Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
「Arc’s Master Plan」Part 2
However, the argument didn’t end there because Nina’s gentle face turned to one of anger.
“Fool! The capital is besieged by a hundred thousand undead!! I will not allow Princess Lille to return to such a place!!”
Her voice trembled with barely restrained anger, but the content of what she said reached those around us.
Ariane, Chiome, and I groaned as the number of enemies increased with her shout.
“Hmm, so the undead attacking the capital exist in such a number……”
I knew that an army of undead had besieged the city, but the sheer size of the enemy forces was beyond expectation.
Having not heard any concrete numbers so far, Earl Dimo and his servants became suspicious when they head that.
“I-Is that true? Are there really a hundred thousand undead……?”
Earl Dimo surveyed the two escort knights and the guards they led, looking for truth.
Zahar and Nina cast their eyes down to avoid his gaze.
It seems that Nina’s statement wasn’t a mere exaggeration.
“Ma-Maybe it is impossible after all……?”
Hiding behind me, Princess Lille looked at the stifled reactions for those around us and trembled.
(Just how long will their defenses hold out if they really were attacked by a hundred thousand undead?)
Lille seemed to be more sensitive than most, as she managed to pick up on Ariane’s whisper, and processed to loudly rebuke that sentiment.
“Father would not lose so easily! My elder brothers will surely have returned with reinforcements, and are helping defend the capital!!”
I found another worrisome point in Lille’s statement.
“Lille-dono, you say you have two older brothers? Both of whom were sent to gather reinforcements as well?”
She nodded her head and answered my question.
“That is so! When we join my brother’s forces, the monsters shall perish”
She raised her fist to emphasize her point.
Assuming that the two brothers managed to raise a large enough force to deal with an army of undead it would take quite a bit of time to organize it.
In this situation, it would be best to head to the capital, reduce the number of undead, and delay the city’s collapse……
If it was the capital of a major kingdom, it should be capable of accommodating a large number of people.
It would be nigh impossible to immediately topple the city, even with an army of a hundred thousand undead.
Breaking through the siege and joining the defensive forces should drag out the battle sufficiently enough to create a fighting chance.
I turned to my companions with that thought in mind.
Ariane was a dark elf who excelled in spirit magic and swordsmanship.
Chiome was one of the six great ninjas of the Blade Heart Clan and employed spirit magic as ninjutsu.
Shiden the dragon mount, built like a heavily armored truck and physically strong enough to run thousands of miles without stopping.
And the gluttonous Ponta.
Just how long could we delay the battle with just us…… honestly, I didn’t know, but I did know we wouldn’t fall immediately.
When I looked them in the eye, Ariane resigned herself, Chiome nodded her head, and I had no idea what Shiden was thinking.
Ponta seemed to be thinking about her next meal as usual.
“Then it’s decided, we’ll head directly to Nozan’s capital.”
Everyone, including Lille, looked at me in disbelief when I said that.
“Wait Wait! We need
to gather reinforcements before we arrive at the capital!”
Lille had been hiding behind me to avoid Zahar’s reach until now, but she jumped out and restated her plan once more.
However, I shook my head and stopped her.
“Lille-dono, I do not know how well guarded the capital is. However, I understand that its defenses run the risk of being overrun should you try to gather troops from the surrounding territories. It’s uncertain if your older brothers managed to obtain enough reinforcements, but if they have, it will take them time to organize them properly. In that case, we need to amass a minimal number of troops and immediately return to the capital to buy them enough time…… don’t you think so?”
Lille blinked several times as she wrapped her head around what I said and she gave me a small nod.
“……That’s true! Even if you gather reinforcements, what good would it do if the capital fa──!”
It was Zahar, one of her personal guards, who cut off Lille before she could finish that thought.
“Please wait, Princess! A small mobile unit engaging in guerrilla warfare against one hundred thousand enemies is pure insanity! What happens if you manage to break through the siege only for reinforcements never to…… no, arrive too late?!”
Lille was somewhat frightened by Zahar’s shouting, to the point of audibly gulping.
When Lille looked up at me, I looked directly at her from the depths of my helmet.
“It is up to you, Lille-dono. However, you should be well aware that the three of us are confident in our skills, and the equivalent of a hundred soldiers each.”
Hearing my words, Lille regained her composure and nodded at me as she remembered the battle with the spider chimera.
On the other hand, Lille’s other guards began to emit a dangerous aura towards us, Ariane just seemed annoyed by this while Chiome maintained her composure.
They were probability insulted by that.
But this could be a good opportunity.
The fact that we were acting as representatives of the elves allow us to gauge the human’s strength as well as discouraging them from attacking in the future.
Also, since the enemy was undead, I could probably exterminate ten thousand of them using ‘that’.
Even if it was a test run, it wasn’t the kind of skill you could carelessly activate.
However, this kind of situation was the best place to test it.
Zahar and I simultaneously urged Lille to answer, her eyes darted back and forth for a moment before she stuck out her chest and proudly declared her chose.
“I shall return to the capital! Zahar, Nina! This is my decision! Should Nozan’s capital fall, there will be nothing to deter the neighboring countries from invading our country!”
Zahar and Nina bit their lips and kneeled when they heard her determined declaration.
They openly showed their contempt as they glared at me though.
I was an outsider leading the princess to her death…… No, the Hiruku doctrine of treating elves and beastmen as abominations was also deeply ingrained in this region.
I doubt my actions could reduce the gap between the races, but that couldn’t be helped.
Besides, since I wanted to avoid using transfer magic in front of humans, I would only use it to flee with Lille in case of an emergency.
She would be needed later on and I would be hindered in various ways if her safety wasn’t guaranteed.
Especially since I’ve felt the stare of a pair of golden eyes piercing the back of my head for a while now.
Ponta seemed puzzled by the strange tension between Ariane and myself.
Lille looked at the guards stationed behind her two escorts and then set her sights upon Earl Dimo.
“Prepare a cavalry unit as fast as you can! As the Earl of this territory, allowing me to return to the Kingdom without proper protection would be rather shameful on your part, wouldn’t it!?”
Lille spoke in a dignified manner, her guards agreed with that statement as they directed silent pressure towards the earl.
Even if small, she was still royalty.
If he, as an aristocrat of the kingdom, were to send Lille off without providing enough soldiers to ensure her safety, he could be accused of having rebellious intention later on.
If the country were to fall, there would be no issue, but in the unlikely event that Nozan survived this disaster, he would unquestionably be removed from his position.
Given the situation, she made a concession by only requesting cavalry soldiers as her guards.
There couldn’t be that many people who could be prepared on such short notice.
While losing cavalry would be a major loss by itself, if the improbable did happen it would be a small price to pay to ensure one’s position…… or something like that.
“Yes, certainly. I’ll make the preparations immediately! Someone, send word to the corporal!”
Earl Dimo caved against Lille’s spirit and earnestly began to mobilize the cavalry as he ran into his mansion.
“……I can rely on you, right?”
Lille’s eyes remained on the earls shrinking figure as she asked a question nearly inaudible under the surrounding noise.
The anxiety and fear in her gray eyes caused a bit of guilt to spring up within me.
It was my words that put Lille in a position where she had to carry the burden of an entire country on her small shoulders.
That’s why it was necessary to cement our relationship here and now.
“Hmm, I know this is bad timing, but I think we should discuss the reward for this venture.”
Tension built up in Lille’s expression upon hearing my words.
I felt like a bad old man tricking a young girl but I needed to request what we needed while we still had the chance to do so.
“Th-That’s so. Name your price for escorting me on these trips.”
I was trying to answer her without letting my impatience slip out, so I suppressed my trembling hands and put on a dauntless façade.
But I had no intention of asking for money.
“First of all, the reward can only be paid upon our success. Once the capital is rescued we would like a tour of the royal treasury as the first part of our reward.”
Lille had been prepared to hear the sum of our demand, so her eyes and the eyes of the guards bulged when they heard what we actually wanted, and they were naturally confused.
“Instead of any of the Soulia family’s treasure, you want a tour of the treasury…… is that right?”
I nodded at Lille’s question and gave her a brief answer.
“Yes, things will be settled as long as we can investigate the treasury.”
I caught Chiome nodding her head in the corner of my eye after I said that.
“Understood, by my name, I shall grant you entrance into the treasury! …… so what is the other part?”
After granting us permission to enter the treasury Lille pressed for my next demand.
They had been so caught off guard by my light request, most of them didn’t seem to remember the “first” part of that statement.
The relieved expression that Nina had after hearing the contents of my first request made it obvious that she missed it.
“The second part is for Nozan Kingdom to liberate all elves and beastmen currently held in captivity, and for severe punishment to be implemented for those that try to capture them in the future.”
Not only were the two escorts surprised by my request, but so were Ariane and Chiome behind me.
Lille seemed to chew over the contents of the request for a bit but didn’t seem to fully understand it before she replied.
Eventually, Lille nodded her head before answering with a large smile.
“You will obviously take responsibility for the people released that way, right? That’s no prob──”
“Please wait! Princess Lille!!”
Just as Lille was about to agree to the demand, Nina spoke up to interrupt her.
“That demand is well beyond something anything Princess Lille can promise!”
Lille was curious about what Nina was talking about.
“Why’s that? Arc is asking for us to hand over the elves and beastmen, right? Considering the country’s situation, a decision like this should be easy to make.”
“Princess, it’s different! What he is asking our country for…… are the slaves!”
Unfortunately, the two didn’t seem to be having the same conversation.
“Slaves? Aren’t the only slaves the debt slaves, those imprisoned, and the prisoners of war?”
Nina flinched a little when Lille asked her that question.
I was able to grasp the circumstances based on their exchange.
“So there are no elven or beastmen slaves in your country… Is that how you see it?”
Nina ground her teeth but she didn’t answer my question.
She didn’t want to reveal the existence of elven and beastman slaves to Lille.
It may have been tacit agreement not to publicize the possession of elves and beastmen slaves, due to the influence of the Hiruku religion.
They already had the power to send Templars on beastmen hunts, so it’s doctrine probably declared ownership of them and demanded they be handed over.
A difference in military capabilities alone wouldn’t be able to explain their behavior.
“What’s that!? Our country has the same policy as the Rhoden Kingdom. Elves and beastmen are not allowed to be taken as slaves!”
Lille seemed somewhat flustered as she looked between Nina and me.
Officially, there was no enslaved group of elves and beastmen for my condition to be applied to.
If that official statement was true, then my demand shouldn’t cause any problem for Nozan Kingdom. All that accepting the demand meant was that the royal family would have to confiscate or simply purchase the illegal slaves and offer them to me.
I didn’t know how many slaves the Hiruku Theocracy had in its possession, but given Nina’s reaction the numbers was by no means small.
However, the continued denial of the slaves’ existence meant that their treatment would worsen now that the kingdom was in peril.
The greatest asset during a siege was the defender’s stockpile of food and water.
I didn’t know the population of the capital, but it was necessary to limit consumption when living of rationed food and it was the lower classes that usually received the short end of the stick.
And there the elven and beastmen slaves weren’t even acknowledged to exist by the general populace.
Elves were rather expensive purchases as they were kept as pets or used to breed stronger descendants, while the physically endowed beastmen were primarily used as cheap labor.
There didn’t seem to be a lot of room for negotiation this time, so I focused on the young princess and her two silent escorts.
I’ll concede on my condition for now, given the circumstances.
“Hmm, if you say your Kingdom doesn’t allow elven or beastmen slaves, then I would like that policy to be maintained in the future. However, no country is without scoundrels, no?”
The princess locked eyes with me as she seemed to understand the meaning behind my words.
Lille slowly opened her mouth and began speaking again.
“So you want the slaves of those who break the law to be confiscated and handed over to you and your people?”
She seems to have understood.
If there was indeed a policy in place the royal family had a righteous obligation to take the slaves from the corrupt nobility.
It was necessary to lend a hand here so that later on the nobles could see that the royal family was making the right decision.
Otherwise, the nobles might rebel and destroy the country, making all of our efforts meaningless.
After nodded at her question and extended my right hand.
Lille outstretched her small hand and grasped mine with all the strength she could muster.
Her two escorts behind her looked to be at their wit’s end as their eyes traveled heavenward.
In order to fulfill our agreement and prove that her decision was the right one, I had to unveil some of my true power.
A smile seemed to form inside my helmet as that thought occurred to me.
The small princess really was sensitive to such things, as a small shudder ran through her body.