金金金Noel company returned to the capital around the same time that the rebel army left Rockbell. A great number of soldiers were moving toward the capital, and reports of invasion had already arrived. The total forces of the rebel army that had taken the name Red Circle Army numbered five thousand strong. Although Grohl had thought that it would be a war of attrition, he quickly ordered their interception. Staying inside the walls, and slowly bleeding the enemy to death was what the cautious faction had lobbied for, but Grohl had shouted them down.
金金金Whoever looked at it, defending a castle against mere rebels would seem pathetic. Furthermore, the castle town’s defences were lackluster and so casualties and destruction were guaranteed. Already, Grohl planned to sally forth, take the field, and exterminate them. Neither his judgement, nor his plan was a fallacious. However, he viewed his opponents as scum, and if he couldn’t quickly achieve victory, he would become impatient, arrogantly believing that he could overwhelm them with numbers and higher quality equipment. Those three follies clouded his vision and threatened to dull his reasoning. As to whether or not they would be fatal was not yet known.
“This is my first time participating in such a large scale military operation. My chest is unexpectedly pounding.”
“Isn’t that the common cold? Hey, do you have a fever?”
“Even though you aren’t wearing your glasses, your words are still poor. Or are you saying that this is your place?”
“No. I heard this from a friend before, but humans are complicated so they can’t be judged by their faces.”
“If there are many good people who have killed great numbers, there must also be many evil people who have saved great numbers. Humans are like the sun, you see, with all kinds of forms. If you don’t observe it multilaterally, you’ll never see its true figure.”
金金金Noel was speaking like a philosopher. It gave off a profound feeling, no, it was something else. Cynthia was shaking her head.
“Sorry, but I don’t understand the meaning at all.”
“It means that with or without glasses, I am the same me. Hey, I just said something good just now, right?”
“I was a fool for seriously listening to your story. Look, just obediently play your trumpet. As calmly as you can.”
金金金Cynthia overbearingly stuffed the trumpet on to Noel’s mouth. Noel, rather than resisting, accepted it, and blew out a meaningless toot.
“This is the military’s might, when we array for battle we will certainly win. We will crush them quickly, and return peace to Coimbra.”
金金金The assembled troops, at the commander’s orders, turned together and began to exit the castle. Coimbra’s military flag, and the scale insignia proudly flew. Cynthia’s troop’s turn was still to come. In that way they were to march from the castle, out of the castle town, and onto the highway where they planned to intercept the rebel army. Grohl ordered them into the crane’s wings formation to maximise the advantage of their superior numbers. The left and right wings would encircle the enemy, and exterminate them. As the rebel’s numbers were inferior they should have no way of countering it. Cynthia was sure of victory, and nodded strongly.
“Amazing, your expression looks confident of victory. See, it’s loosening. You’re seeming terribly negligent.”
金金金Poking Cynthia’s cheek with her finger, her hand was brushed away, and Cynthia hurriedly objected.
“T-there is nothing of that sort here. I am simply bracing myself right now! You are the one who should worry about negligence!”
“Oh really. So what you’re showing me is actually nervousness then. Look, your body is totally trembling.”
“D-don’t say stupid things!”
金金金Cynthia strongly bit her tongue. Her face distorted as she desperately endured the pain. Noel asked if she was truly okay with a wry smile. Patrolling the rear, with stiff faces, Mirut and the others stood straight in a similar manner to Cynthia’s veterans. There was no helping that they were like that before their first battle. Noel was unexpectedly looking up to the sky. The sun’s form was obscured by a cloud. It gave off a poor impression and Noel was slightly disappointed.
“Well, as long as we’re alive, we can do something. If I do that, I wonder how many times I’ll have to fight to finally win,” Noel murmured to herself.
金金金The turning point was the game of black and white that they would play together. They had no way of knowing if they would lose several times in the fighting, but it would be fine as long as they turned the tables in the end. She figured that that was what Geb meant when he had told her to always win if she wanted to find happiness. However difficult the process, getting the last laugh was a good thing. In summary, defeat for Noel was either dying in the middle of a dream, or surrendering; only those two. Submission to the enemy was no good, and so she may have had to die.
“As I said, puff up your chest more, maybe fill in some of the space there. Cynthia, Commander of One Hundred.”
“O-of course. But, the part that protects the lives of the soldiers needs to have some breathing room!”
“I see. Then there’s no helping it. I give up.”
金金金Noel thought of teasing her more, but decided to stop. If she kept it up too long she felt that she would be punched. Feeling somewhat tired, she opened her mouth wide and let out a breath.
“Even though it is just before a battle, you’re yawning. Are you an idiot, or a big-shot, I can’t tell.”
“What would happen if I was a big-shot?”
“Let’s see, how about, as an elegant general you would lead me into combat. How about you are labelled as the General of 100 Victories?”
金金金Cynthia had a wry smile while making fun of her, and Noel nodded obediently.
“Then I should go one step further and become the commander-in-chief. That is slightly higher than a regular general, and would make me greater, right?”
“C-commander-in-Chief Noel. I can only think of that as a poor joke, so don’t say it twice. You’d get too excited.”
“You were the one who said it first, Cynthia. Ah, wasn’t it sir Cynthia?”
金金金After speaking to her without proper honorifics, she rebuked Cynthia with her gaze, but she soon stopped as she felt that she would be hit.
“With that, it is all good. Aside from me, the other officers will care. You’d be punished by beating.”
金金金While she was saying that, it came time for Cynthia’s troop to depart. Taking the reigns from a soldier who had brought a horse, Cynthia mounted it. It seemed that commanders of one hundred were permitted to be on horseback. With a lance in her hand, her whole body was covered in stately armour. With her visor down it became impossible to tell that she was a woman.
“Cynthia company is departing! Everyone follow me!”
金金金In the vanguard, Cynthia carefully spurred her horse onward. Matching her, Noel and the rest followed, the sound of the trumpet and their drums ringing out. The fruits of their labours had ripened, and this time there were no complaints about their performance. The soldiers with spears followed behind Cynthia and marched out. Their steps fell in sync so as not to disturb the formation.
金金金Noel held her bident and commenced the march, leading Mirut and the others. On top of their uniforms, they wore iron breastplates, and helmets. The few plates they had been supplied with were spaced out such that the thought of it obstructing movement never occurred to them. None of it would get in the way during an emergency.
金金金This is my first campaign. I’ll have to properly find out if what I learned there will be of any help.
金金金After remembering the faces of her precious friends, Noel recalled the faces of her teachers. Her beautiful memories became black. Noel regretted sincerely not skewering his head. Those guys were unmistakably the enemy.
“Well then, let’s give it our all. This is our first battle.”
金金金Noel smiled, and the young ones from the village raised their arms as they raised their spirits. Mirut who did nothing aside from refusing to follow along, could only shake his head.