「I don’t really understand, but it may be a device that’s similar to this Jagieruka」
Dimitar shouldered the sword that he held in his hand and looked up at the ceiling’s hole.
「He supplements his own magic crests that he originally possesses with that gauntlet’s magic crests. —It shouldn’t be an article that can be made in the rural areas around there but…we can only capture him and make him confess the truth of it」
「T, that’s true. —Anyway, unless we settle this!」
Dimitar restrained Valeria who had stepped on the wind with new determination and tried to pursue Hokon.
「Are you an idiot?」
「If you pursue him too directly, you may receive an ambush」
Dimitar carried Valeria under his arm and crossed the study while going round the flames gradually. He jumped out through the window, kicked the balcony’s handrail and leapt up.
「…Just like I thought」
When Hokon went up onto the roof, he stood ready at the edge of the large hole that he had opened. He probably thought of making a surprise attack when Valeria came running after him.
「—Oi, this way」
Dimitar casually threw Valeria into the night sky. The eyes of Hokon who was surprised and had turned around wandered between the girl and boy again.
「I said this way, didn’t I」
It was clear that Hokon’s awareness was drawn in by Dimitar’s provocative words. Facing Dimitar who had raised Jagieruka and ran, Hokon spread both his hands and adopted a posture to shoot an arrow of light. Although they hadn’t arranged beforehand, concerning the result, it was an effective combination of Valeria and Dimitar.
「Normally, it’s not that way, right…!」
As she complained seemingly irritated, Valeria rearranged her posture in the empty sky and drew two magic squares simultaneously with the magic crests on both her hands.
When Hokon’s right hand separated from the invisible bowstring, three arrows of light flew towards Dimitar at once.
At almost the same time, Valeria’s “Tornado” caught Hokon.
The two wind blades cut through the air and ran, hitting both of Hokon’s arms. Although the damage wasn’t to the extent where his arms were severed, at least with this, he might not be able to move both his hands freely anymore. His right hand especially, seemed to have injured its elbow’s tendon and blood vessel. A great deal of blood overflowed and began to dye the gauntlet which Hokon had worn red in the twinkling of an eye.
While ensuring that she could shoot a subsequent “Tornado” at any time, Valeria looked at Dimitar with a sidelong glance.
「…There’s no problem」
Dimitar who was walking slowly stared at Jagieruka’s blade fixedly.
「It can even erased the magic crests that were carved onto such a thing? It’s an extremely convenient tool. It looks like Chief Engineer will cry in surprise」
Dimitar tapped the excellently smooth blade with his finger and gazed at Hokon.
「…I’d like you to teach me of its origin in detail」
「D, don’t joke with me—」
Hokon strongly held down onto his right elbow and glared at the pair. However, his complexion wasn’t as clear as the shine in those eyes.
「I’ve always dream of the day when I’ll make a comeback to the motherland again…! In such a place, for a boy and girl to—」
「Give it up already, Hokon! You didn’t have the chance to win from the beginning!」
「What’s this girl who was caught by me once saying…!」
「To not have gotten rid of us easily at that time is probably the cause of your defeat」
Dimitar cut off Hokon’s words of resentment and smiled coldly.
「…Or do you give nothing but such excuses even if you fail in military operations? In that case, it couldn’t be helped even if you were ousted from the country」
Feeling that Dimitar seemed to be taking charge of this situation again, Valeria raised her voice a little. If she didn’t settle at least the conclusion herself, then she really didn’t save her face as a Dominas.
「There’re various things that I want to ask you, so I’ll have you come with us. First, inform the rebel army of an immediate ceasefire—」
「…Wait, Your Eminence」
Dimitar suddenly pulled Valeria who tried to step forward again towards Hokon towards himself.
The next instant, the roof at Hokon’s feet fluttered up sparks and collapsed.
It seemed that the flames had spread faster than expected in the mansion while Valeria was fighting. Speaking of which, the surrounding’s temperature had become much higher than a while ago, and when looking down at the garden, there were also figures of soldiers escaping from the mansion.
Hokon just managed to hold onto a beam and avoided falling. However, it wasn’t clear how long the middle-aged man whose both arms were wounded could endure. The study directly below was already filled in flames, and he’d hardly survive if he fell down.
Dimitar approached to the very limit and stretched his hand towards Hokon.
「It feels unpleasant that the prisoner dies. Grab on quickly. —Those injuries too, if we don’t stop the bleeding immediately, they will become irrecoverable, you know?」
「P, prisoner…you say?」
Hokon looked up at Dimitar and twisted his mouth hatefully.
「I’m yet, to be, caught…!」
「That’s enough of your sophism, middle-aged man」
「I won’t receive the disgrace of a captive—If I’m to be disgraced, then once is enough…!」
Perhaps Dimitar felt unrest at those words, he bent forward and seemed to be about to catch hold of Hokon, but Hokon had separated his hand slightly earlier.
Thanks to Dimitar standing up to obstruct her field of vision, Valeria didn’t witness that moment, but she clearly understood that Hokon had personally chosen death.
When she was in a daze before that reality, Dimitar covered her head with something.
「It’s still early to be in a daze」
Covering her from the head was her tabard that should have been taken away by Hokon.
「W, where was this?」
「The study from just now」
While feeling a little ashamed at herself who completely didn’t noticed it, Valeria took off the mantle and put on the tabard. Although she felt that its hem was short a little when she saw it for the first time—even now, a portion of her thighs were visible with her kneecaps exposed—as expected, she felt her body becoming tense when she wore this.
「Oi, didn’t I say it’s early to be in a daze? Don’t grin」
「I, I’m not grinning!」
She glared at Dimitar who had poured cold water on her transient joy.
「We’re going to stop the battle, right! I fully understand that!」
「Then I’ll be speeding up」
Dimitar carried Valeria under his arm and jumped down to the garden.
「—Hokon has died in battle!」
Dimitar crossed the space between the soldiers who were desperately trying to put out the fire while shouting so.
「Hokon has died! The rebellion is a failure!」
「W, what did he say…!?」
「Confirm it with your eyes if you can’t believe it! He was burnt to death in the vicinity of the study!」
Dimitar threw behind such words and jumped over the wall. He promptly jumped onto the roof of a private house, chose the shortest distance and headed to the front line.
「Nee! Is Lucius-sama all right, I wonder!?」
「He doesn’t have the baggage that is you, and is much more agile than me. He can run away as much as he likes. …He’s stronger than me, you know?」
Dimitar glanced at Valeria who was carried under his arm with a “jirori” and sighed.
「Leaving that aside, think about what to do with the soldiers. Unless you can make them believe that Hokon has died, the battle won’t end. …Now that it has come to this, it’s a pain that we couldn’t capture Hokon alive. —Oi, Your Eminence, what do we do?」
「Since their headquarters was burnt greatly to that state, afterwards is maa—isn’t it fine if I face down their opposition somehow with my dignity?」
「…Are you saying that seriously?」
「Yes. —In fact, Dominas must be able to do something like that, right?」
Valeria replied confidently to Dimitar who seemed doubtful.
「…I’ll do it and show it to you」
「It’s impressive that you can talk big to that extent when you’re being carried under the arm by people and moving」
「That’s enough, so hurry up! You’re being pointlessly talkative, Richternach-kyou!」
Dimitar’s speed became fast, and they steadily approached the rampart that separated the two towns and friends and foes. Under the illumination of the sparsely burning watch fires, several tens of soldiers were seen coming and going on the rampart.
「…To be specific, what’ll we do?」
「Basically, you just have to protect me!」
「Hai hai. …I’ll prepare the stage a bit, so wait a little while」
When Dimitar suddenly threw Valeria up high into the sky, he accelerated further and jumped onto the rampart in one breath.
If opposite from this place was the mayor’s side, then here was the rebel army’s side. But in reality, the present condition was that the rebel army was attempting to rush into the old town’s side where the town hall existed with this old rampart as the base. The stationing troops built a barricade right on the other side of the rampart and were defending well, but against the rebel army that was shooting arrows endlessly from above the rampart, they seemed to be forced to retreat gradually.
Therefore, Dimitar naturally appeared right in the midst of the enemies.
「First of all, you’re a hindrance」
Dimitar knocked down the soldiers who had wrapped red cloths around their arms one after another.
There, clad in wind and waving her tabard, Valeria descended. Although she staggered just a little, because she was thrown all of a sudden and she did that on the spur of the moment, it might still be preferable that she didn’t just fall unsightly.
「It’s the Dominas!」
「The Dominas is here!」
「…Your attitudes are big, you all」
Dimitar obstructed the soldiers, who had recovered from their surprise and came attacking Valeria, and kicked them around.
「Oi, Your Eminence. Give these guys a blow that’ll make them have no choice but to be quiet」
「Leave it to me, Richternach-kyou!」
Clearing her throat with a “kohon”, Valeria let both her hands fluttered in the night wind. Circulating magic power into the magic crests, she took more time than usual and drew complex magic squares. During that time, Dimitar defended against the arrows that came flying and the soldiers who came charging.
Together with the pompous words that she never use, Valeria stuck both her hands out.
「Hokon had already realised his defeat and committed suicide! All of you discard your weapons at once and surrender too! Otherwise—」
A stream of violent wind gushed out from Valeria’s two overlapping hands.
Fanned by the strong wind, the soldiers were blown off and fell over, falling from the top of the rampart one after another. Although it didn’t have the sharpness to cut their bodies, they might not be able to remain on the spot if they were swallowed up by it. Half-hearted arrows would no longer reach Valeria.
Without change, Valeria turned them towards the surroundings in a fan shape with a “guru~u!” and fired them. Due to that, most of the soldiers were brushed off from above the rampart of the vicinity. Incidentally, the nearby private houses’ roofs were torn off and blown away. It had turned into a terrible state.
However, it seemed that the rebel army’s fighting spirit could be temporarily weakened for the time being.
「Look at that proper~ly!」
Valeria placed her left hand on her waist and pointed to the south with her right hand. As there was hardly any illumination of the town, Earl Boske’s villa could be properly seen to be burning brilliantly even from here.
「Your headquarters has fallen already! Hokon has also committed suicide! Do you understand!? The rebellion has failed! Since reinforcement from Roma will arrive tomorrow, you’ve no chance of winning no matter what you do!」
「S, shut up!」
Weak voices came up from below the rampart.
「General Hokon won’t give up on victory so easily—」
Dimitar who was squatting beside Valeria and avoiding the wind until then, crushed the voices of refutation with his usual rudeness.
「If you think that Hokon is still alive, then this isn’t the time to be fighting at such a place, right? Return to your headquarters quickly and put out the fire before he turns into cinders! …But then again, only his burnt corpse will be found there!」
「In, in any case!」
In order not to let Dimitar seize the initiative, Valeria raised her voice further.
「If you still don’t surrender even with this, I’ll thoroughly burn you with a flame storm this time! You understand what kind of thing, this Dominas me, Valeria Costacurta’s power is a little now, right—it’s all right if you discard your weapons obediently and surrender, otherwise, I won’t be merciful! There’s no need to wait for the reinforcement, I’ll dispose the entire rebel army myself!」
There weren’t disturbing voices this time. Although the soldiers’ expressions couldn’t be confirmed one-by-one, it was clear that unrest was spreading out among them. It was a hard to deny fact that their headquarters was blazing up flashily. Moreover, the sense of anxiety that they had no chance of winning if Hokon’s death was true might have shaken the rebel army’s soldiers.
Dimitar who had stood up spoke close to Valeria’s ear.
「—In times like these, it’s the carrot and stick approach. Since most of these guys were instigated and thus participated, now that Hokon has died, use cajolery like not charging them with crimes in particular or something and give them a push again」
Valeria nodded slightly and opened her mouth again.
「—Now that the ringleader, Hokon, has already died, if the citizens remaining here can cast away your ill feelings and live peacefully, I can personally make a request to His Majesty the King not to look into the crimes of the people who had participated in the rebellion in particular—that’s why, all of you discard your weapons quickly!」
At Valeria’s words, a new quiet commotion spread out. There might be people who felt doubtful w