Chapter 88 – Too many cooks spoil the broth


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“Hmmmm. It’s possible to eat it normally.” (Armstrong)

“It’s not delicious though.”

“It’s fodder for horses after all.”

Two weeks after the duel with Haruka’s elder brother; during the continuous, long encampment I endeavoured in my hobby of food research after finishing my training in magic today as well.
If one were to ask why I’m doing something like that, it’s because it is my free time once I finish my assigned work and training.
Be that as it may, I’m not doing anything that complicated.
At a section of the training venue located in the encampment of Earl Mizuho Country’s national army, the three of us are simply creating stew by using a big pot on a portable magic stove.
Our most recent subject was the practical application of the Idiot Daikon that has been cultivated in large quantities on the fields by the garrison as fodder for the horses.
Is there any way to cook these unappetizing Idiot Daikon into something delicious?
It’s a difficult problem we are unable to tackle successfully, therefore it’s something to get us fired up, no… allowing us to waste time.

◆◇◆◇◆

『Wendelin, thou are doing something strange there.』 (Therese)

『Humans can’t survive without eating.』 (Wendelin)

Even throughout the astonishment of Therese who is already staying permanently at the field encampment that finished its expansion, I continue my trial and error.
Also the rebel army led by Duke Nürnberg has deployed several forces of a few thousands in the vicinity to watch out over this field encampment, but as of yet there’s no sign of them sending forth a large army.
According to the intelligence of our spies, they seem to be struggling with the eastern and western parts close to the center and the south.
No matter how much they have taken the family heads as hostages, the prince-elector households probably won’t obediently listen to what they are told.

『There’s someone just like them on our side as well』 (Therese)

The Duke Baden household, the sole prince-elector following our side except the Duke Philip household, seems to have initiated various schemes to seize the initiative.
Because there will only be two emperor candidates left after the rebel army got defeated, it appears that his greed is gradually peeking out.
It doesn’t seem that he will pull the rug from below our feet for now since we have the same goal, but getting impatient due to the current situation, the young Duke Baden reached the point of talking about capturing several cities and bases.
Amassing several military victories besides the first battle will establish our superiority over the rebel army.
The young Duke Baden proposed this strategic plan at the regular meeting and received support from several noble households that have sent out additional troops after being able to invite many estranged noble households that were hesitating because of the rebel army’s conduct.
Therese said that it’s possible for that to be a temptation. She is rejecting that strategic plan as Duke Nürnberg might have adopted a waiting stance and thus it’s possible they will suffer an unexpected surprise attack if they split up the military forces into smaller groups.
As someone that has no military talent, I don’t know which side is correct, but my personal opinion leans towards Therese’s plan.
The reason for that is that I felt something similar to impatience from the young Duke Baden.
I’m sure that he wants to accumulate meritorious deeds until the civil war ends in order to be allowed to hold a fair emperor election between him and Therese.
Is there any benefit for the the supporting nobles if young Duke Baden becomes the emperor? There are many nobles who simply want to earn rewards by obtaining military achievements.
Seeing that it can be considered as definite that the influence of the big nobles will change after the war, it’s the best chance to increase one’s peerage and territory.

◆◇◆◇◆

“This stew, it’s more delicious with normal daikon, you know?”

“Even though I thought it would work out well since it’s miso stew…”

Entrails are prepared with miso and a vegetable stew boiled inside the big pot placed on the portable magic stove while making a simmering sound.

“Certainly, using normal daikon makes it tastier, but it’s not like it’s inedible either.”

Doushi starts to eat the miso stew that got boiled in the big pot.
Burkhart-san stopped eating it after just tasting a bit of it.

“As expected, the taste of the Idiot Daikon itself is bad, I guess.”

While considering today to be a failure as well, I take out another portable magic stove from my magic bag and begin to heat up a big pot I took out likewise.
Inside the pot is amazake. The amazake, that was heated with magic from above as well, heated up to a good temperature within a few minutes.

“Burkhart-san, you will drink it, won’t you?”

“I will. Since there’s no way for me to drink alcohol in the morning, amazake is a welcome alternative.” (Burkhart)

It was great that I bought sake lees from a peddler staying at the encampment of Earl Mizuho Country’s national army to use them with the boiled lees since it’s still cold outside.
Since the Mizuho dishes are mostly Japanese food, it’s a great delight that they suit my taste as well.

“Please don’t drink too much, okay? We are waiting for Elise and the others to prepare breakfast.” (Wendelin)

“I know, I know.” (Burkhart)

“I will drink one cup as well.” (Armstrong)

Doushi, who ate all the miso stew that Burkhart-san and me judged as flop, requested some amazake as well.
Since it won’t have any particular impact on breakfast in Doushi’s case even if he eats heavily here, neither of us cautions him.

“Here you go.”

“This is the best on a chilly morning, ain’t it?”

“What are you three doing?”

“As usual we are waiting for you, Erw.”

“Please stop it because it’s embarrassing~~~~!” (Erwin)

At a section where many soldiers and samurai of the Earl Mizuho Country’s national army were earnestly practicing, the three of us were creating stew by using a pot on a portable magic stove while not minding the looks of the surroundings.
It’s gone to such a degree that one might even call it depravity, but because of the lacking activity of the rebel army, we had free time.

“They probably won’t particularly mind since we aren’t instigating war euphoria like the young Duke Baden.” (Wendelin)

“That’s right. It’s just as Earl-sama says. One more amazake please.” (Burkhart)

“Please continue your training without caring about us. One more for me as well.” (Armstrong)

“I do mind!” (Erwin)

Erw seems to consider our existence as embarrassment.
I don’t think it’s necessary for him to mind us making stew in a pot that much though.

“Do you want some amazake?” (Wendelin)

“… Yes…” (Erwin)

Even so, it seems that he will drink amazake.
He quietly received the cup with the amazake in it from Doushi.

“Haruka, do you want some as well?” (Wendelin)

“Yes.” (Haruka)

Even Haruka, who’s next to Erw, receives a cup from Burkhart-san.

“Well, what to say. Seeing as it’s necessary for us to wait, it’s also indispensable for us to moderately relax our attention.”

As Burkhart-san says; as the war has passed the stage of an early end, it will be meaningless if we lose by getting impatient.
Sometimes it’s necessary for an army to wait.

“Though I can also understand your feeling of wanting the war to end swiftly since that will speed up your marriage, Erw.” (Wendelin)

Due to my comment, Haruka’s face became bright red.
The blushing face of a beautiful samurai girl makes quite the picture.
Erw kept his cool on the surface.
Given that he has some experience with women, he likely won’t show his shame openly.

“No, since I don’t want to get killed in action because I hurried before the marriage, I can understand that we have to wait. What I want to tell you is to not cook things in a pot at a section of the practice ground though…” (Erwin)

“You won’t be able to fight on an empty stomach. It’s a research regarding the valid practical use of Idiot Daikon that hasn’t been used for anything but fodder for cattle until now.”

“On a first glance that’s a fair argument, but going by your appearances, it doesn’t look like that’s what you are doing here, does it?” (Erwin)

Erw revealed a fed-up expression at the trio of a boy, a middle-aged man and an elderly man who are simply looking at the state of the cooking big pot.
Regarding Erw’s marriage, since it was approved by High Earl Mizuho and Haruka’s elder brother in the end, they have officially become engaged.
However, at first it was terrible because Haruka was very shaken.

◆◇◆◇◆

『I will marry?』 (Haruka)

Haruka herself hadn’t realized Erw’s feelings at all.
She seems to be unfamiliar with the subtleties of romance to begin with. It appears that she thought she would stay single for her entire life while devoting herself to the sword.
A part of her also thought that there won’t be any men who would want someone like her as wife.

『If you dislike Erw, no one will force you though.』 (Wendelin)

『No, dislike is… On the contrary, Erw-san is, for a woman like me…』 (Haruka)

Although Haruka was a beauty in the Battou Unit, rude comrades, who tried to make a move on her, had been removed by her elder brother and she was apparently kept at distance by the team members saying that they wouldn’t like it to lose to a woman in practice.
Her practice partners were just the few other female unit members, her elder brother and those unit members who were stronger than her.
From Haruka’s viewpoint, she probably saw Erw as likeable man who learns swordsmanship even from a woman.
Even if, for example, the learning of swordsmanship from Haruka itself is nothing more than a reward from Erw’s viewpoint.

『Seeing as Erw has said that it’s fine, the rest depends on what you are thinking, Haruka, right?』 (Wendelin)

『Me, you say…?』 (Haruka)

『Right. It’s about what you yourself think about it.』 (Wendelin)

『Earl Baumeister-sama, you are strange. There wouldn’t be any problem even if you forcefully ordered me to do it.』 (Haruka)

『I’m a timid person after all. It would be unbearable if I received a surprise attack by the unhappy wife of my retainer. There won’t be any compulsion.』 (Wendelin)

『I see. I think I will accept this marriage.』 (Haruka)

『That’s excellent.』 (Wendelin)

『The only ones who have treated me as woman until now were my female colleagues in the Battou Unit, my older brother and Erw-san. Erw-san is always gentle to me.』 (Haruka)

Since Erw is deeply in love with the Mizuho beauty Haruka, it’s only natural for him to treat her kindly, I think.
However, this natural treatment probably made her happy.
She accepted my request happily while blushing a bit.

『Then it’s settled, I suppose.』 (Wendelin)

The engagement between Erw and Haruka was smoothly set in stone like this.
High Earl Mizuho stated his aristocratic opinion of 『Though it’s fine if it’s a daughter of a retainer with a higher social rank』, but Erw easily drew back by saying that Haruka is fine. Even Haruka’s older brother can’t go against an order from above.
Since there’s also the fact that he lost in the duel against me, he is gladly accepting his younger sister’s marriage on the surface.
In exchange for that, it became a famous sight of him staring at the two, who are happily training together every morning, while looking at them bitterly from the start to the end.
I think that you should rather do something about him than us three cooking here.
Also, Erw, who is full of happiness now that the marriage has been decided, was slightly annoying.
I haven’t said anything since it was the same for me when I was newly-wed at first, but he is encouraging me to take lessons in katana techniques with a high tension.

『It will be nice if you take lessons from Haruka as well, Wend.』 (Erwin)

『Nope.』 (Wendelin)

Since Erw has a talent for handling katana, he has become a good pupil, but I will probably only get exhausted pointlessly even if I take lessons from her.
Something like talent with katana is non-existent in me.

『Don’t get killed in action due to being too cheerful. From time immemorial, soldier have said things like 『I will marry once this war has ended…』 and then actually died with a quite high probability.』 (Wendelin)

『I have never heard something like that.』 (Erwin)

『Really?』

『It’s knowledge from some book…』

It seems that something like a death flag that has been often mentioned on earth doesn’t exist.
At least Erw didn’t know about it.

『I remember it.』 (Ina)

『Ina knows about it.』

『It’s probably from some story anyway.』

『However, authors wrote it from their past experience and it was also mentioned in documents. In addition there have even been children born and such…』

I didn’t read them, but it seems Ina really had seen such story settings.
There are people sensing something like such a rule even in a different world.

『Something so ill-omened for a married couple… I will hold a happy ceremony with Haruka after the war.』 (Erwin)

Erw, who was at the peak of happiness, completely disregarded my and Ina’s statements.
Because even I think that such rule is quite disturbing, I won’t mind it if he ignores it completely as long as he makes sure to not be too merry.

◆◇◆◇◆

“Rather than bothering with our cooking, do something about that depressing guy.”

It’s not the fault of our cooking.
Even now we are popular due to Doushi distributing amazake to those interested. Amazake that’s full of nutrition is good for one’s health after working out.
Right, amazake is health food.
It’s no different from drinking a sports drink after club activities.

“Even though he has been told off even by a big shot of the Battou Unit, is there anything you can do?”

Currently Haruka’s elder brother is looking at Erw and Haruka while bearing a grudge.
He is properly carrying out his training and work, but it has reached the point that a leader of the Battou Unit has come to Erw telling him 『Please do something about this since the mood is getting worse』.
Doushi gives him amazake as he considers him to look pitiful, but he drinks it all up in one go and once again looks at Erw with a hateful expression.

“Haruka, what does your onii-san like?”

“Umm, katana.” (Haruka)

A reply that was very easy to understand.
I guess they are a pair of younger sister and elder brother that resembled each other.

“In that case… O~~~~i, Haruka’s onii-san.”

“Earl Baumeister-sama, I don’t mind if you call me Takeomi…” (Takeomi)

Haruka’s brother throws a reproachful stare at Erw who stole his cute younger sister, but he normally expresses his respect to me who took him down in a duel as Earl.
Once I called out to him, he reverently bowed his head to me.

“As a matter of fact, I want you to try out the new orichalcum katana I requested some time ago.” (Wendelin)

Kaneda-san has already completed two sets of small and big katana in this short time.

『Once I got into it, I completely forget about the other katana.』 (Kaneda)

Since it will interfere with his other work if he concentrates on them this much, he finished two sets of orichalcum katana first.

“Erw is still inexperienced with katana. Thus I’d like Takeomi-san to try out the new katana…” (Wendelin)

“Please leave it to me! No way, for me to try out an orichalcum katana while I’m still alive…” (Takeomi)

I hear that for a samurai of the Mizuho people an orichalcum katana is the most valuable item they want to obtain one day.
From the view of a lower-ranked retainer such as Takeomi-san, it seems to be an item that will give him good luck by just swinging it.

“After breakfast we will come to this training area once again. It seems Kaneda-san will bring the completed orichalcum katana then.”

“Leave it to me.” (Takeomi)

The sullen expression completely vanished from Takeomi-san’s face and instead it was brimming with delight that he will be able to test the new orichalcum katana directly after they have been finished.

“(Sword Junkie…) Umm. Because of that…” (Wendelin)

I have asked him to not show a displeased expression towards Erw.
Though I guess it’s probably in vain.
He does his work properly. And since it’s not like he’s pointing such expression towards me, I have no basis to actually warn him about it.

“No matter how much you order me about it, Earl Baumeister-sama, this is a mere instinct.” (Takeomi)

“Is that so…?” (Wendelin)

Due to that answer lacking any hesitation, it resulted in me understanding the sinfulness of being a sis-con from the bottom of my heart.

◆◇◆◇◆

 

“It’s a beautiful katana.” (Takeomi)

“Once you look at it, the blade has a certain charming.” (Elise)

Having eaten the breakfast prepared by Elise and the others, we once again gathered at the training area located in Earl Mizuho Country’s national army’s encampment.
Dozens of training puppets that wore the plate mails and shields of the dead from the rebel army, which had been plundered at the previous battle, have been deployed.
They were offered for testing the new katana since they are treated as scrap iron that has no other reuse but being melted down and getting recast due to their devastating damages.
The usual members of me, Elise and the other girls, Burkhart-san, Doushi, Haruka and Takeomi-san have assembled in front of the puppets.
In addition there were High Earl Mizuho and his close associates, and Kaneda-san together with his pupils who had prepared something like a small stand and placed the two sets of finished orichalcum katana on it.
Without delay Kaneda-san draws one of the orichalcum katana and displays its blade, but even Elise, who is unrelated to katana, is fascinated by its beauty.
High Earl Mizuho and his retinue leaked sighs of admiration, too.

“As expected of you, Kaneda. Even compared to the work of the first Kaneda, there’s nothing inferior to be found. However, what’s disappointing is that those are not my katana.” (Toyomune)

The owner of these two sets of small and large katana was Erw.
In exchange for those, the orichalcum-made sword that cut the rock golems in Herthania Valley like tofu is hanging at my waist.
I switched it because I can still use swords normally.

“It’s usable as magician killer, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it will probably be a threat for any elementary magician.”

Burkhart-san revealed a complicated smile while looking at the shining blade.
An orichalcum katana has the power to break through a lousy 『Magic Barrier』.
A magic katana possesses the same trait. if it’s a 『Magic Barrier』 deployed by an elementary magician, it’s possible for them to pierce through it.
If it’s an orichalcum-made sword it will be difficult, but not so if it’s an orichalcum katana.
I guess this technology is the biggest factor why Earl Mizuho Country preserved its uniqueness.

“Earl Baumeister, it seems that you have requested the production of a further three sets, but…” (Toyomune)

“Yes.” (Wendelin)

“I wonder, would you sell them to me after all?” (Toyomune)

“Sell, you say? There are various things such as trade agreements that are tied after a war, right?” (Wendelin)

It was easy to merely sell it at market price, but that’s brainless.
But I guess as someone calling himself a noble I have to make it possess further value for the sake of the Baumeister Earldom.

“(Is what Elise said, I think)” (Wendelin)

“You are gradually becoming underhanded like a noble, Earl Baumeister.” (Toyomune)

“After all I saw this many people die.” (Wendelin)

It seems to be like that for me and my wives, but even if this civil war gets settled, it will take time to correct the striking disparity in national power between the empire and the kingdom after the war.
Including the matter of us fighting in the empire while being treated as mercenaries, the number of nobles, who will treat me as enemy and try to use me, will probably increase in the kingdom as well.
The reaction of the royal family will be scary as well. That’s why I believed it necessary to form a connection with the empire and Earl Mizuho Country.
Seeing that I can use the orichalcum katana as tool for that, it was indispensable to sell them as highly as possible.

“Even if I forcefully demanded them now, I guess I will only offend you, Earl Baumeister.” (Toyomune)

While High Earl Mizuho and I are talking, Takeomi-san, who received an orichalcum katana from Kaneda-san, calmly cuts the puppets apart in a series after getting ready.
The puppets that had plate mail equipped and were slashed through diagonally, exposed splendid cut ends.

“A steel plate mail cut in two equal parts…?” (Wendelin)

“That’s because Takeomi is a young swordsman with a lot of expectations. He has the slight tendency to go on a rampage if it involves his younger sister though…” (Toyomune)

It seems Takeomi-san’s swordsmanship skills are excelling to the degree that even his lord is aware of them.
At the same time it seemed like the matter of him being a sis-con was famous as well though.

“I have decided to entrust Takeomi in your care for a while, too, Earl Baumeister.” (Toyomune)

“What’s this about?” (Wendelin)

“Do you know what Therese-dono is currently doing?” (Toyomune)

“I have heard that she’s at a meeting.” (Wendelin)

It’s wonderful that I haven’t been courted thanks to that, but it appears that those meetings are a pain in the neck according to what High Earl Mizuho says.

“Of course they are also a pain in the neck for Therese-dono and Alfons.” (Toyomune)

Since there was no battle for around one month, young Duke Baden and the others were apparently getting more and more impatient.
Gathering supporters among the other nobles as well, they seem to demand for the occupation of a part of the cities and fortresses.

“Will they commit the foolishness of splitting our military forces at this point?” (Wendelin)

“As far as them not closing in on us in this month is concerned, it’s necessary to consider the possibility of a trap.” (Toyomune)

“What they desire are meritorious deeds and plunder?” (Wendelin)

“As expected, since it’s a civil war, the pillaging of common citizens and assaults against women and children will lead to decapitation.” (Toyomune)

Since it’s an act of an octopus eating its own feet, Therese has given out the directive that it’s strictly forbidden.
As young Duke Baden is aiming to become emperor as well, he will likely prevent pointlessly amassing infamy.

“However, there are exceptions.” (Toyomune)

There are the items looted after crushing the rebel army, and the military funds as well as the reserve goods of the rebel army.
These would become reasonable earnings that can’t be sneezed at.

“They seem to demand the capture of the Commercial City Halbert, 30 kilometres to the south from here. And also the strongholds in its vicinity.” (Toyomune)

Young Duke Baden and the other apparently wanted to advance the front to the line of the several strongholds located in the surroundings of Halbert and change this field encampment in the Great Sorbid Wastelands into a safe rear base.
Therese and Alfons are rejecting that, but there are unexpectedly many nobles approving of that aggressive plan. It seems that the currently held meeting is about that.

“Is it all right for you to not participate, High Earl Mizuho?” (Wendelin)

“We have been totally left out.” (Toyomune)

The hard fighting of the samurai resounding even in the legends, the highly offensive power due to the magic katana and magic guns, the quality and quantity of magicians that isn’t inferior at all; the Earl Mizuho Country’s national army that obtained many achievements thanks to the powerful cavalry in the pursuit battle, was told to hold back this time by young Duke Baden.

“It’s not like I want to become emperor either though.” (Toyomune)

“It might be about things like the division of territory after the war, I guess.” (Wendelin)

Something bitter shadowed the face of High Earl Mizuho for an instant.
Therese promised an increase of territory to Earl Mizuho Country for entering the war.
Also, there’s the appointment as prince-elector household.
This can be seen as honour, but it’s also something tying Earl Mizuho Country to the empire.
It seems they will be politely given a territory facing the sea.
That should be something delightful for the Mizuho people who love marine products, but as it will at the same time increase the territory they have to protect besides the Akitsu Basin, defence will become troublesome.
There’s also the problem of ruling the people living in the new territory.
Because there will be different races, it will cause various troublesome matters.
Their true opinion is that they want to refuse it, but there’s no way they can do that either. It’s probably a delicate situation for High Earl Mizuho.

“That means that times are changing, but the consideration of how to advance the changes is difficult…” (Toyomune)

It means that difficult times in his leadership are closing in on High Earl Mizuho.
No matter whether they win or lose, the increase in work for royalty and nobles was bothersome.

“It’s dangerous to make light of Therese-dono just because she’s a woman. But I wonder whether she will be able to dismiss the aggressive plan of young Duke Baden and his supporters.” (Toyomune)

Before I noticed, the testing of the new orichalcum katana switched over to Haruka.
It appears that her skills are slightly inferior to those of Takeomi-san, but there’s no doubt that she’s an expert.
As if she’s cutting paper, she cut a puppet wearing full plate right in half.

“The younger sister possesses good skills as well. She might be the most suited as your guard, Earl Baumeister.” (Toyomune)

“It seems that she’s been a guard before, but is there some work for us as well?”

“That’s very likely. Good grief, although it will be fine if we attack with just us…”

Concluding the testing of the new katana safely, it was decided that Erw and Haruka will use the two sets of orichalcum katana.
Since another set will be finished in three days, I planned to lend it to Takeomi-san who would accompany me.

“Even just lending is wonderful.” (Takeomi)

Takeomi-san was very happy, but his face becomes frightening once he sees Erw after all.
If a sis-con can be aggravated up to this point, it might be splendid in a certain sense.
And, just as High Earl Mizuho has said, once we returned to our house, Therese lied in wait there while wearing a regretful expression.

“Sorry. I couldn’t ward off the opposition.” (Therese)

“Is it our turn as well?” (Wendelin)

“Together with the Earl Mizuho Country’s national army. The target is the Talberg Mountain Fortress.” (Therese)

Therese-sama spread a map on the table.

“Its location is around 20 km to the south-east from here. It’s a stronghold located on top of a trapezoid-shaped mountain with an altitude of around 600 meters.” (Therese)

“The main target, the commercial city, is the target of young Duke Baden and his followers?”

Monopolizing the flashy military gains to themselves, they apparently managed to push the bonus-like fortress to us.
Though, before that, I couldn’t detect the meaning in capturing that fortress.

“Time for mountain climbing?”

“Aren’t there any other fortresses, considering Burkhart-san’s age?” (Erwin)

“Don’t treat others like old people!” (Burkhart)

Burkhart-san’s fist drops on the head of Erw who said something unnecessary.

“Judging it just from the map, I can’t find any military significance or such, but…”

Even Doushi seems unable to grasp the intention behind capturing the Talberg Mountain Fortress.

“This fortress was a front-line base at the time when the empire was capturing the north.”

Having fulfilled its role, it’s nowadays existing as measure against brigands.

“Be that as it may, brigands don’t appear on the northern highway. It’s to the degree of a robber appearing once in a while.” (Therese)

Since there’s a constant patrol of guards, it has conversely become easy to be caught by brigands who formed an alliance with conspirators.
So, if you ask why this fortress exists…

“If it’s left alone, strange folks will settle in there. And it belongs to the imperial army. They objected towards the reduction of posts.” (Therese)

Since being commander of the Talberg Mountain Fortress is an important post, there has been large opposition within the army when they tried to get rid of it.
Due to the strong resistance from within the army against lowering the posts they have been appointed to, they couldn’t cut it off until now.

“It’s similar to a story I heard somewhere else.”

“Anyone can understand that it’s a waste of military budget, but they are reluctant that their own posts and wages will disappear due to the reduction.”

There seems to be no difference between the kingdom and the empire in this regard.

“Besides, it’s not like there’s no use for it in the current war situation.”

Going by its location, it’s possible to apply tactics such as cutting the supply line and dispatching soldiers from there once we advance towards the imperial capital, Therese explains.
Therefore it’s necessary to place guards there after occupying it once, she says.

“That young Duke Baden isn’t a terrible idiot either.” (Katharina)

“He has ordinary ability befitting the heir of a Duke household. That’s why it’s troublesome in reverse.” (Therese)

Therese showed a baffled expression due to Katharina’s wicked tongue.
In reality, he has formed a group that might be called his own faction approving of his aggressive plan in a short time.

“So, you are telling us to capture it by ourselves?”

“Of course not. It will be a joint operation with us.”

In the previous battle at the field encampment in the Great Sorbid Wastelands the achievements of the Mizuho national army, who even unleashed its new weapon, the magic guns, were enormous. Apparently that’s why they have been removed from the responsibility of capturing Halbart which is the main target.

“We will send around 1500 troops. I will leave the command to my younger brother, but I don’t want to incur any losses as much as possible.” (Therese)

According to the reconnaissance personally sent out by High Earl Mizuho, there were apparently around 100 guards originally stationed in the Talberg Mountain Fortress, but it seems that Duke Nürnberg has already sent an additional reinforcement of 100 soldiers.
The Talberg Mountain Fortress is on the summit of the Talberg Mountain, allowing an invasion only on the mountain road continuing towards the summit.
The fortress’ front gate is only accessible from that mountain road. The rest of the fortress is surrounded by precipitous cliffs, according to the previous information.

“It looks like there will be losses.”

“True.”

The guards number 200 and there are no magicians. It’s not like the guards are elites either.
But, if we were to foolishly storm the fortress’ front gate with 1500 soldiers, that will probably cause heavy losses to arrows and such.

“How about shooting them with magic guns?”

“Although it depends on the distance, it’s still impossible to snipe precisely. With the effect range being around 100 meters, that much is also in the counter-attack range of crossbows and longbows.”

High Earl Mizuho likely doesn’t want to suffer losses in a siege battle over a small fortress that hasn’t much significance.
There’s still the decisive battle against Duke Nürnberg after all.

“I guess there’s no other choice but to somehow handle it with magic.”

“I request that by all means. As for the reward, Therese-dono said that she will add something special.”

“Haa…”

I dislike working for free, but in Therese’s case it highly likely that she will say something like “I will pay with my own body.”
As a man it might be considered as acceptable, but as war reward I feel like that’s too cheap.
Instead, if you think about the demerits, it’s actually a loss, I think.

“Earl Baumeister, Therese-dono likes you quite a bit. It’s difficult to match each other’s positions, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“She’s a beautiful woman if it weren’t for her being a Duchess though.”

Two days later after we performed the sword testing, a mixed army of 15.000 soldiers led by young Duke Baden and ten-odd nobles sortied to capture Halbert.
In addition the nobles also dispatched around 10.000 soldiers to take bases and strongholds in four places. The Mizuho national army and us were dispatched together with the soldiers to capture the Talberg Mountain Fortress as last.
Therese stays back at the field encampment in the Great Sorbid Wastelands together with around 30.000 soldiers that were obtained as additional reinforcements from the rear.
She was apparently told to not advance to the front by young Duke Baden since she’s the supreme commander, but there’s the scramble for achievements and it seems that he dislikes her trying to depart to the battlefield since she’s a female family head.

“We will take it quickly and return?”

According to the reconnaissance, it’s planned for us to capture this place easily with the dispatched forces.
But, it doesn’t change the fact that our military forces have been split up.
There’s even the possibility of us losing after suffering an unexpected surprise attack.
It was necessary to capture the Talberg Mountain Fortress swiftly by ourselves and to prepare for that.

“Wilma, how’s the new prototype magic gun?”

“Won’t know until using it.” (Wilma)

The march to the Talberg Mountain Fortress finished in a full two days.
The Mizuho national army was on standby at a place where the arrows from the the fortress’ front gate won’t reach and just now we sent a messenger to advice them to surrender.
It might be fortunate that there was no surprise attacks yet, but there’s also the reason that they won’t be able to stage a surprise attack anyway because there’s no other means of attack except by using the mountain road.
Since there won’t be any dead or injured if they surrender obediently, there’s no loss in trying.

『We are thankful for your recommendation to surrender, but our orders are to defend to the last man.』

But then again we ended up getting splendidly declined by the fortress’ defence commander in such way.

“I wondered whether I will snipe them with magic, but I never expected for there to be such prototype.”

Asking Wilma about her condition was because it was a prototype magic gun I had borrowed from High Earl Mizuho.
Its barrel is long, and it has a scope for aiming and rifling that has been attempted for the first time. The gunstock’s shape has been improved as well.
Theoretically it seems to be possible to snipe a target at a distance of around 300 meters, but this magic sniping gun was a so-called defective product.
You can’t shoot more than once with the magic gem provided due to its bad efficiency on the mana consumption.

“Wend-sama, using this or shooting with magic, which is more efficient?” (Wilma)

“As a matter of fact it’s this prototype sniper rifle.” (Wendelin)

Although it would be fine to fire my own nut-shaped bullets with tungsten content with magic just like before, the mana consumption will become large if it’s sniping at this distance.
I pondered whether I should loose off shells with large-scale magic, but it won’t accomplish its meaning as defensive base if we don’t hand it over to the following guards after capturing it without damaging it as much as possible.
Accordingly it resulted in me entrusting it to Wilma who is familiar with the treatment of weapons by supplying mana to her.
Actually magic guns have also been lent to Erw, Haruka and Takeomi-san.
Since they were a loan, we couldn’t keep them, but since they will become unusable without their regular secret maintenance anyway, there should be no meaning in keeping them either.
The other day young Duke Baden and his followers looked regretful as they failed in obtaining magic guns.

“Wend-sama, whom do I target?” (Wilma)

“Umm…” (Wendelin)

Wilma and I fell back slightly behind Mizuho’s national army and observed the state of the fortress with binoculars and scope on top of a huge rock that was off the mountain road.
On top of the walls around 50 soldiers have prepared their bows and are setting up ballistae for defence.
And there were several commanding officers giving them orders as well as their subordinates.

“First the commander, I suppose.” (Wendelin)

“Affirmative. I will try shooting him first.” (Wilma)

Wilma displayed ability matching the warriors of the Mizuho national army’s magic gun squad that had been present at the previous test firing, but this time she will aim at a human and not an artificial target.
It was also possible that she will fail after getting shaken unexpectedly.

“Are you all right?” (Wendelin)

“Yes.” (Wilma)

“Don’t force yourself.” (Wendelin)

“I’m your wife and also your spear and shield, Wend-sama. That’s why I will be fine.” (Wilma)

Wilma continues her unusual speech while setting up the magic sniping gun.

“Wend-sama, you created a place and time where I can enjoy myself.” (Wilma)

Wilma couldn’t marry into a normal noble household due to her Hero Syndrome.
Luckily she was picked up by Minister Edgar, but I guess it would still be difficult for her to marry anyone besides me.
No matter how much physical strength she possesses, she won’t be able to serve in the current royal army. Therefore she would have no other choice but to earn the money for her own food expenses as adventurer or by working behind the scenes as protege hidden by Minister Edgar.

“If I’m together with you, every day is fun, Wend-sama. Therefore I will dye my body with the sin of killing people, whose faces I don’t know, to protect this place I call home. I will egotistically kill people for the sake of those who know you and me, Wend-sama.” (Wilma)

“I see. Truth to be told, I’m the same as well.” (Wendelin)

I will kill Duke Nürnberg, who has staged a rebellion and is freely using a device that blocks my sole prided magic, and then I will destroy that device.
For that reason I’m continuing after having already killed several hundred people.

“It also the same for Erw, Elise-sama, Ina, Luise and Katharina.” (Wilma)

They probably became my friends out of selfish interests at first, but now we are sharing a common destiny.
Therefore even Elise has accompanied us to the capture of the Talberg Mountain Fortress.

“Let’s finish this quickly and think up a menu for dinner, okay?” (Wendelin)

“That’s nice.” (Wilma)

Wilma loads a bullet that had its size adjusted by me into the sniper rifle.
All magic guns are loaded from the front. The bullets themselves are round just like those of matchlocks.
However, since a round ball is useless for rifling, I matched the chinquapin nut shaped bullet, that I use to make them fly with mana, with the gun barrel by adjusting its size with magic.

“It enters smoothly.” (Wilma)

Wilma loaded the gun barrel with a bullet she received from me.
Putting aside the gun barrel, there are many strange contrivances in the magic gun.
Since the bullet is fired with mana instead of gunpowder, the magic gem has been completely embedded.
The bullet will be discharged once the trigger is pulled, but I don’t understand why the bullet is fired by mana if you pull the trigger.
Until now the research of similar items should have been carried out by both countries, but it not being completed might come from the difficulty of the contrivances within.

“The magic contrivance that fires the bullet once the trigger is pulled is unknown.”

If it’s gunpowder, it explodes once ignited, but since it’s an artificial reproduction of a contrivance that transforms magic to fire the bullet with mana that had been stored in the magic gem, it was a complete riddle for me as magician.
This is probably the reason why Duke Nürnberg is cautious of Earl Mizuho Country that resolved this.

“I can fire the bullet at any time now.” (Wilma)

“Just as you have said, Wilma. We will finish them off starting with the commanding officers.” (Wendelin)

I confirmed the figure of the defence commander, who is giving orders on top of the fortress’ wall, with my binoculars.
There are also his aides and commanding officers, but they will be treated as targets as well.

“Let’s weaken their morale by killing their superiors. After all that’s the most efficient method. There won’t be any pointless victims either.”

“Got it.”

When Wilma, who had prepared the magic sniping gun, pulls the trigger, the defence commander, who was reflected in my binoculars, gets vigorously blown away to the rear and collapses.
His aides, who were next to him, tried to save him in a hurry, but considering that Wilma has little experience in sniping, it was accurate.
Watching their superior die after getting hit in the head by a bullet and spurting out blood and grey matter, they were apparently trembling in fear,

“Wilma.” (Wendelin)

“Next.” (Wilma)

Next she picks an adjutant-like person, two commanding officers and a man, who is ordering around the archer unit slightly away, as targets.
All of them were hit in their head or torso and they died instantly or became incapable of fighting.

“The gun barrel is…”

Due to strange circumstances, the magic gun will have its gun barrel heat up after shooting around five shots and won’t be able to fire any further until the barrel cools down.
The Mizuho national army forcefully cools them by sprinkling water on them, but the magic sniping gun that I had given Wilma cooled down swiftly due to a 『Cooling』 spell.
With this there’s also no worry for the gun barrel to become wet.

“Next is the personnel operating the ballistae.”

Wilma continues the shooting and picks the soldiers handling the ballistae on top of the walls next.
At first relief personnel rushes over immediately once one of them gets shot, but realizing that they will be shot if they move there, before long no one approaches the ballistae anymore.
Next the sniping of the archers starts. Once three of them were killed, all of the remaining archers tossed their bows away and escaped from atop the wall.
There was also a soldier stopping them, but since he wasn’t an overly distinguished person, no one listened to him.
That’s because the majority of the important people had already departed from this world.

“Wend-sama, there are no people left to shoot at.” (Wilma)

“Well, it looks like it’s not necessary anymore.”

Having one-sidedly killed their important people from a long distance, there are no stratagems they can accomplish by themselves.
With their morale crushed, several white flags fluttered in the wind on the walls.

“Did they capitulate?”

Like this we were successful in capturing the Talberg Mountain Fortress without a single casualty among our allies.

 

◆◇◆◇◆

 

“This is a success? No, it’s probably a blunder.”

“But, Wend, the fortress fell normally.” (Erwin)

“It’s as Erw-san says. Moreover, the casualties among our allies are zero.” (Haruka)

“Just as mentioned by Haruka-san, zero casualties is wonderful.” (Erwin)

The Talberg Mountain Fortress that had raised white flags, was occupied by the Mizuho national army without any particular disorder.
Their leaders below the commanding officer were defeated albeit by sniping. We succeeded in neutralizing the ballistae and archer unit that would have likely become the main cause for casualties appearing if we carried out a siege battle. And as an extra the Talberg Mountain Fortress had no damages and thus needed no repairs.
Although we had the biggest achievements here, the one who will actually fork out a reward is Therese.
That’s because we are mercenaries that had been employed by Therese.
Since we are accompanied by military officers who record the distinguished war services for the time being, it shouldn’t result in a falsification of the merits of wars and rewards.
The expression of the branch family’s head Toyotsuge Tamura Mizuho-san, who is the younger brother of High Earl Mizuho and who leads the Mizuho national army, is grim, but that doesn’t mean that he’s jealous of my accomplishments.
He’s displeased for another reason.

“We got screwed over.” (Toyotsuge)

“Indeed. The storehouse was empty.”

The privilege to the stuff like the storehouse located in the Talberg Mountain Fortress and the activity funds in the safe that should be located in the main building has been handed over to Mizuho national army, but when Toyotsuge-san had his retainers examine those places, there was apparently almost nothing in them.
Even the storehouse that kept the provisions hadn’t stored anything but the share of one week’s food for the guards.

“Screwed over?”

“That’s right. Is it normal to leave behind food for around a week in the emergency stores of a fortress located in the mountains?”

“However, it was a mountain fortress with no particular bandits or such in the vicinity, right?”

“It seems to be a fortress for the sake of preserving posts, but now it has become a defence base of the rebel army. Usually they would at least carry in some food, no? Besides, ordinarily one won’t supply goods to just scrape along on such a summit. It will just cause expenses after all.”

Erw showed his consent towards Burkhart-san’s conjecture.

“The issue beyond this would be the other bases doing the same.” (Armstrong)

“Uncle-sama, do you mean that it’s a trap to lure us in?” (Elise)

Since there were only casualties of the enemy army after the battle, Elise was together with Doushi as there was no necessity for her to use healing magic.
Even Ina and the others are here since they had nothing in particular to do, but the talk we had started to waste some time is gradually turning grave.

“Were our allies lured in by them deliberately keeping the storage of materials and provisions low and thinning out the defence?” (Ina)

“It’s probably just as you are expecting, Ina.”

We were able to capture it easily, but if we consider the food and materials consumed by our side who had dispatched soldiers on this occasion, we are in the red.
At any rate, we could only secure a little amount of food.
Even so, if we can maintain the city and strongholds we captured, it will balance out, but as it will be necessary to replenish those, it will cost money as well.

“Or rather, we might get surrounded in a state of lacking food before that, right?” (Luise)

As Luise says, since we hurriedly went on the offensive, we don’t possess many provisions.
It was decided to leave that to the supply unit that followed us in a delayed fashion, but we won’t be able to do anything if the rebel army severs our supply line.
Even if we try to protect that supply unit, it might be the end once we get surrounded by the enemy army while in the fortress.
Especially this Talberg Mountain Fortress is a stronghold that is by all rights easy to defend solidly.
That’s because there’s only one route to capture the summit, but if you turn that around, we will lose our way out once that mountain road gets blocked.

“There’s only food for 200 people for a week, and it’s not like we have that much on hand either.” (Wilma)

Wilma doesn’t state anything but the truth.
But in reverse you could say that the situation got severe.
There was a bad premonition popping up in my mind, but it immediately turned into reality.

“Wendelin-san!” (Katharina)

Katharina, who was on watch on top of the wall, rushed our way in a great hurry.

“It seems that we have been surrounded by the rebel army.” (Katharina)

“As expected, eh…”

As if estimating the time when we would capture the Talberg Mountain Fortress, Katharina reports that a great number of rebel soldiers had appeared on the mountain road in front of the main gate.

“In other words, we lost our way out.”

The numbers of the rebel army should be higher than those of our allies, but they most likely won’t come attacking unreasonably.
That’s because they are expecting us to have no leeway in our food situation.
If they wait while only blocking the mountain road, our side will exhaust its food reserves in around a week.
Even if Therese tries to send supplies, those are bound to not arrive either.

“With us, who are stuck in the Talberg Mountain Fortress, as extreme example, it’s inevitable for our allies, who headed to the other capture targets, to lose, isn’t it?”

It’s possible that the other fortress capture units are experiencing the same situation as us. The Halbart capture group around young Duke Baden might have been surrounded by a simply superior rebel army.
It seems possible that the even the previous crushing victory will come to nothing with this time’s defeat.

“That damned Therese. She couldn’t reign in that young Duke Baden.”

He had done something foolish, but it would be unfavourable if young Duke Baden and his followers get killed just like that.
However, currently we have to do our best about our own troubles.

“We will discuss the response with Toyotsuge-dono. However, it will be awkward, I guess.”

On top of not knowing the numbers of the rebel army outside, there’s the danger of increasing the casualties all the more if we move unskilfully.
We hurry to Toyotsuge-dono’s location.
It’s in order to procure just the slightest information about the enemy army besieging us.

 


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