Although they solidified the national border, many of the new fortresses belong to Orsongrande in name only—they are unoccupied.
And now, via these fortresses, some people are leaving Orsongrande for Vichy.
Yet their hesitation to leave their home cities and villages is predictable: the roads are underdeveloped and their only means of substance comes from the businesses they took years if not generations to develop.
「Frankly, I thought you might just decide to massacre everyone…」
「Civilians are not the enemy. Only the enemy needs to be slaughtered. But fighting tens or even hundreds of soldiers is inefficient and boring. Instead, it’s best to force those Vichy bastards to become afraid and to strengthen their ranks with more people. Then, they might finally come at us for real」
Alyssa was there among them. Only Origa and Pajo have not returned from their respective tasks. In fact, Origa has been intentionally avoiding Kasha since yesterday.
「The soldiers here have only crammed knowledge of infiltration and assassination. Even if they had any worth as soldiers before, they would simply be overwhelmed numerically」
「We’re fine as long as we don’t fight them head on. We need to dictate the environment and attack them after dividing them into smaller groups. Besides, we don’t really need to wait for our enemy to gather their forces, and even if they do, we just need to have them scatter a bit」
「But they teach soldiers never to consider defeat・・・」
「Don’t be a fool: how could you think of cutting someone down without considering being cut down?」
「A hundred may not pose a problem, but I too am human. I too need to rest, and I cannot fight continuously for many hours. If I fail to dodge even a single slash out of fatigue, I will die. No matter how strong you become, this fact never changes」
These words were imprinted in Kasha’s mind: even these monster of a human considered death.
After lunch, Hifumi observed the border with Alyssa, and called out to three men attempting to leave.
「O-oh my, Viscount-sama」
「You are spies from Vichy, aren’t you?」
Wiping the sweat from his brow the man replied, but Hifumi grabbed his hand and pointed to his palm.
The smile on the man’s face disappeared, and his looked down, serious.
While this man was already in Anarazel city when it was occupied by Orsongrande’s Expeditionary Force, he was away from the representative’s manor and thus avoided capture. So he pretended to be a merchants and sought to join others on his return to Central.
「What are you doing talking to me like I’m some homicidal maniac? I didn’t stop you to kill you. You’re headed to Central, so I wanted you to deliver something for me」
Once the spy noticed the document Hifumi took out, he immediately realized it was addressed to Vichy’s government.
Since it takes seven days to reach Central from here, he gave them plenty of time.
「Now then, Vinu, these documents are important. Don’t go and get killed by a monster or something」
Vinu bowed, reverently accepted the letter, and set off towards Vichy.
Alyssa, who up until quietly observed, asked out of curiosity.
Hifumi said after concluding that nothing will change even if she were to know now.
Hifumi could only laugh thinking that this document had Imeraria’s signature on it. Now, Vichy could simply blame Beirevra as the cause of his war, or respond in silence and face condemnation as a country that harbors criminals. One way or another, they were being pressured.
「So what will we do for now?」
「Reinforcements are bound to come from Orsongrande soon. I’ll leave the occupied territory to them and go see my land」
「Do as you wish」
The following day reinforcements arrived to the frontier and, while strengthening control over the new territory, decided to convert the town of Rhone into a military base.
That day Hifumi gathered his troops and announced their return to Fokalore.
Pajo stated, and Hifumi nodded in understanding.
「Umm… if it’s not a problem, I too would like to return to the capital・・・」
「You mean to quit the military? Have you abandoned your revenge?」
「Thanks to Hifumi-san’s and Imeraria-sama’s efforts, I have regained my freedom and even killed the soldiers responsible… so how do I say this, I think I have exacted my revenge already. Frankly, I’m just tired, I want to go back to my carefree adventuring days」
Hifumi said, and looked at Origa. He had thought that Origa wanted to the same, but she remained silent.
Alyssa said but regretted it immediately, praying to take back what she had just said.
As long as they themselves chose their path, it didn’t bother Hifumi that much, but then Origa stated,
「・・・Do as you wish」
Watching this, Pajo could not understand why Kasha recoiled at those words as she did, but she clearly saw that Origa’s loyalty to Hifumi only deepend.
She might become a second set of eyes for Hifumi, smelling out dangers that lie ahead. Perhaps she had to eliminate Origa first.
「・・・What is it?」
「I-I see. I will keep that in mind」
Pajo’s pulse quickened at his warning, as she could not figure out if he had figured her thoughts out or not.
「I wonder if the country is just trying to kill me…」(Sabnak)
Managing the reinforcements for the Expedition Force and ferrying Pajo’s reports, managing Fokalore’s affairs and negotiating for troops, all of these matters – none of which befit a knight – fell on poor Sabnak’s shoulders.
Sabnak exclaimed, laughing with tears streaming down his face, thinking of how he could finally hand over the office and affairs of late Viscount Haagenti to Hifumi. All of Haagenti’s officials and servants were either eliminated or escaped, so even living in the manor was a challenge.
「Civil servants you mean… they have already arrived. They have spent every waking hour silently digesting the information you gave them. I have briefly looked at their work and must admit that it exceeds my own education.」
「If the civil slaves are ready to take over the affairs, feel free to join Pajo and Kasha on their return to the capital. If there are any soldiers who wish to accompany you, please take them along」
The major points were summarized well: economic situation was stabilizing rapidly, faction representatives abstained from any major action, certain statesmen have been replaced, and a list of merchants entering and exiting the domain was compiled.
「Please, don’t. I’m a knight. And after returning to the capital I intend to rest for a while. It’s unnatural for a person to spend so many nights awake」
「About that… I assume you know… but you have heard about the town destroyed within Vichy, right?」
「Well, about that… you’ve been assigned to investigate that case」
「That’s what the captain of the reinforcements asked me to tell you; at least investigation of magic items fits a knight」
Feeling as if he’s been influenced by this world too much, Hifumi placed down his cup and sighed.
His dreams of a rosy vacation drifting further and further away, Sabnak was in a state of panic; Hifumi, however, merely stared at the ceiling.
The ceiling was decorated with carved lumber, with the depictions of dragons and phoenixes visible. These beings too are present in this world.
Sabnak turned his head and was met with Hifumi’s laughter.
「Huh? Ah, understood」
「By the way, how many soldiers does Orsongrande have?」
Sabnak answered as if trying to shoot down any requests for additional troops. But that is not why Hifumi asked.
「・・・How do you mean?」
Without turning to look at Sabnak, Hifumi left the room.