Along the road illuminated by the morning sun runs a handcar at neck-breaking speed.
Since leaving Arosel they have gone non-stop towards Folkalore, and though are much exhausted they do not stop; their duty to their lord motivates them to return even a second sooner.
Even so, one of them fainted from the impact, while the other hurried out from the straw.
He said, spitting out straw from his mouth. Soldiers from the gate run up to him,
「Ah, I am a messenger from the scout division. I can no longer run, so pass my words to Lord Hifumi… Vichy troops have been spotted approaching Rhone. A host of about 13,000 men. 500 of them may be magic casters.」
「Alright, I’m heading off to the castle!」
The passed out soldier was awoken with a bucket of water, and the soldiers who were otherwise unoccupied went around telling the others the news.
This day began with the lightest mood the soldiers have felt since Vichy began preparing their forces,
Origa knocked on the door to the lord’s office, and waited to be permitted to enter.
「You have called for me, how can I be of service?」
「So it’s finally time?」
Origa gently shook her head.
「Is that so…」
「What has been on your mind, my lord?」
He didn’t want to think about it, so he used to write “Tohno” on the documents. He wasn’t particularly attached to the name, but couldn’t think of anything else.
「Alright. Just as we planned, have the garrison forces return. Have the prototypes prepared as well」
Origa saw is inappropriate to allow Hifumi’s image to deteriorate because of a loss, and thus rejected this kind of tactic, but because Hifumi himself did not care much for victory, she didn’t object too strongly.
｢I hear that Vichy has invaded!｣
｢Calm down. You have a task you must carry out. There’s no use shouting around in our Lord’s room. Prepare for Hifumi-sama’s departure.｣
Kasha’s face was dyed in worry, while Origa carried a cool expression.
｢Hifumi-san, surely you can’t possibly let Origa out onto the front lines?!｣
｢Not really. She should do as she will. She is not my slave, you see｣
Seeing that no further words could convince either of them, Kasha’s shoulders dropped and,
She turned around and left.
｢She is a part of the larger play. She’s necessary to set the stage as I will it｣
｢Kasha is just a fool, after all…｣
A whisper that no one could have heard.
By the rail and shuttle one could reach Arosel from Folkare by the following day, and thus in a day the forces were assembled there. This was a speed never before seen in this world.
Though it was cloudy, it was not cold.
By their predictions, the vanguard of the Vichy forces was set to come into view by tomorrow.
Alyssa stated, having arrived with two soldiers.
｢’Tis finally time… Hifumi-san truly does not fear war?｣
｢You never think that you will be the one to be killed?｣
｢Of course I do. When you kill, it’s a privilege to not be killed｣
｢Alright, let’s go｣
The cart accelerated and soon it was out of sight.
Remembering her own close brush with death, Alyssa tried imaging a mortally wounded Hifumi, but could conjure no such image in her mind.
Rhone, on the border, had no garrison and no traps to welcome the invaders.
As Orsongrande forces never used the houses in Rhone, a thick layer of dust was present in every building, but it was still better than sleeping on grass and stones.
And observing these boisterous soldiers who were partaking in a meal, was none other than Hifumi.
The way they moved showed an attempt at discipline but a complete lack of thereof as well, a truly shabby scene.
He was demanding that they immediately attack Orsongrande, while the others were demanding a break, leading to discontent and disagreement between them.
(They are probably planning on rearranging the troops after they all have gathered in the city)
Gliding into the shadows created by buildings, Hifumi slept there until it was dark.
Upon hearing that Vichy troops were advancing, an individual took the fastest horse to Orsongrande Castle.
When Pajo had left, Imeraria called in the Prime Minister. He, too, knew of her intentions.
｢I have made up my mind. Pajo, too, is satisfied… Yes, it is my fault that Hifumi-sama was brought into this world and subjected to unpleasant happenings｣
｢That, however, does not give him a right to trample on this world. I can’t say I am not motivated by a personal grudge, though… Had he fought the beast-men there may have been use of him, but fighting fellow humans is unforgivable｣
｢’Tis an underhanded trick, but should Hifumi-sama overcome the predicament before him, should he be such an aberrant of a man, then no one under the heavens could stop him. But I have been told Vichy forces number more than ten thousand. Victory with a handful of men is impossible.｣
｢I am powerless. I can’t even strike down my father’s foe without resorting to cheap tricks. Should I fail I too will die. When that happens, please take care of my brother｣
The Prime Minister, without saying anything, bowed and left.
Night had fallen on the city of Rhone shrouding it in darkness and silence.
(I guess it’s time)
His targeted the buildings he demarcated as belonging to commanders.
There were five people inside the house. One in each room, sleeping.
Then to the next, and the next, murdering as he went.
Hifumi then moved to the next housing, dispatching of the men he remembered seeing that day and any who were in the house.
(Wasn’t there a movie with a similar plot?)
Picking methods that would dispose of his enemies quickly, Hifumi felt like he was being a kind person to them.
Within two hours he had planned to dispose of every commander. Not a single had learned of Hifumi’s presence, nor put up any resistance, causing Hifumi to quickly grow bored. He desperately hoped that some would counterattack, but all disappointed.
At last he entered the building where the mustache-commander was.
After observing his sleeping face, Hifumi took out not his katana, but a quill and wrote.
Buer, the man feared as the strictest general, awoke with the phrase『Noisy Bastard』written on his forehead. Buer was known as the strongest, most violent general, and his anger was likewise famous.
Yet even that anger was incomparable to his rage when he heard that every other commander was killed.
His poor chamberlain could only remain silent through his anger.
Hifumi was kind enough upon leaving Rhone to show himself to a patrolling soldier and then knock him out. This way he meant to convey that the slaughter was carried out by someone from the outside. Buer, of course, figured that Orsongrande must have done it.
A few soldiers were so afraid of the sudden demise of their commanders that they fled.
｢Orsongrande bastards! I will reach your gates and end you! Just come before me!｣
The soldiers drowning in his constant litany of anger and hatred, were marching towards Folkalore even more exhausted than they were yesterday.