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“The Dark Lady is attacking!!”

News from Quanneuf, the neighboring country, arrived through the magitech telecommunication system. The governor of Quanthuit jumped to his feet, eyes wide, his glass of rum — a luxury, now that the world’s commerce was grinding to a halt — clattering on the floor.

“Impossible… why?! What grudge does she have for this region?!”

Just the other day, the five countries that were their friends and neighbors had collapsed, one after another. It hadn’t been even a week.

It had been a wake-up call for the whole world. Large countries worldwide had held a meeting, and they had declared the rabbit beastman behind it all to be the Dark Lady.

The last time an official Dark Lord Declaration happened was centuries ago, when half of today’s countries hadn’t even existed. At the time, the demihuman races, including the Elves and the Dwarves, had come together to defeat what had been considered a Calamitous threat, the Vile Dragon. But in most of the human countries, the story went that the credit belonged solely to the humans.

Back then, there had been two Heroes. They had left the Central Continent to start their own countries in the Western Continent and the Eastern Continent, bringing the whole world into the grasp of humans.

And today, there were three Heroes.

The vast majority of humans believed they would win against any Dark Lord or Lady, as long as they had Heroes. They might be fearful, but they held not a hint of pessimism.

The human countries had begun preparations for war against the Dark Lady. Among the countries of the small continental group Shedy attacked, only Quanneuf and Quanthuit had been spared, by virtue of holing up inside their borders. They were aggressively hiring adventurers to add to their soldiers and militia as part of their defensive measures.

But while large countries might have the ability to keep up their guard for long periods of time, the small countries certainly did not. Forming the militia meant lost production, and hiring high-rank adventurers costed several times the pay of a normal soldier.

So the only thing the small countries could do was to rely on the Dark Lady Prediction report that the Temples had sent to every single country’s ministry of foreign affairs. According to the report, the next Dark Lady attack was most likely to happen in either the eastern region of the Central Continent, or the western region of the Northern Continent.

The report calculated a 40% probability even for those most likely regions. This small group of continents, a region just recently attacked, only had less than a 10% chance of another assault, and so the governor couldn’t afford for the country to stay in their shell forever. The militia had to be disbanded, and citizens returned to their usual lives.

But now, the Dark Lady was attacking the neighboring country of Quanneuf. This wasn’t right. They were supposed to be a low-probability region.

“Your Majesty, please give the order! We must save Quanneuf!” An army general shouted, impatient to set off.

The governor blanched. “W-wait, no, we don’t have enough soldiers! Scout out the situation first!”

“Your Majesty…”

The nobility of the two surviving countries of the region had relatives living in both, so there was no lack of sympathy for the general. But even if the army set off right away, just the preparations alone would take up two days, plus another two at the very least if they took the magitech train. It was very unlikely Quanneuf could hold on by then.

The officers of both countries were keeping in contact by the magitech telecommunication system, and what they understood about the situation could be summarized as follows: Quanneuf had changed their monster-repelling barrier into the more manintensive magic-repelling barrier, as the target of their caution was a beastman. And so, the Dark Lady hadn’t been able to infiltrate the capital as easily as she used to do.

So she covered the whole capital in arctic mist instead.

Like Quanthuit, Quanneuf had disbanded their militia. They lacked the soldiers for a counteroffensive. The citizens had their hands full just trying to survive the blizzard, and even their plumbing had frozen over. They needed immediate support.

“Would we be in time…?”

“In time or not, what about the humanitarian aid…”

“But what if even our country falls…”

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