“Ekwuse me fo disturpin.” (Sabnak)
“… What happened, with that face?” (Imeraria)
A soldier announced the arrival of Sabnak who entered from outside, but Imeraria understood the reason for the soldier looking strangely baffled after seeing Sabnak who came in. Both his cheeks are swelling in bright red.
If they were in the middle of receiving an attack, she might have misunderstood this as sign that they permitted an enemy invasion.
“Nyo, thiw is…” (Sabnak)
“He was scolded by Origa.” (Hifumi)
“The cause of his misfortune lies with his own mouth.” (Alyssa)
Alyssa and Hifumi showed their faces from behind Sabnak who faltered to talk about it.
“Was she able to get here?”
Origa is together with the troops so that she can take a rest together with the soldiers.
“You were quite fast.” (Imeraria)
Urging them to a simple table set which was prepared inside the tent, Imeraria orders the maid to brew some black tea.
“To begin with we were heading to the capital with the intention of bringing you a souvenir, Imeraria. But, we heard the story about soldiers of Fokalore having been done in from Biron’s messenger.” (Hifumi)
“It’s alright to go see the souvenir later since it arrived in the capital”, Hifumi smiles, but there’s something that worries Imeraria more than what the souvenir is about.
“… Do you intend to take revenge against Horant?” (Imeraria)
Without wiping away the sweat which is streaming down her cheeks, Imeraria watches Hifumi making sure to look up at him with upturned eyes.
Alyssa waits silently for Hifumi who accepts her gaze with a smile as Imeraria is seriously waiting for a reply.
“Ah, ouwch, t-therz’s a wuund in my mouwh… ah.” (Sabnak)
Tasting the black tea which was poured in, Sabnak, who muttered that with teary eyes, realized that the looks of everyone are focussed on him.
“Haa… Sabnak-san, since you have to communicate later on, please go now to receive medical treatment.” (Imeraria)
“G-Gwot eet…” (Sabnak)
Seeing off Sabnak who leaves in low spirits, Hifumi grins broadly.
“As usual he is an amusing guy. That man will probably be manipulated by women for the rest of his life.” (Hifumi)
“Which reminds me, even his elder sister who was married to Earl Biron… no, for now such talk is sufficient. Hifumi-sama, after I go to check the situation for a bit now, I plan to advance negotiations with Nelgal-dono once we have recovered the occupied ground up to the national border.” (Imeraria)
“Don’t become a hindrance, is what you want to say?” (Hifumi)
Having a daunting gaze turned at her, Imeraria just doesn’t avert her gaze although she ended up unintentionally making a sound with her throat.
“… It’s as you say. This place is a battlefield under my command.” (Imeraria)
“Fufu… ahahaha!” (Hifumi)
Hifumi, who burst into laughter unable to stand it any longer, tapped the head of Alyssa who is sitting next to him.
“Alyssa, Her Majesty the Queen has made a statement like this. But, what will you do?” (Alyssa)
Although she looks like she is troubled by that while folding her arms, the low height of Alyssa and the pieces of baked sweets clinging to her mouth cause the feeling of tension to be zero.
“What’s this about?” (Imeraria)
“Ah, I entrusted this time’s case to Alyssa. I’m acting as, let’s see, guardian. I will simply watch from behind. As planned, that is.” (Hifumi)
“I decided!” (Alyssa)
At the moment Imeraria started to say something, Alyssa raised her voice.
“Princess-sama. Let’s compete.” (Alyssa)
“C-Compete? And, I’m not a princess-sama…” (Imeraria)
“For starters it will be about who will be able to retake the border first! So, how about it?” (Alyssa)
Due to Alyssa selfishly advancing the conversation, Imeraria asked for help from Hifumi with her eyes, but he grinned broadly.
“I told you that I won’t get involved, right? Discuss it among each other.” (Hifumi)
“Gu… Alyssa-san! Listen to my part of the story!” (Imeraria)
With Alyssa tilting her head to the side, Imeraria applies pressure into her gaze to her best ability.
“There’s no way that we will be able to have something like a competition.” (Imeraria)
“Eh? Then we will just do it with the two of us.” (Alyssa)
“I can’t allow that.” (Imeraria)
Although Imeraria declared it without hesitation, Alyssa looks like she’s unable to comprehend.
“…? Since we will just do it with the two of us, we won’t receive any particular help or such?” (Alyssa)
“Hifumi-sama, please ((do something about this)) one way or the other.” (Imeraria)
As Alyssa didn’t understand coercion or dignity, Imeraria requested help from Hifumi after becoming more and more teary eyed.
“I don’t care.” (Hifumi)
“I will depart tomorrow morning before the sun rises. If it’s now, I might be able to still save Ma Calme’s unit. Princess-sama, as that’s my revenge, don’t stop me.” (Alyssa)
“Revenge… Hifumi-sama, you are…” (Imeraria)
Hifumi proudly snorted at Imeraria who is shocked.
“She has grown up properly, right?” (Hifumi)
“How to call it…?” (Imeraria)
Imeraria, who curbed her brows, ponders about the best move even while groaning.
It's probably difficult to stop Fokalore’s feudal army led by Alyssa. Even while he says that he won’t get involved, it’s clear that the one essentially pushing her is Hifumi. It doesn’t look like I will be able to prevent it physically or logically.
Then, what shall I do about it?
There’s also the option of advancing the ceasefire negotiations in the style of getting on with Alyssa raising some military gains after leaving.
However, Imeraria looked at Hifumi’s face with half-open eyes.
“… Got it. Then, Alyssa, I will join the retake of the border by leading my soldiers tomorrow early in the morning.” (Imeraria)
“Huh? Princess-sama as well?” (Alyssa)
“It’s queen-sama!” (Imeraria)
While being embarrassed by the matter of having raised her voice against her better judgement, Imeraria clears her throat with a “ahem” and stands up.
Imeraria took a hard and long look at Alyssa’s face while making sure to not put Hifumi, who is rolling about in laughter after seeing that, in her field of vision as much as possible.
It’s a face that’s more childish and naive than mine. Until now she has acted together with Hifumi. I can’t even imagine just how many people she murdered, but it’s likely not one or two, Imeraria guesses.
“Let’s not have a competition but a cooperation. That way even the rescue might go smoothly.” (Imeraria)
“That’s true. Thank you.” (Alyssa)
Why is this person able to smile in such situation? Imeraria wanted to ask that, but expecting that Hifumi’s name will appear there without fail, she decided to drop the matter.
“Then, let’s talk about the concrete method. Someone, please call Earl Biron and Sabnak-san.” (Imeraria)
Thus the meeting, where Imeraria and Alyssa played a central part, regarding “the method to retake the border without relying on Hifumi” continued until very late.
“In other words, with the power of just the demons it might be very difficult to defeat that Hifumi-san, is what I wanted to say. You demons are quite strong at magic. Even your physical strength is excelling to the level of beastmen.”
“However”, the shinigami continues while smiling.
“Your numbers are low. And you aren’t acquainted with the world. The world has changed since you have been locked up. Even those, who have returned from outside, didn’t possess anything but limited information. So, you want to wage war by making all of the many races into your enemies?”
If you consider how he suddenly appeared in front of Vepar, who was absorbed in thoughts by herself in the deserted audience hall, the shinigami continued to talk endlessly after giving a hurried greeting. Vepar, who listened to his talk while sitting on the throne, had her eyes closed.
Without minding the state of Vepar, words continue to overflow from within the shinigami‘s mouth.
“Therefore, you can’t just crush the wasteland’s powers but you have to absorb them. If it turns into a large power, Hifumi-san won’t be able to ignore it either. He will be unable to simply crush the demons and beastmen. However, you should absorb the beastmen and elves in the shape of ruling them. If you ended up associating with them on equal terms, you wouldn’t be able to create strategies like sacrificing some of your power. Since that Hifumi-san will be your opponent, it will likely be necessary to make some of the races into sacrificial pawns.”
In the explanation up to this point, the shinigami has avoided talking about being hostile towards Reni of Swordland. He thought it to be fine for both sides to clash with each other in a state of being equally prepared as it will become a muddy battle then.
“… You gave me a long explanation, but in the end you are telling us to conquer the wastelands, aren’t you?” (Vepar)
Listening to Vepar’s remark which is mixed with sighs, the shinigami happily nods with an “Uh huh.”
“It’s a big help for the talking to be quick.”
“I know about the threat of the man called Hifumi. I remember him well after seeing him in front of myself. However, is it even necessary for us to stand in front of him going as far as especially resolving ourselves for sacrifices? Obtaining the wastelands is a pre-scripted route. If we don’t do that, it will likely be impossible to dispel the demons’ depression. The investigations and preparations for that have already begun.” (Vepar)
“Therefore”, Vepar fixes her crossed legs and glares at the shinigami.
“I can’t hear anything from you but telling us to merely plunge into danger. While it may be true that we will obtain the wastelands, I don't feel any necessity to confront the humans. I would think ((it to be different)) if the humans were a lot weaker and less. However, the other side has an outrageous ace. And even without that, our side has far too few numbers against their superiority in numbers, right?” (Vepar)
“The humans are fighting amongst fellow countries?”
“It’s also possible that they will set up a collaboration at the time when a common enemy appears. Rather, they will jump the queue at that time to just fight with us. The words of opposing another race as “mankind” will probably raise their morale quite a bit.” (Vepar)
There’s the threat of numbers and moreover there’s little information as us demons were locked in for a long time, Vepar understood that very well.
“The one-eared rabbit child I met some time ago understands the world far better than us. She knows of elves and humans even while being a beastman. She probably understood more or less about the demons in the recent events as well. In contrast to that, many of the demons, including me, don’t know about other races. There are legends based on the hate towards the elves. Beastmen are seen as low ranked ((existences)). As for humans, even I don’t have seen more than one.” (Vepar)
“If I’m honest, I’m scared”, Vepar says.
“Then you don’t have any intention to take an aggressive stance towards humans, you say?”
Vepar broadly grinned at the shinigami who shook his head in an exaggerated manner while looking really disappointed.
“No, once all the conditions are met, I will do as you say.” (Vepar)
“Conditions… you say?”
“If you call yourself my god, you have according power for that, right?” (Vepar)
The shinigami opened one of his eyes widely due to Vepar’s question.
“Well, I’m pretty much well versed in dark magic. I’m a god who holds power related to death.”
“Strictly speaking, I’m not a god of this world”, he spills so that it can’t be heard.
“There are two conditions. Intelligence about the powers who are hostile towards us. And…” (Vepar)
Vepar’s slender index finger pointed at the shinigami.
“Lend your power to me. If you ask for something, you have to hand over something. That’s called a deal.” (Vepar)
The shinigami was taken aback for an instant. His mouth flapped open and closed, but once he arranged his hair and cleared his throat, he bowed courteously.
“Let me offer it to you with pleasure.”
Without waiting for sunrise, the two armies approach the border.
Fokalore’s feudal army led by Alyssa left a reserve unit of 100 soldiers behind. Orsongrande’s royal army led by Imeraria and Sabnak did the same.
“There’s no strategy-like strategy. They will do a concentrated attack with spear throwers from long distance. After that they will retake the border by charging… is it? I’m describing it like that, but it’s nothing sophisticated or anything like that.” (Origa)
“Well, even if they decide upon finer details with mixed military forces, they won’t be able to control those, right? Around this much is suitable and just right.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi and Origa follow on their respective horses behind the two advancing armies. Hifumi is completely a curious onlooker. Origa follows because Hifumi is going.
“… It’s soon, isn’t it?” (Origa)
The armies’ advance slowed down and the the border became visible in the distance.
The leading group has already begun to set up the spear throwers. As expected of Fokalore’s feudal army, they are quite dexterous.
“Well, then let’s have them show us this country's battle.” (Hifumi)
“Ah, I put black tea into a canteen. I brought along Caim-san’s baked sweets as well.” (Origa)
Receiving the black tea which was still steaming after it was poured into a wooden cup, Hifumi tossed the baked sweets into his mouth. Once he brushes away the crumbles, which fell into the horse’s mane, with his hand, the horse shakes its head seeming to be ticklish.
“Oh, it started.” (Hifumi)
The soldiers, which spread out at the front-line at the moment he had black tea in his mouth, began the firing after matching it with the voices of Imeraria and Alyssa.
And, at the same time, Alyssa, leading around 10 cavalry units, approaches the flank of the border while taking a large detour.
Horant’s soldiers, which became restless due to the sudden attack, aren’t able to cope with it at all. They were mowed down nicely by Alyssa’s group which swooped down on the side where the spear rain calmed down.
It looked like Imeraria attempted to do a similar attack as well, but being frantically stopped by Sabnak as expected, Hifumi saw her observing from the rear.
“It has gone smoothly up to this point. Well, it will be boring if it finishes with Horant being crushed like that, but… hmm?” (Hifumi)
The mouth of Hifumi, who discovered something in the far distance, curves like a crescent moon.
While watching Hifumi’s happy face, Origa secretly drank her own black tea in the cup returned by him.
“… They are surprisingly brittle. Once more… Ah, that’s…”
While breaking through without further ado after heading towards the enemy line, Alyssa, who lowered her body and got rid of five soldiers of Horant by tearing the enemy’s neck skilfully with her wakizashi, faced about towards the enemy line, which has taken some distance, and confirmed that there were no casualties among her allies.
By the way, since the other soldiers are unable to act this skilfully, they are breaking through the enemy lines while wielding long swords.
Discovering that something was lowered from the rooftop of the border fortress while being suspended, Alyssa affirmed that the enemy was still in chaos and gazed steadily at the rooftop.
“Such a…” (Alyssa)
What was shown to be hanging completely like some flag by Horant’s side are the corpses of ten people which had a rope around their necks.
Without a single one of them being in a flawless state, they lacked some of their limbs and some among them had their heads smashed in. However, Alyssa didn’t care about such a thing at all.
“Holy shit, what have they done!”
Even the soldiers of Fokalore, who are around the speechless Alyssa, are revealing their anger by baring their teeth while looking up to the corpses.
It was the moment when the confused Alyssa returned her sight to the enemy line.
What was there once Alyssa, who wondered whether some cloud appeared after manifesting alongside an earth tremor, raised her eyes was a giant which might be five meters in height.
Together with the soldiers around her, Alyssa was knocked off the horse visibly being flicked off by the swing of the giant’s arm.
Alyssa, who rolls over while raising a cloud of dust, stood up and quickly fixed her stance.
However, with her body not listening to her, she falls on her backside.
Her body is alright in the simple armour, but her right foot was bent to an extent that makes it easy to grasp that it’s completely broken just by looking.
The soldiers in the surroundings raised groans. Five soldiers, who were fine, got up and stood in front of the giant to protect Alyssa.
“N-No… no! Everyone, run away!” (Alyssa)
Raising a roaring sound that seems to drown out Alyssa’s voice, the giant grabbed the very long spear, which he carried on his back, with his hand.