Hifumi occupied the cities and villages by the Orsongrande-Arosel border one by one.
After killing many of Vichy’s soldiers and adventurers, Hifumi’s side also had some casualties, but the difference in losses were overwhelming. Their raids were performed in such a way that most of the populace didn’t notice anything. But even if they did, the only thing that changed was the name of the governor.
Except putting the central government’s spies and liaisons on house arrest, Hifumi didn’t really take any actions towards them. In time, they were to divulge the state of affairs within the their area of control.
In each of the cities, the opposing parties were generally killed, and passage through the city gates was restricted. The soldiers left behind were the bare minimum for upholding those restrictions, so in the villages there could be as few as three of them.
Hifumi pointed his finger at the map they took from the representative of Arosel’s mansion.
Looking at the size conquered territory, the military gains were unprecedented in the history of Orsongrande. Furthermore, occupying these cities and villages in a relatively unscathed condition, the tax revenue would barely need to be reduced at all.
“Well then, I guess I’ll go have a ‘talk’ with them in Rhone.”
Imeraria probably doesn’t have the notion to invade other countries herself. If that’s the case and Vichy wants to enter negotiations with us, offering Orsongrande an apology, it should all conclude there, but…
Would he listen to anyone’s opinion, and change the way he’s thinking?
Pajou looked at the troops participating in the campaign.
They were all showing signs of fatigue. Having no experience with these methods until now, they were performing silent invasions, and engaging in one-sided slaughter. Sure, they had signs of physical exhaustion, but what had really exhausted them was the repeated killing of enemies, including many who couldn’t even resist.
They were primarily concentrating on performing night raids and surprise attacks. Although they were operations in which the masses weren’t hurt, in the end their purpose was still having others killed.
If they didn’t stop soon, perhaps Orsongrande would crumble from within.
Perhaps if Hifumi was thinking about stopping…
“Sorry, do you have some time?”
Closing in on Rhone, Hifumi frowned.
“What’s all this about…?”
Steadily closing in on the city, a bizarre mud wall covering the entrance came into view.
A stench of blood and decay burst forth the moment the entrance was cleared.
Looking around within the city, decomposed bodies were scattered all over the place, no living things to be found. Not even cats or dogs. Whether it be the stores, the inns, or even the regular houses, blood and dead bodies could be found everywhere.
“A disease? …No, that doesn’t seem to be the case.”
He didn’t understand the circumstances of the deaths of the decomposed bodies, but there were numerous cases of their throats having being clamped down upon, and clawing their own chests.
Hifumi abruptly withdrew his katana, as the stomach of one of the decomposed bodied opened. Some gas emerged, and the content gushed out with a splashing sound.
As Hifumi guessed that for some reason, they all started quickly decomposing at around the same time, he caught a quick glance of something through one of the bodies’ split clothes.
Wouldn’t that indicate that this incident was orchestrated on the orders of Horant?
Not being able to conclude anything more than that, Hifumi let out a sigh and returned to the where the campaign’s forces were stationed.
“In that short amount of time, he killed this many?”, someone muttered.
“What is actually going on here?”
“No idea. The decayed guys were wearing that body strengthening magic tool we encountered before. Perhaps they were made to wear them by someone. The other ones had no facial expressions, so it appears to be the same kind of magic tool as the soldiers in Arosel were using. The low levels of resistance would indicate that this should be a strengthened version.”
He turned to Pajou who was situated a small bit away.
“No. I didn’t think they were having a uniform magic tool they were equipped with…”
“Is there something wrong?”
Hifumi turned around, and walked towards one of the city’s wells. Origa and the rest followed him to take a peek into the well and sniffed to check the smell. It was an acidic smell that slightly stung the eyes.
“…… Are there any magic tools that display an effect when you’re drinking, for example?”
“For example, let’s assume we have a magic tool creating a substance that spreads throughout the body. If that substance could dissolve in water, what would happen when you drink water?”
“That’s why they needed to experiment with it, right?”
Destroying a while city just for that purpose. That kind of deranged thinking made them shiver in a different way than when they were facing Hifumi.
Possibly because of Beirevra, Hifumi thought, but he had no positive proof that was actually the case.
If, after the messenger delivered the report, everyone hearing became spineless, it wouldn’t be a laughing matter, Hifumi sighed.
The entrance on Vichy’s side of the city was changed slightly. Only on the inside of the gate was a guard room prepared. The guards who had previous experience in guarding a border were put in charge of the central positions.
“It’s about time. Alyssa, since we’ve now established the new national border, have the third unit convey to the troops in the occupied cities and villages that they can now release the restrictions on entering and exiting the cities.”
“Pajou, you make the preparations to receive the troops from Orsongrande that are to be stationed here. There are a lot of houses remaining, so seizing a few inns to use as well should be enough. No one should complain about that, right?”
“The second unit is to continue the investigations within the city. If there are any survivors, take them into custody.”
“What about the first unit?”
Having issued all the orders, Hifumi felt worn out and told the others he’d lie down for a while, after which he headed towards a suitable inn.
Kasha muttered, stretching her back.
Only after dealing with Beirevra would they have taken their own revenge, Origa mentioned. It was something the two of them had talked about many times already.
Kasha put her index finger to her cheek and said in a small voice, not meeting Origa’s gaze.
For every word Kasha said, Origa’s eyes turned more severe.
Not being able to withstand the mood turning heavier, Alyssa ran away.
“Kasha, you may have some valid points in what you say, but I didn’t think you were this dishonorable.”
“If that’s the case, you can return to the capital by yourself. I’ll still be following Hifumi.”
After that, Origa turned around and walked away at a quick pace.
“I’m sorry. I made you do something unpleasant.”
“Yeah, I understand you as well.”
She might not be able to return to her own country, or perhaps even die. But even then, Pajou was determined to weaken Hifumi’s faction. He had become a hero, and brought both triumph and benefits to Orsongrande. But what they’ve gotten so far was enough. They didn’t need more.
Walking back towards the assigned lodgings, Pajou had now decided on something she wouldn’t report to the princess.