“O~~~hoho! I’m Honourable Associate Baron Katharina von Waigel who is called the best of the West. I challenge you magicians of the Browig household to a duel with magic!” (Katharina)
Early morning of the next day after we accepted Klaus’ plan, just right at the halfway point between the two armies facing each other, Katharina made an oath while laughing loudly.
It was the start of the strategy to cause damage to the Margrave Browig household’s wallet according to Klaus’ suggestion.
Though I call it like that, it’s not such a complicated strategy either.
The one-on-one battles between fellow young knights will soon run out of personnel to be used for those. So this time we just changed it to magic.
“Katharina looks happy.”
“It’s a chance to gain fame after all.”
She succeeded in the revival of the Waigel household, but she is likely looking at the future prospects.
By doing one-on-one fights with magic, she tried to obtain military exploits and income by herself.
A dispute of this scale is rare. Gaining military exploits in this kind of place is connected to the honour of a noble.
Even if it’s a woman, there’s no difference in that matter.
No, in fact there is, but since she herself is a magician, who are exceptions as they are few in numbers, it will count as military exploit if she defeats a magician as opponent.
This was a loophole that used the fact that the number of magicians is few.
However, it’s also wrong to forget the irrational aspect that in the case the female magician isn’t a noble, she won’t be able to become a noble and can only receive honour and money.
There are big restrictions for woman to move up in society in this country after all.
“The ransom for magicians is high, right?”
“It seems so.”
The amount of ransom changes according to the social standing of the caught party.
And there is another criterion. For a magician, and even more so for a high-ranking one, the amount of ransom rises sharply.
Klaus plan, simply put, was that we wanted Katharina to capture a magician of Browig’s camp.
“Isn’t it possible that the other side won’t come out?” (Ina)
Ina’s concern was reasonable, but the wicked part of this plan was that we actually wouldn’t even mind that happening.
“The good aspect of a dispute like this is that it will be a great disgrace if no one appears once being challenged to a duel by the other side.” (Klaus)
Although being nobles, they didn’t reply to the challenge of their opponents.
For what reason are they preparing troops regularly then? It seems that they will be ridiculed by their surroundings.
“But, you know. As there are no absolutes in such situations, isn’t it possible that a magician, who is stronger than Katharina, appears?”
“I can’t fully deny that, but for the time being it will be alright, I think.” (Klaus)
Burkhart-san said so before, but currently the East is lacking excellent magicians.
“Therefore there shouldn’t be a magician who could threaten Katharina”, Klaus explained.
“That’s right. The good part is that the employed magicians of the Margrave Browig household are at intermediate level. If they had employed an outstanding magician from outside, information about that should have reached master. If she doesn’t make quite a blunder, Katharina-jou-chan won’t loose.” (Burkhart)
Burkhart-san seems to have the same opinion as Klaus.
For an intermediate levelled magician to win against one of advanced level they have to skilfully hit the weak points or bet on a surprise attack for example, but that’s difficult if it isn’t a veteran who accumulated plenty of battle experience.
Moreover, those kind of strategies mostly don’t pass at one-on-one fights with a 『Ni~ce bam!』 like this time.
The way of casting lots of simple and powerful spells is overwhelmingly predominant.
“I shall take you up on that duel! I’m the head magician of the Margrave Browig household. Bianko Rocker, the 『Squall』.” (Bianko)
A single magician from Browig’s camp introduces himself due to Katharina’s challenge.
His age is around 40 years, I guess?
The robed middle-aged man you can find anywhere squares off against Katharina while preparing his wand.
“What’s wrong, Earl-sama?”
“That person, with such a terrible…”
Saying it like this might be rude, but compared to Burkhart-san, who is likewise an employed head magician, he felt remarkably inferior in ability.
“That place is compensating with numbers after all.”
Since there hasn’t appeared any excellent magicians in the East for a while now, the Margrave Browig household has failed at hiring a magician possessing an advanced level of mana.
Accordingly it’s no more than assigning the person, who can skilfully lead the others, or the one most senior among the many intermediate magicians as temporary head.
“Meaning he wasn’t appointed as head magician due to having overwhelming ability like Burkhart-sama?” (Elise)
“That’s how it is.” (Burkhart)
Elise asks while handing tea to Burkhart-san and he answers while taking a sip of the tea.
The confrontation of both armies, which was controlled by one-on-one fights, is basically a battle with plenty of free time.
Therefore, besides us, all of our allied nobles are drinking tea, eating the sweets on the tables and are watching the situation while sitting in the chairs at their own encampments.
Currently the time is exactly 10 o’clock in the morning. It had the feeling of what would be called a morning snack on earth.
“Can that magician of Browig’s camp win against Katharina?” (Erwin)
“No, he can’t.”
“If that’s the case, why has he come out?” (Erwin)
From Erw’s viewpoint, he apparently can’t understand well why the head magician accepted the duel if he can’t win.
However, I believe it’s only natural for him to make an appearance if seen from the viewpoint of a noble.
Putting aside the outcome of the duel, something like not answering to the request for a duel by the opponent will be more disgraceful than losing to Browig’s camp.
“Come at me, it’s a regular duel!” (Bianko)
After both of them introduced themselves, the duel between Katharina and 『Squall』 begins.
『Squall』 takes the initiative, produces two tornadoes with magic from both his arms and releases them at Katharina.
The part of creating two tornado spells at the same time from both hands can be expected of a skilled magician, I thought.
“However… With Katharina as opponent, that level of wind magic is…”
Katharina immediately deploys a tornado around her and negates the tornadoes released at her by 『Squall』.
“There’s still much more to come!”
Next 『Squall』 continues to release tornadoes with both arms, but all of them are repelled by the tornado Katharina has deployed around her.
“I guess you saw it. In such duels only the power of the spell and the amount of mana decides the outcome.”
“Only, you say?”
“Right. Other factors don’t play a role!”
In the end 『Squall』, who used up his mana by continuing to release a series of tornadoes, gives up. This duel has finished.
He surrendered and gave his wand to Katharina.
“Likewise, I’m Roy Zalnier, the 『Flame Whip』, employed by the Browig household. I challenge you to a regular duel!” (Roy)
Next Katharina begins to fight with a 30-years old magician who can be considered to be of intermediate level and calls himself 『Flame Whip』.
He used flame whips in both hands, as expected, and started to attack Katharina by swinging them alternately.
The flame whips swoop down on Katharina with various timings.
Once Katharina defends against a hit from the front, an attack from right behind her comes at the same time.
Next, if she defends against attacks from her blind spot, the flame whip approaches at the same spot once again right away.
『Flame Whip』 has properly researched and trained this spell and has made it his own.
“Eeh! Isn’t he amazing?”
“『Flame Whip』 won’t have chance if he fights in these conditions.”
As a matter of fact, those skilful attacks, which used continuous hits and feints with the flame whips, were completely warded off by the water wall Katharina has cast.
No matter from where he attacks, he can’t break through the water wall. They were just fruitlessly raising water vapour with an evaporation sound of 『sizzling』.
“The magic of the fire attribute used by 『Flame Whip』 is his strongest attribute as it was mastered through long training. On the other hand Katharina-jou-chan belongs to the category of being bad at the water attribute.” (Burkhart)
Nevertheless Katharina’s water attribute is superior in regards to its power.
This is the wall between intermediate and advanced level that can’t be exceeded at all.
“He isn’t that different in strength to 『Squall』 from before. It’s evidence that the Margrave Browig household keeps employing several intermediate levelled magicians.”
After a few minutes 『Flame Whip』 ended up getting surrounded by a water wall deployed by Katharina as counter-attack and surrendered after throwing his wand away.
“Did you see my ability?” (Katharina)
Katharina returns together with the two magicians of the Browig household who became prisoners while having a proud expression.
Next other magicians began their duels in the place where she fought.
There were still several employed magicians who belonged to either the Browig household or the Breithilde household.
Usually it’s prohibited as it’s pointless to use magic for something like duels, but in such time of war it’s allowed as an exception.
Because they are able to obtain honour and rewards if they win, there were many magicians challenging to duels as it’s only allowed in such place.
“You didn’t have any troubles.” (Luise)
“Luise-san, it might be enjoyable for people who are looking forward to troubles, but for me that intolerable…” (Katharina)
“How to call it? It wasn’t dangerous at all.” (Luise)
“It’s that kind of duel after all.” (Katharina)
Luise begins to talk with Katharina, who came back, while passing her some tea.
“In combat there’s also the matter of losing if you are suddenly hit in a weak point, even as advanced level, but…”
Since one fights after a signal facing the opponent from the front in this kind of formal duels, it’s natural for the ones with strong magic power winning most of the times.
Rather you could even say that Katharina’s victories were inevitable.
“Taking by surprise is a good move.” (Ina)
“In actual combat that’s how it is, however these are one-on-one fights where you wager your honour.”
If you did something like a surprise attack in such one-on-one fight, it would result in you being treated as coward or similar.
“Since that’s the case, I would rather not suffer that”, Katharina explained to Ina.
“Hey, won’t Burkhart-san and Wend go for it?”
“I will pass.” (Burkhart)
Burkhart-san is the head of the employed magicians of the Margrave Breithilde household.
Seeing that the current Browig household doesn’t have a magician who could win against him, it’s necessary for him to yield the privilege to hold duels to those below.
“In the first place, what’s the point of me winning in this now?” (Burkhart)
If it’s achievements and honour, Burkhart-san has already obtained plenty of those.
As there’s no reason to especially fight against magicians who are of intermediate level and below, he will only get hated if he considered stealing the chances of the people below him.
“It’s the same for Wend as well, huh…?”
My achievements are plenty already. We have caught nobles, main retainers and soldiers of more than 40 household in this time’s battle.
It’s to the extent that I have been told 『It’s fine for you to rest now』 by Breithilde.
“What about doushi?” (Erwin)
“There’s no way he will come here, right?” (Wendelin)
It will become troublesome if the Royal Head Magician appears at a dispute between nobles of the East and South.
Despite that, I can fully understand Erw’s question.
If it’s that person, I couldn’t deny the possibility of him coming to participate in the duels since it seems to be fun.
“Besides, the Browig household’s side will cry.”
Given that he should naturally join our side as we are his acquaintances if doushi comes, the balance of war potential will shift into hopelessness and it will likely become terrible in that case.
“Umm, Wendelin-san, what’s my reward?” (Katharina)
“There isn’t any.” (Wendelin)
“Wai-! You are a noble as well, right!?” (Wendelin)
Katharina’s current position is that of the female family head of the Waigel household which are relatives of the Earl Baumeister household. She participated in the battle in accordance to Margrave Breithilde’s request.
Although she can’t send troops, she serves by raising achievements and helping out as excellent magician.
“The nobles, soldiers and magician caught by you will turn into profit due to the ransom, Katharina. It would be weird if you got a reward from me.” (Wendelin)
“Now that you mention it, that’s true…” (Katharina)
Even though she became the family head of a noble household, albeit temporarily, Katharina had somehow a weak awareness of that.
“Aren’t there many on the side of ransoms that lack an outline in some parts? As for the negotiations, it will be fine if we leave it to Heinz’ son who is acting as governor.” (Wendelin)
“That’s true! I will contact him right away!” (Katharina)
Knowing that increasing the money will make it possible to put it in the development of the Associate Baron Waigel household’s territory, Katharina began to drink her tea in a good mood.
“Katharina has it nice. I wanted to try the one-on-one battles, too.” (Luise)
“Wend-sama, I want to fight as well.” (Wilma)
“This is a battlefield, therefore it’s basically not allowed for a woman to participate.” (Ina)
Wilma and Luise, who haven’t done anything but being on cooking duty and training in the current dispute, have started to say that they also want to fight.
However, they were rebuked by Ina since it’s of course impossible.
“Before that even matters, for the guys, who would fight with Luise-jou-chan and Wilma-jou-chan, it will probably end in a disaster.” (Burkhart)
As Burkhart-san has said, if a grown man was to be utterly defeated in combat with Luise and Wilma, who can’t be regarded as anything but children, in the unlikely event they were allowed to fight, that person will have a fatal stain on his personal history as knight and noble.
Or rather, if you consider the abilities of Luise and Wilma, it will end with an utter defeat almost without any doubt.
“How about making an appearance after disguising myself as man?” (Luise)
“Luise, that’s a great idea.” (Wilma)
“Please stop it. It will be pitiful for your opponent.” (Burkhart)
Being chided by Burkhart-san, both of them finally gave up on joining the one-on-one fights.
“However, when will this end?” (Wendelin)
Seeing that a true clash of armies is impossible, there’s nothing much left but a stand-off once the duels of the few magicians finish.
It’s probably also necessary to compete with willpower, but that will turn into a pointless waste of money and food.
“Such things are a contest of endurance, my grandfather-sama said in the past.” (Elise)
While pouring a refill of tea, Elise answers my question.
I hear that there were similar disputes in Cardinal Hohenheim’s youth. It seems he has campaign experience as priest.
“The side which gets impatient first will apparently be in disadvantage if they are the ones saying 『Let’s have an arbitration』.”
At the current point in time, Browig’s camp has suffered a large defeat.
The crucial dispute areas in various locations have been occupied by our side even including the concessions and territories the nobles of Browig’s camp held before the war. Also many nobles and their military forces lost and have been captured by us.
“The Browig household’s side still has the motivation to persist this late in the game.”
“That’s because it can’t get any worse anymore after all.”
Even if they are more or less handicapped in the one-on-one battles, it’s not like the Margrave Browig main army has fallen apart.
Since it’s not possible for a true clash to happen, they are just trying to obtain advantageous conditions, even if only by a bit, for the arbitration by holding out.
“No, not at all. It won’t be an utter defeat anymore if the nobles of the concession disputes stay in touch with the original border.”
Before that even matters, it has been an overwhelming defeat in the disputed areas except for the main army.
I wasn’t able to comprehend the meaning in confronting the other main army by not giving in here.
“Isn’t it the time to withdraw with the current state of affairs?” (Wendelin)
At any rate, this time’s dispatch of troops by Browig’s camp has many incomprehensible aspects.
I have revenged their strange meddling with us. Also, the possibility of the supreme commander, who is Margrave Browig, not being with his main army is high.
There are rumours that he is ill, but as result of that, to what extent was he influencing this dispatch then?
Anyway, since he can’t guess the circumstances behind the scene either, there are parts which have baffled Margrave Breithilde as well.
Is it possible to have an arbitration like this?
From his standpoint, finishing this pointless dispute even a second earlier will become a profit for his side as he helped with our development.
In the end no messenger came to request an arbitration from the Browig household’s side. It looked like they wanted to continue the confrontation of both armies for a bit longer.
“Earl Baumeister, don’t you have some good idea?” (Breithilde)
Given that Katharina captured the leader and the number 2 magician of the Browig household in the duels among fellow magicians, it was decided to judge this as win for Breithilde’s camp.
As the number of magicians is low to begin with, the duels finished soon as well. After that the pointless stand-off of both armies has been continuing for 3 days.
With Margrave Breithilde feeling impatient as can be expected, he has come to ask whether I don’t know a good strategy to discourage the warriors on the opposing side.
“I’m not sure whether it will lower their morale, but is it allowed to cause a bit of turmoil among the other side?” (Wendelin)
“Are you going to fire off a spell?” (Breithilde)
“No way, I won’t do something that futile.” (Wendelin)
After I got Margrave Breithilde’s permission more or less, I put the strategy into practise.
“Wilma, were you able to write it?” (Wendelin)
“I have plenty of confidence.” (Wilma)
“Certainly, it’s beautiful.” (Wendelin)
I call out to Wilma who wrote characters on a large cloth in the troop headquarters of the Earl Baumeister household.
It’s unexpected, but since it actually was Wilma who wrote the most beautiful characters among my fiancées, I left it to her.
In a feudal army, that usually hasn’t many women around, the female camp, except Katharina who is a temporary family head as magician, prepares the meals for the soldiers and serves tea to Margrave Breithilde’s group. Elise passed her time as temporary priest of the campaign.
Wilma is as usually acting as Elise’s guard, but since her job of healing decreased during the long confrontation, she is helping me like this now.
“It’s true. It’s very skilful.”
“Luise sucks at writing, you know.”
“It’s different. My characters are creative.” (Luise)
Elise is skilled at writing as well, though it’s not to the degree of Wilma. It added to her legend as perfect superwoman.
Ina and Katharina are normal and Erw and me are a bit poor at it.
And Luise was at the point of it taking a bit time to decipher since she was quite bad at it.
“My letters might be helpful as codes in times of disputes like this.” (Luise)
“No, that’s not going to work.” (Wendelin)
Given that neither the enemy nor her allies can read it, it won’t do its job as code.
“You are rude, Wend. So, what’s this?” (Luise)
“A help wanted advertisement!” (Wendelin)
The idea, I came up with, to induce turmoil amongst the enemy was to invite new people into serving us in this place.
As the targets are wandering warriors, who are serving as mercenaries, the recruitment number is everyone if they get above a fixed level of ability and personality.
For the time being we have written five help wanted advertisements, but the plan was to use all of them if they reach the employment criterion’s.
Since I have no eyes to judge a person anyway, we decided to leave the judgement to Moritz and Klaus.
Although it’s mortifying, it’s impossible for me to win against the experienced Klaus in regards to judging a character.
“Hee, you will employ the excellent ones among the mercenaries?” (Burkhart)
Burkhart-san praised it as great idea.
We will establish a trial period because they don’t have letters of introduction, however it might resolve our shortfall of human resources a bit.
It’s fine to not employ them if they are no good. Even if the recruitment yields zero, it won’t be a drawback for us.
At any rate, I had free time for three days here with the only exception being magic training.
“We will agitate the other side’s mercenaries by showing the composure to do our usual work.”
Although it’s possible to get an interview if they are participating on the side of the Breithilde household, that’s impossible since they are on Browig’s side.
Albeit them being only mercenaries, I thought that the possibility of the other side’s warriors to get discouraged was high.
“Ah, we will accept interviews and employment examinations for both sides.”
“Are you serious!? You are doing something unprecedented. However, it’s not a bad idea, huh…?”
A few minutes later Wilma is holding up a help wanted advertisement, written on a big cloth, between both armies.
Come! Applicants for governmental service! The Earl Baumeister household is carrying out special employment examinations without the necessity of a letter of introduction.
Recruitment requirement: If you satisfy our employment criterion’s, up to 50 people can join going by order from the top.
Salary: Will be explained at the interview.
Type of occupation: We are taking applicants who have experience and ability in civil official duties. We are also recruiting guard personnel. There is a system to appoint excellent people to leading positions.
Note: Currently it’s also possible for the people, who are on Browig’s side, to sit in on the employment examination.
“Somehow it’s amazing…”
Immediately after we presented those help wanted advertisements almost all mercenaries from both armies rushed in.
Since it’s far too many, we borrowed manpower from Margrave Breithilde and Burkhart-san and proceeded with the interviews and employment examinations.
The location was the grasslands between both armies where the one-on-one battles were held. We checked their martial arts skills, had written examinations of their calculation and writing style and lastly held interviews with the choice being made by Moritz and Klaus.
Browig’s camp was simply watching dumbfoundedly at this this common sense destroying event.
In such war where people won’t die and with no other customs or rules besides that, there’s also no law prohibiting to invite mercenaries to employment examinations until now. There was no foundation to make complaints towards me either.
“In short, it means that it’s beyond expectations.” (Breithilde)
Margrave Breithilde laughed while looking at the state of the hurriedly started employment examinations.
“Certainly, even the mercenaries hired by us have ended up heading to the employment examinations of the Earl Baumeister household…”
They get a place to eat as well as sleep and they will receive a letter of commendation and rewards if they capture an enemy knight in a one-on-one battle or such, but mercenaries basically aren’t expected to do anything but to boost the numbers of the military forces.
Something like new jobs, no matter how much it’s the two households of Breithilde and Browig, it’s not that simple to offer those.
Even so, the mercenaries of Browig’s side are employed until this disputes finishes.
Albeit that, they are all participating in the employment examinations of the Earl Baumeister household which is on the enemy’s side.
As for the plan to spread turmoil and bewilderment amongst them, I believe it to be effective.
“I will be happy if they bring up the topic of arbitration with this, but…”
In the end we have employed 86 mercenaries at the employment examination taking place for over 2 days.
With a trial period of a half year, they would start from the lowest position in the beginning, however they were very happy.
“Even those lower positions are usually unobtainable unless you have connections and a letter of introduction.”
The young people of retainers and the fief’s population get preference before a new stranger gets chosen.
“However, it was an amazing spectacle.”
The newly employed 86 people boarded a magic airship today in the early morning and headed to the Baumeister Earldom.
After receiving a fresh recruit training at the actual site, each of them will be assigned to their own workplace.
If there are no issues after half a year, they will become official government servants.
Having employed almost half of the mercenaries who were on Browig’s side in the end, the failed bunch returned to the encampment of the Browig household’s camp nonchalantly. Even the soldiers of the Browig army were apparently dumbfounded.
Be that as it may, it’s not possible to dismiss them.
If they leave, the low-cost military forces will decrease.
“From the viewpoint of Browig’s side, mercenaries, who leave in the middle to participate in the enemy’s employment examination, don’t deserve any trust, I think, however as it was a chance for the mercenaries, there must be a reason they weren’t accepted, too.”
The morale of Browig’s camp has fallen once again from this.
Although the plan was successful, I wished from the bottom of my heart that they would start the arbitration as soon as possible.