Strong wind with the smell of saltwater flowed in from the open window that faced the balcony.
The slope which faced the sea and came down from the peak of this rocky mountain was levelled into the shape of a huge stairway, and innumerable houses with white walls were standing in a row, clinging to that place. This land, which was placed between a sea at its front and a precipitous cliff at its rear, was a fort rather than a picturesque scenery.
Attacking it from the cliff’s side was impossible, and one had to use ships and send in soldiers from the seaward side to attack, but to reach the castle that was located at the peak of the rocky mountain, one must go up the terrain which was in the shape of a stairway consisting of 9 layers. However, it was structured where one must pass through a meandering and narrow hill road to go up one layer of that stairway; moreover, a small watchtower gate would always be placed in the middle of it.
On the hill road where its width was narrow, numerous soldiers couldn’t make an assault all at once. In addition, the soldiers who had barely cling to the watchtower gate would be poured with boiling hot water and oil from above before breaking through there and be forced to retreat. There was no army which had crushed 9 such obstacles and attacked as far as the peak until now.
An old man, who had went out to the balcony of that impregnable small castle, stared at the sea and narrowed his eyes. Countless small wrinkles which signified the years he had spent were carved on his skin which was tinged with red like that of a Chinese date. Although his age surpassed 50 and was probably close to 60, his physique was excellent. The military uniform with a mantle and the sword, including its scabbard, which was held in his left hand, suited his imposing physique well.
The old man quietly unsheathed the sword from its scabbard.
「In case of a battle in the sea」
Blocking the sunlight with the sword’s blade, the old man muttered.
「…I truly don’t think we’ll fall behind other countries. However, if it comes to a battle on the land, simple numbers will demonstrate their effectiveness」
「It’s as you say」
A young soldier who was standing in the room’s corner where the sunlight didn’t reach answered the old man’s mutter. This person was still young. He was probably in the first half of his twenties at the most.
「With a thing like this…even I’ll be able to use magic?」
「It’s not omnipotent. You can consider it as one of the convenient tools and weapons to the end」
「…You’re really clever」
Shaking his white beard, the old man closed one eye and stared at the blade. On the sword blade that brilliantly reflected the sunlight, some patterns seemed to be faintly carved in bilateral symmetry on either side of the back of the blade.
「However…though it’s one of the weapons to the end, if other places are preparing them, we’ve no choice but to possess the same things too…」
「Though it seems that this sort of thing isn’t maintained in Aurillac yet, perhaps in Amaddo, it’s something whose research is progressing considerably—」
「Then, that woman is a subordinate of Amaddo?」
「It’s difficult to understand to that extent, but」
Straightening the disorder of the white tie that decorated his neck, the man replied after one mora (a unit of metrical time equal to the duration of a short syllable).
「—If that woman is a subordinate of Amaddo, even if she came to contact us having some sort of aim, it’s a fact that we obtained new weapons」
「Is it…a quantity of the degree where they can be used as weapons on the battlefield…?」
「50 swords and shields, and 80 spears」
「In which case…allocating them to the elite guards and they’re finished at best…」
The old man, who had nodded with a long sigh, quietly put the sword back into its scabbard.
Lightly brushing his long forelock away, the young man opened his mouth without a moment’s delay.
「—Though we can’t catch them in our country very much, it’s said that wild pigs are extremely delicious」
「However, it ends there if we finish eating the wild pigs. —If so, what should be done to continue savouring that deliciousness from now on?」
The old man looked back at the young man over his shoulder, increased the wrinkles on his mouth and smiled bitterly.
「…You’re indeed clever, but because you’re clever, everything you say tends to be too exaggerated…that’s fine when talking to people and making them understand…but such a manner of speaking is futile on me」
The young man who was called Cyril bowed politely with a “pishii”.
「…I know this is something that goes without saying for His Highness, but then, I’ll say it candidly. Even our country ought to mass produce things which are similar to that」
「…Can it be done?」
「Allow me to do it」
「Maa…I can’t let our country fall behind Aurillac…」
The old man, who had come back into the room from the balcony, passed the sword to Cyril, arranged his mantle and sat on a sofa.
「—What about Lampitor?」
「She’s attending to the preparation for departure. The preparation for the warships can also be done within a few days, but the land route’s side will take more time…」
「Fumu…it’s her first campaign, huh…」
「I believe there’s no need to doubt her ability」
「I’m not doubting that…; however, that woman not only supply weapons like this, but also inform us of Aurillac’s activity, and her real motive is unknown…tell everyone not to be negligent even a little bit」
Cyril bowed very deeply to the old man and left the room.
「—The royal prince-denka’s permission has been issued」
Passing the sword to the soldier who was waiting outside the room, Cyril ordered in a low voice.
「Send 3 of each swords, shields and spears respectively to the army’s arsenal; send the remaining to the elite guards so that they can master them immediately」
「And prepare a carriage too」
「Are you returning to the capital?」
「If it’s just me, I’ll return by horse. His Highness is also going back」
Cyril narrowed his eyes while walking in the corridor where its windows were small and wasn’t sunny.
「When one has been spending a long time in such a place, any fortitudinous soldier will degrade into an ordinary old man who passes the rest of his life embracing a cat. I don’t want His Highness—Oji-ue to become that kind of defeated person」