In the end we were successful in safely returning to the field encampment located in the Great Sorbid Wasteland.
We had expected to get pursued by the rebel army after they became hot blooded due to their victories, but they wisely chose to not to.
If they had, they would have fallen prey to wide area advanced magic by Burkhart-san and me though.
The mixed rebel army unit that tried to keep us locked up in the Talberg Mountain Fortress is likely in a state of annihilation. The other military forces might have hurried to defend the fortresses and cities they recaptured.
Therese also left troops behind as a restraint. We came back to the headquarters while nodding off atop our horses.
“If one considers the losses, there are many points to think about, but I guess we are still better off than the others.”
We were greeted by the retainers of the Duke Philip household and High Earl Mizuho in front of the headquarters’ entrance.
High Earl Mizuho’s remark is likely a sarcastic stab towards the retainers of the Duke Philip household who are next to him.
He has deliberately said it so that it will reach Therese’s ears through them.
“… (The atmosphere is bad, isn’t it…?)”
A tense air is hanging between the retainers of the Duke Philip household and High Earl Mizuho who is likely boiling with anger inside.
I’m sure there are various things he wants to say as more than 20% of the troops he dispatched were killed in action.
“That stupid brat survived. What a bother…”
Then High Earl Mizuho drops a bombshell.
The one whom High Earl Mizuho means with 『stupid brat』 is young Duke Baden.
Although he had captured the commercial city Halbart for a while, he immediately got besieged by new enemy forces. Moreover, as there wasn’t sufficient food in the captured Halbart and as they couldn’t plunder any from the inhabitants just because of lacking food, they had to run away. During the escape they suffered from persistent pursuits.
It looks like they were rescued by reinforcements led by Therese and High Earl Mizuho on the way, but having lost 30% of the whole army, it was an utter defeat.
“That little bastard acts arrogant despite coming back after getting his ass wiped.”
The reason for him acting all self-important is easy. If he bows his head in front of Therese and High Earl Mizuho here, it will affect the reputation of the Duke Baden household.
Even if the person himself wants to apologize, his retainers will be against that.
I see. With Therese and the others having begun a struggle for supremacy behind closed doors and the rebel army under Duke Nürnberg, who is trying to crush us by using the military forces of stupid nobles, the proverb that a war is won by the side that makes less mistakes proves to be true, I guess.
It’s said that there are also situations where you end up losing after making a mistake or getting held back by others for reasons other than one own’s ability.
Good grief, all of this is really educational, I have to say, but it still resulted in us having taken the mountain fortress for some reason.
“It looks like they are having an emergency meeting, Earl Baumeister.”
“Do I have the qualifications to join that?” (Wendelin)
“I think that it’s already past the time to talk about such formalities.”
“Therese-sama’s intention are as plain as day. To an extent that it’s very easy to understand.”
“Now, now, don’t say that, Earl Baumeister.”
When I headed towards the building with the headquarters that was specified as meeting venue together with High Earl Mizuho, Therese awaited us at the entrance.
“Ooh! Thou achieved big military gains, didn’t thou, Wendelin!” (Therese)
In the end we retreated after we captured Talberg Mountain Fortress once, but even going by a little estimate, we have killed close to half the enemy army that fought us.
There are also many nobles and magicians confirmed to have been killed in action. Compared to the other groups, it’s a huge military achievement.
“Why yes, thank you…”
However, my disappointed expression didn’t fall apart from that.
With the plan being reckless to begin with, there was the possibility of us having no other option but to surrender or get destroyed, if Alfons’ reinforcements didn’t come.
No matter how many siege forces we are able to repel, there would be nothing more that we could do once our food ran out while being surrounded.
Even if we took a gamble and attempted to escape while independently crushing the enemy army, it was probable for us to get annihilated if we failed at that.
It was quite likely that there would have been victims even among us if we went unskillfully about it.
Therese came requesting a handshake with me, but ignoring that on purpose, I hug Elise’s and Katharina’s shoulders and enter the building.
“Wait a moment! Wendelin-san!” (Katharina)
Going by appearance, I couldn’t be regarded as anything but a hopeless, lustful noble, but it’s also a provocation meaning 『Sorry, but both my hands are full』.
Elise doesn’t say anything as she apparently realized it, but Katharina was surprised and raised her voice apparently believing my action to be indiscreet.
“I think the meeting is more important for now, but is there something wrong?”
A retainer that was attached to Therese curses at my rude conduct, but I forcefully face him down with my public position.
Even the other party threatens me rudely using the excuse that I’m a noble of a foreign country. Thus we are of equal status in that regard, I think.
Although it’s called a great military achievement, there’s also the side of the Mizuho army that had many losses while fighting together with us.
I didn’t feel like obediently accepting her handshake.
Besides, it won’t result in any decent outcome even if I receive preferential treatment in the current situation.
“Therese-sama, originally we are mercenaries.” (Burkhart)
“Just the appearance of the Royal Head Magician at a council of war of a foreign country actually leads to various problems.” (Armstrong)
No matter how lenient Burkhart-san and Doushi are towards Therese, they didn’t forget to give her a short warning.
“First comes the meeting, Therese-sama.”
“Got it. Let’s start then?” (Therese)
Even if it’s called a meeting, it’s close to a court-martial in reality.
Once I entered the building, the nobles inside plainly showed their hate on their faces.
No matter how many military gains we might obtain, in the end we are still outsiders.
Even so, we are a related party to the defeat this time.
If requested by Therese, I intended to tell them my view.
“Well then, should we try starting the meeting then?”
First Alfons, with a rare serious expression that doesn’t break apart, reports the changes in the war situation, our losses, and the enemy army’s losses, though those are only an estimate.
Young Duke Baden’s group lost in total 5367 soldiers without decently damaging the enemy army.
It’s been more than 30% in the battle to capture Halbart and in the retreat battles after that. There are also more than 2000 casualties from the military forces of the nobles who went out to capture other cities and fortresses.
The sole salvation might be that the losses on the side of the rebel army were large when they were appropriately attacked by the reinforcements of Therese.
Going by estimation, around 9000 soldiers were killed.
However, among those, 5000 enemy soldiers were the result of our and the Mizuho army’s military achievements.
Once they have been informed about our and the Mizuho army’s military gains, around one third of the nobles became openly hostile.
From their point of view it’s disagreeable for the Earl Mizuho Country that’s treated as a foreign country to take up an important position in the empire after the war due to having played an active role during the civil war.
As for young Duke Baden who’s the one responsible for the defeat; he’s expressionless just like a noh mask.
It’s a fact that he caused a debacle, but he likely detests Therese having stolen the liberation army’s leadership with that as the reason.
Furthermore, as for the liberation army; it apparently reached the point of being called like that since Therese’s and allies armed forces hasn’t been a popular name.
Naming the enemy as a rebel army was written down in official documents that were prepared formally.
“(Everyone’s quiet, aren’t they…)”
With the sequence of events being as they were mentioned above, everyone stayed silent while attending the meeting.
Therese wants to carry out a centralization of the liberation army’s command and charge young Duke Baden with the responsibility for the defeat, but as she will be troubled if he betrays the liberation army after getting blamed too much, she’s hesitating about how to find a new approach.
Young Duke Baden doesn’t want to throw away the aspiration of seizing the initiative once again by taking a bit of the responsibility upon himself.
The nobles are either supporting one side or are troubled which side they should support.
It was my first attendance in a war council during the war, but I didn’t think that it would be this tedious.
Maybe the internal affairs are similar in the rebel army as well.
While I was fed up, Doushi and Burkhart-san, who are attending the meeting as well, drunk maté tea and ate the cookies which they had put into a magic bag after Elise had baked them before.
They craved for sweets since they are worn-out and have empty stomachs after just returning to headquarters.
“Doushi, nothing is getting settled.”
“In the first place, it’s a meeting that doesn’t require us, who are treated as mercenaries, to attend.” (Armstrong)
“Doushi, it’s the end if you say that, right?” (Burkhart)
“But, it’s a fact, isn’t it, Burkhart-dono?” (Armstrong)
As there’s no way for him to drink alcohol here, Burkhart-san drinks tea while crunching on rice crackers he bought in Earl Mizuho Country.
It looks like he was happier with rice crackers than sweet cookies. As I had seen him buying a huge amount, he likely still has some left on stock.
“(Wend, Burkhart-san is an old man.)”
“(I can hear you, Erwin)”
Looking at Burkhart-san slurping his tea while eating rice crackers, Erw pointed that out to me in a whisper, but with Burkhart having heard that, Erw apologized earnestly.
It’s a mood that makes it seem as if we aren’t attending a meeting at all, but as no one, including Therese, says anything, it’s actually eerie.
“Wend, I want to eat a mango.” (Ina)
Once I take out a mango we picked up in the Demon Forest from my magic bag and pass it to Ina, she immediately cuts it into little pieces that are easy to eat, piles those pieces up on a plate and places that plate on the table.
“My stomach is empty.”
“As it’s a meeting, I wanted to postpone eating.”
“You might end up falling asleep with your stomach full.”
It might be as Luise says, however that’s still better than taking part in a meeting that bears no fruits like this one.
Therese’s group, the leading group of the meeting, remains silent while exchanging glances.
As we are treated as mercenaries, our position is low. At any rate, we enjoyed tea and snacks without minding the surrounding gazes as we are probably not too conspicuous.
Since we couldn’t eat much food during the retreat, we had become hungry.
“I want to eat a full serving of meat.”
“That’s true, I guess. You played a major role in the battle after all, Wilma. It would be great if the meeting could end swiftly so that we would be able to have a proper meal.”
Wilma obtained great military achievements by killing many commanders and soldiers with the prototype magic sniper rifle.
Rather than wasting time with such a pointless meeting, I’d like to have a meal swiftly.
“Good work, you did well.”
“That feels nice.”
When I gently stroke Wilma’s head while praising her, she closed her eyes and became entranced.
“Sorry. I forgot you, Katharina.” (Wendelin)
Being an excelling magician, she flourished greatly by freely and mostly independently using magic.
If this was a civil war in the kingdom, it would definitely result in an increase in territory and a rise in peerage.
“I don’t have any particular need to have my head stroked…” (Katharina)
“Do you hate it?” (Wendelin)
“Umm… If the one doing it is you, Wendelin-san…” (Katharina)
“As I want to do it, bring your head closer.” (Wendelin)
“I guess I have no other choice then.” (Katharina)
Even while saying something like that, Katharina closed her eyes apparently not being against it when her head was actually caressed by me.
Since she’s a shy person, it won’t happen unless I don’t tell her myself.
Having said that, it’s a joke, but as the meeting really isn’t making any progress, I’m simply provoking them by deliberately acting like that.
I expected for there to be nobles causing a fuss by saying stuff like 『How indiscreet!』, but they are silent after sending a look our way for just an instant.
“Ah, right. There’s something I’d like to ask of you, Elise.” (Wendelin)
“Okay. What is it?” (Elise)
“Feed me.” (Wendelin)
“Understood. Dear, please open your mouth and say A~~~h.” (Elise)
“For a body worn-out from battle, fruits are the best.”
“Elise, you too. Here. A~~~h.” (Wendelin)
I continue my provocation even further, but it looks like Elise realized my intention.
She fed some of the cut mango to me.
She also knows that no matter how many great military achievements we obtained in the recent battle, those haven’t contributed in any way to the war situation.
She cooperated with the provocation that was filled with my protest.
“I will feed you as well, Wend. Here. A~~~h.” (Luise)
“Me too. Here. A~~~h.”
With Luise and Ina participating as well, the room, where the meeting is held, got enveloped by a strange atmosphere.
The nobles who don’t say anything while wearing discouraged expressions, Therese who can’t grasp a clue how to breach the topic, we who are feeding each other fruits and sweets with six people, Doushi who is eating a lot of sweets and fruits while drinking maté tea, and Burkhart-san who’s quietly slurping his maté tea.
Only time is passing, but finally a single noble starts to blame us as if a dam has broken.
It looks like he couldn’t put up with it any longer at last.
“What are you, the likes of mercenaries, doing at such a meeting?!”
Going by my conjecture the middle-aged, fat noble that donned an attire with flashy ornaments, which were of bad taste, is probably around the rank of an Earl?
For a noble it’s probably troublesome if they don’t readily remember foreign nobles of which there are plenty, but it might not be that much of a problem in this case.
That’s because we are mercenaries after all.
“If you ask what we are doing; it’s a light meal before dinner as we withdrew in a situation where we couldn’t eat and drink much.”
“Do such stuff after the meeting! Just what the hell do you bastards think of a meeting of the authorities?”
“Authorities, you say? At this meeting where no one is talking at all?”
Due to me pointing it out, everyone showed bitter expressions on their faces.
Because of the defeat, it’s necessary to hold a meeting to reprimand and punish the people responsible and to learn a lesson from those battles, but no one wanted to be punished. No one said anything as they were afraid of young Duke Baden being removed from the race for the next emperor if he’s made to take responsibility for this time’s defeat.
Even Therese hesitated to make any kind of announcement as she was thinking that it would alienate young Duke Baden if she punishes him unskillfully.
That how things probably stand.
However, while that may be true, there’s no meaning in having held a meeting if she stays silent without declaring anything.
“I feel like we won tactically at parts, but since it was strategically a crushing defeat, you have to quickly reflect on it and move on to the next plan, don’t you?”
“The losses on the rebel army’s side are huge…”
“Those are losses Duke Nürnberg has taken into consideration.”
What I understood in these two battles is that Duke Nürnberg hasn’t dispatched much of the military forces of the nobles and imperial army, which sympathize with him, and neither did he send the elites of his own feudal army whom he can trust the most.
Something like the troops that besieged the Talberg Mountain Fortress were obviously intended to be crushed. Although their noble heads are idiots, he can’t make light of their military and economic strength.
Even though the reinforcements that were sent out by Therese obtained results beyond expectations, those troops were as weak as being below second rate despite having large numbers.
“They are weak, but if you fight them, our allies will definitely incur losses. Once those losses accumulate, Duke Nürnberg will go for a decisive battle with his trustable military forces that are still fresh while our side will be in a state of exhaustion.”
To begin with, the rebel army that’s holding the south and centre is predominant.
As for the ability to mobilize military strength, the other side was superior.
“That’s the biggest reason why Duke Nürnberg hasn’t come out until now. He has been dispatching soldiers while calmly calculating the difference in military strength between our side and his own.”
“However, for us high class nobles to be deceived by Duke Nürnberg’s schemes that easily…”
“It has been you gentlemen who chose to go along with it, right?”
Just because they are nobles, it doesn’t mean that all of them are excellent.
Even I have seen excellent nobles and those that aren’t until now.
Because their education environment is better than those of commoners, the ratio of knowledgeable people is probably higher.
However, there are also many people, who only possess knowledge but don’t know how to apply it, and those who are egoistic and arrogant due to their birthplace. They caused many victims by heading into battle while only defending themselves with a 『Magic Barrier』.
Unexpectedly the nature of people other than nobles might not be that different either.
“They thought that it would be bad to not attach themselves to the rebel army out of geographical reasons and such. Beyond having joined up with the rebel army, they want to increase their influence and territory by raising military achievements. As a result we are losing our military forces by joining in on the battles as their numbers are big.”
There’s no loss for Duke Nürnberg due to their defeat.
He can charge them with the responsibility of having lost. This time he won’t punish them since they recaptured the military locations, but they uselessly wasted their military forces.
Something like losing a huge number of troops in the current situation is similar to lending a helping hand to Duke Nürnberg’s power as dictator.
They will be crushed if they go against him. In reality he might have already made a move on the noble households that lost their family heads in action.
By placing a person that follows his own intentions as successor, Duke Nürnberg will put them under his control.
“Given that Duke Nürnberg is aiming for an unified, beautiful empire, he won’t hesitate to remove nobles that will become a hindrance to that.”
Although he allows even foolish nobles to survive as long as they are obedient towards him, he will immediately get rid of them by having them intentionally clash with our side if they prove to be even slightly defiant.
The smart nobles should either calmly assist in his hegemony or keep a mostly neutral stance as they still don’t know which side will win.
They are likely waiting and watching the situation without opposing Duke Nürnberg.
From Duke Nürnberg’s point of view, that’s satisfactory.
If our side loses, they will truly obey Duke Nürnberg as they are no fools.
Raising the peerage and gaining territory by taking a gamble is fine. And reliably protecting one’s territory and peerage is fine as well.
Either of those options is correct for a noble.
“So, what are you telling us to do?”
“Nothing in particular, or rather, I don’t have the right to state my opinion.”
As mercenary I don’t have the qualification to state my opinion in this meeting.
Stating it as perfect public stance, I confuse the noble who blamed me.
The other participants had expressions as if they were crestfallen for an instant.
“Didn’t you say whatever you want until just now though?”
“This was tit for tat.”
Due to my remark, Burkhart-san, who sat in the seat next to me, had to strain himself to not burst into laughter.
“You are participating in the meeting. Thus you are qualified to state your opinion!”
It seems that from the beginning this noble wanted to hear my opinion in this stagnated meeting one way or the other.
Though I have a problem with him relying on an outsider.
“It has turned out like this because you attacked even though there’s a difference in military strength. We have no other choice but to wait for Duke Nürnberg to raise his entire army and come attack us after he finished his preparations and secured his back.” (Wendelin)
We will cut through and make the rebel army collapse, to win in the end while protecting this field encampment.
If we win overwhelmingly, it is possible that it would fall apart in one go since it’s a coup d’etat administration to begin with.
“Splitting up imprudently even though our numbers are lacking will result in us being taken advantage of once we try to increase the area under our control.”
These are no war chronicles either. A small number of dispatched allies shouldn’t be able to defeat a big number of enemies.
If one goes according to common knowledge, the side with the lower numbers will lose a war.
Tactics and intelligence gathering is for the sake of compensating for that, but seeing that communication magic has been blocked, the rebel army, that will be lying in wait, likely has the advantage.
There’s also the matter of geographical advantage since it would be the rebel army that gets attacked.
“There’s no need for complicated theories and strategies. It will be fine if you settle the command of the supreme commander of the liberation army on one person, and defeat Duke Nürnberg who will close in with his entire army. First you have to devote yourselves to not losing. If you lose, it will spell the ruin of your households and families.”
Duke Nürnberg won’t forgive the nobles who belonged to the liberation army.
He might pardon a part of the nobles that aimed for the downfall by betrayal, but I believe that he will at least utterly destroy the two prince-elector households and Earl Mizuho Country.
We can run away in the worst case, but for them, who are responsible for their own territories, escape is not an option.
Due to the harsh reality, the faces of the nobles gradually turn pale.
In other words, they can’t lose anymore.
“For that reason a diversion of of our forces like this time and the vague state of command will be bad.”
“Certainly, I suppose it is as you say, Earl Baumeister.”
Quarrelling over the command although our numbers are inferior, they lost military strength in a meaningless offensive.
If they don’t improve on this, the liberation army is on a straight line towards defeat, I believe.
“Also, as for the recent defeat, the responsibility lies with the supreme commander.”
The nobles alternatively look at Therese and young Duke Baden.
No matter how one may think about it, the supreme commander is Therese, but there are also not few nobles who expect young Duke Baden to be the supreme commander since she’s a woman.
That’s why it has developed into this situation.
“Therese-sama, I’d like you to act in order that such things don’t happen from now on.”
Many nobles are surprised due to my statement. There was also one person who froze among them.
Though being treated as mercenary, I, who is a high-ranking nobles albeit from a foreign country and someone that has achieved various meritorious deeds in the past two battles, have named Therese as supreme commander.
Due to this fact, there were even some nobles, that are supporting young Duke Baden, who rebuked me.
“We don’t have any time to waste. There is no law in the empire that forbids an empress, right? Since it’s currently a critical time in the civil war, such things will happen as well. Indeed. Because it’s a rebellion, it can’t be helped.”
“It can’t be helped because it’s a rebellion…”
“That’s how it is.”
A stable country and governmental structures hate unprecedented situations.
If it’s Japan, the same is true for bureaucrats and such, but there will be those who will agree with it unexpectedly if there’s the reason of it being an emergency.
“Young Duke Baden-dono.”
“What is it?”
“This time you were unlucky, I guess.”
“No, Duke Nürnberg predicted my own desires…”
“In that case there’s something you have to definitely follow up on after the defeat.”
“Follow up on?”
“Yes. It’s about the noble households that were killed in the recent defeat.”
Since they lost their family heads, he has to follow up on them so that they swiftly decide on a successor.
“If we are negligent on doing that, there’s the possibility of them getting deceived by Duke Nürnberg’s schemes out of anxiety.”
If rebellions are caused in our rear, it will unnecessarily waste time and labour to suppress them. It’s also possible that our supply lines will get cut off.
“Therese-sama, after you impose a penalty on young Duke Baden, you should make sure that he follows up on that part, I think.”
“It’s as you say, Earl Baumeister.”
“Although it’s regrettable this time, it’s very likely that young Duke Baden’s child or grandchild will become the next emperor after Therese-sama.”
It will be difficult to continue with the precedents and pass on the imperial throne to Therese’s child. If she forces that, it will trigger troubles.
Therese herself doesn’t wish that either, I think.
“However, will it work out that smoothly?”
“The probability is high. That’s because the other five prince-elector households won’t take part in the emperor selection for a while. Even if they ran for the election, it would be suspicious.”
Depending on the outcome of the civil war, it was possible that ruined households and risen peerages will be removed from the prince-elector households.
“What about Earl Mizuho Country?”
“It will probably be necessary to have them become a prince-elector household in order to stabilize the empire’s reign, but I wonder, will the family head of the Mizuho household really run for the election of the next emperor?”
“No. I’d like to receive the rewards I can get and a position for the continuous existence of the Mizuho household, but I’d like to be pardoned from something like becoming emperor.”
High Earl Mizuho clearly declares that he has no interest in the seat of emperor.
Although one can’t say that it’s an absolute rule, it will likely remain a fact for a while.
He will also obtain a seat in the parliament and become a prince-elector that can’t run in the emperor election.
By showing an attitude that they will participate in the politics of the empire and not only remain a half-baked independent country, the wariness of the other nobles will fade as well.
“How about going at it with such agenda, Therese-sama?”
“Very well, let’s go along with thy suggestion, Earl Baumeister.”
There is meaning in what I, an outsider, have said in a manner similar to deliberately stepping into a minefield.
With that Therese’s intention simply shifted according to my words.
Of course, since we had no time to prepare in advance, all of it was my own wilful design though.
“However, Therese-sama, several prince-elector households will diminish after the war, won’t they?”
“It’s said that the family heads have been taken hostage, but it seems like no one has seen them. I won’t be surprised even if they were killed.”
“For the sake of a stable rule of the empire it will be necessary to have at least the same number, no?”
“I guess so.”
The facial expressions of the nobles change due to Therese’s reply.
Especially the Earls and Margraves understood that it will be possible for them to become prince-electors depending on their performance from now on.
The prince-elector households are relatives of the imperial family because they are Duke households, but as a matter of fact, with the policy of marrying between fellow noble households of the empire for many years, there are countless noble households that have descended from an emperor’s household.
Besides, since the current prince-elector households are participating in the rebel army, it’s also possible to crush them or take them over depending on the circumstances.
That means there are plenty of possibilities to succeed their place.
“(Please do your best and dream as you please.)”
With it being a question of possibility to the bitter end, they definitely haven’t been told that they will be able to become prince-electors.
In short, it’s fine if Therese’s authority has been recognised and if they become military assets in the decisive battle to come.
“Proceed with the reorganization and assembling of our allies’ military forces. We have no other choice but to wait and destroy the soldiers sent by Duke Nürnberg.”
“But, will they come our way that conveniently?”
“They will come without fail. Duke Nürnberg has to destroy us in order to establish his own hegemony. With the empire divided, his conquest of Helmut Kingdom that might take place in the future won’t come true.” (Therese)
Therese confidently answers the question of the noble. With this the liberation army’s command has been finally consolidated and the strategic objectives have decreased to only one.
“Wend-sama, the meat got grilled.” (Wilma)
“What kind of flavour of dipping sauce should I put on it?”
“Wilma, your choice is harsh, you know.”
Since the meeting finished at last, we were holding a barbecue in the garden of our house inside the encampment.
It was a barbecue in the still wintry wastelands and not at the sea of eternal summer, but it’s not like we are doing it for leisure. It’s merely for the sake of shortening the cooking time and to reduce the burden on Elise. Anyway, it’s because we wanted to eat meat.
Since there is a huge amount of monster meat that was matured with magic, we are grilling it on a charcoal fire and have cut vegetables as supplemental.
When I eat meat after applying a dip on it once it got grilled on top of the wire mesh, I can even forget this gruesome war.
“Meat after a battle…?”
Even while saying that, Erw, who apparently became hungry, ate plenty of meat.
It’s not like corpses and meat are connected either. My senses in this regard have probably numbed down after having seen far too many casualties.
It’s cruel, but after all those were strangers whose faces I don’t even know.
There’s no point even if I worry about it.
“(I guess there are also parts I won’t be able to do if I don’t consider it like that.)”
Anyway, the destruction of that device operated by Duke Nürnberg is the top priority.
If we don’t do something about that, the various handicaps will be too big.
“Dear, was that alright with you?” (Elise)
“I guess it was inevitable.”
While eating the grilled meat together, Elise asks me about my actions at the meeting.
Originally opening my mouth there was unreasonable, but it’s impossible for us to obey Duke Nürnberg.
At any rate, it will get bad if we don’t have Therese win the war.
“I stayed silent out of fear, but Wend ended up saying it.” (Erwin)
“It’s fine, isn’t it? We have rendered distinguished services after all.”
From Erw’s point of view it likely didn’t look like anything but me doing whatever I like at the meeting.
Since we have obtained the meritorious deed of having killed many enemy soldiers by using tactics, it wouldn’t get too bad as long as we could escape from getting punished imprudently.
Since Therese should be aware of my goals, I haven’t taken that possibility into consideration, but she smoothly used my remarks.
“Putting that aside, how was the orichalcum katana?”
“It has an amazing sharpness.”
It seems that there’s almost no difference in sharpness in regards to its cutting ability.
However, even if I add the three sets I had Kanesada forge, there only exist around 20 sets on the whole world.
Even if he finishes the remaining two sets, it will be only 22 sets. Among those 17 sets are owned by Mizuho people.
With them being that precious, those were katana anyone desired.
“How about Haruka and Takeomi-san?”
“It’s very sharp.”
“It’s regrettable that it’s a borrowed item.”
While the elder brother and younger sister ate meat together with us, they talked about the magnificence of the orichalcum katana with me.
With them using many technical terms, everyone ended up pulling back a bit since both of them are terrible katana lovers.
The only one enthusiastically listening to them is Erw, I guess.
“I will continue lending them to you during the time you are working as my guards.”
“I will act in a way to not put shame on the katana.”
There’s no meaning if a greenhorn like me uses them anyway.
Since there’s the orichalcum sword I received from Erw in exchange, that will be plenty, I think.
“By the way, why is our lord here?”
“It looks like he wants to eat meat.”
High Earl Mizuho, Burkhart-san and Doushi drank large quantities of booze while eating meat.
Everyone has high positions in society, but going by their appearance, I can’t regard them as anything but old men who are grumbling over their mugs in a bar.
“The alcohol made in Helmut Kingdom is delicious! It matches well with meat!”
“There’s also rare 30 years old wine.”
“Burkhart-san, please pour some of that in my cup as well.”
“Should I take out my priced brandy here?” (Armstrong)
“Fufufufu, look here! I brought the top-quality sake 『Drop of the Full Moon』.”
“Ooh! That sounds like an amazing name!” (Armstrong)
“It’s a Mizuho sake I rarely get my hands on.”
“By all means, pour me some as well.” (Armstrong)
The spectacle of the three that were beyond middle-age in years drinking alcohol was just like a party of office workers.
“The battle at the Talberg Mountain Fortress was terrible.”
“No, High Earl Mizuho, you didn’t go to the Talberg Mountain, did you?”
“Now that you mention it, that’s right…”
Even so, since he took command of another reinforcement, Haruka’s opinion isn’t that wrong either.
Believing that it will be rude to our comrades in arms if we don’t give anything to them, I pass expensive wine and brandy to Toyotsugu-san.
Passing wine and rum to the soldiers as well, I gave a bit of money to express my sympathy for those killed in action.
If it wasn’t for them, it might have been us that were killed in action.
“Lord came to give his thanks, right?”
“Haruka-san, it would be best if you don’t mind the drinking bout over there.”
As Erw says, something like caring about a drinking bout of old drunkards is pointless.
They look like nothing more but three old men that are simply drinking alcohol, but Toyotsugu-san was deeply moved due to me handing out money to express my sympathy and told High Earl Mizuho,
『Even though Earl Baumeister-sama is young, it’s splendid of him to show consideration. As thanks I will give him my daughter.』
It seems that’s what he said, but as expected, High Earl Mizuho refused that with all his might.
His true reasoning is that he wants to assess the situation through the relationship between Erw and Haruka.
『It seems like Therese-dono is interested in Earl Baumeister, but there are many nobles who are annoying due to that matter. If you proposed your daughter as a marriage partner for Earl Baumeister, there will certainly be those that pop up, who will talk about the possibility of a pincer attack of Helmut Kingdom and Earl Mizuho Country against the empire.』
In order to not inspire such wariness, High Earl Mizuho believes it to be plenty if he watches the promotion of trade and the marriage between Erw and Haruka.
“However, it has many difficulties in store.”
I have to completely destroy the jamming device operated by Duke Nürnberg for my own sake.
For that reason I’m cooperating with Therese as it’s indispensable for the liberation army to win, but the internal affairs of the liberation army are a mess.
Although it might be a good match for the rebel army, it’s possible that the voices in favour of a troops dispatch will increase in the Helmut Kingdom if both sides continue the civil war for too long.
Even if they won and obtained occupied territory, the kingdom will be exhausted as well if they fail in the rule of that occupied territory.
The ones who will be happy will likely be the nobles that secured themselves some territory?
If they fail in governing it, they will end up crying afterwards though.
“We have to have Therese-sama do her best.”
To the bitter end it was for my own sake, but it’s also my true feelings that I don’t want to see the picture of a young woman getting killed after losing in a civil war.
“Wendelin, I’m sorry for various things today.”
Once I ponder about Therese’s situation, I suddenly could hear her voice and my face got wrapped up in a soft sensation.
The voice of Elise, who is next to me, is cold, and the reason for that gradually became clear.
Wearing a thin silken dress, Therese pushed her breasts into my face.
“(Ah~~~. How soft… Not!)”
“Dear, do you feel that comfortable?”
For an instant I was enthralled by that pleasant sensation, but I snap out of it due to Elise’s chilling voice.
Elise was slightly scary, but I tried to answer boldly while showing my dignity? here.
“Therese-sama, I believe that to be improper…”
“I’m happy that Wendelin went that far and spoke up for my sake at the meeting.”
“It’s not particularly only for your sake, Therese-sama. I’m not that belligerent…”
I recall saying what I wanted to say, but it shouldn’t have gone as far as picking a fight.
Besides, those were things I merely stated for my own sake.
“Thou don’t have to be shy about it. As reward, thou may as well enjoy my breasts to thy heart’s content.”
Therese, who has more tension than usual, purposely ground herself against me while pushing her breasts into my face.
Each time she moves, the soft sensation of her boobs assails my face. I’m assaulted by a feeling that makes my sanity fly away.
“That group despises me with the excuse of me being a woman. Thee remarks were very helpful.”
“Though I’m not a noble of the empire…”
“As high-ranking noble in Helmut Kingdom, thou have distinguished military deeds of being undefeated.”
The subjugation of two dragons, the dispute with the Margrave Browig household, the escape from the imperial capital while taking Therese along, the first battle at the field encampment and lastly this time’s military accomplishments at the Talberg Mountain Fortress.
No matter which country, a noble that has distinguished military services will be respected everywhere.
That tendency is all the stronger because of the long period without wars. Even the reason for young Duke Baden to hurry was because he wanted to get an advantageous position in the election of the next emperor by obtaining deeds of arms.
Since the majority of the voters at the emperor election are nobles, distinguished military services will greatly contribute to the acquisition of votes.
“Even thou are still young, thou have stated thee opinion fair and square and recognised mine own authority as supreme commander, Wendelin. Thanks to thou plainly speaking of the dangerous situation of the liberation army, the eagerness of those guys cooled down as well, I think. It’s mine own thanks for my command having become easy. It’s fine for thee to fully enjoy my breasts. They won’t diminish by thee doing that either. Hence, enjoy them without holding back. After that, thou can freely…”
“Please quit it already!”
However, this situation continuing is not really amusing for Elise.
She forcefully tears apart Therese and me, and then pushed her own breasts into my face.
“Elise’s are slightly flexible, I guess.”
“Wendelin, although she can match me in size, something like Elise’s firm breasts is no fun, right?”
“They are better than yours which are sagging, Therese-sama.”
“This is odd. My breasts are still not sagging. If thou want to see the proof for that, I don’t mind freely showing them, as long as it’s to thee, Wendelin.”
“There’s no need for that!”
Elise and Therese continue to glare at each other while intense sparks fly between their two big mounds, or rather huge breasts.
“So, what did you come here for, Therese-sama? Certainly you don’t mean to say that it’s for the sake of pressing your breasts onto our husband?”
Without a moment’s delay, Ina hurled a question loaded with sarcasm at Therese.
It seems that she’s also enraged about Therese’s conduct.
“My breasts are an advance payment of the reward. There’s a reward for Wendelin for this time’s case.”
Basically the reward for us has become a piecework payment.
Since the reward will increase the more active we are, it has already become quite the sum of money due to the distinguished war services and the construction of the field encampment.
It has been decided that it will be paid in one swoop after the war, but since the full sum will probably become vast, she is also hinting at the possibility that it will be paid in instalments.
Originally that’s not good as she’s creating debts towards me, but as it seems that the damage to the empire will be big due to the civil war, it means that she will pay in instalments while adding an interest to it.
It would be a hard fight if we weren’t here, but if we are, the reward will be costly.
As she will be exposed to a great disgrace if she refuses to pay up, Therese should be quite troubled in regards to the calculation of money.
She might intend to somehow lower the reward with her breast attack against me.
“I will give thou something that can be paid in advance. An honorary peerage.”
“An honorary peerage? Like Katharina?”
“It’s something close to that.”
According to Therese’s explanation, there are many cases where those, who obtained achievements in the empire, are appointed to a honorary peerage for life.
“Originally I wanted to appoint an official peerage to thee.”
“I won’t accept that.”
“I guessed so.”
If it’s an official peerage, it will end up creating the problem of 『Who will be the one to succeed it?』
As long as it’s a honorary peerage for life, it won’t be any kind of problem since it will vanish once I die.
No, that’s not entirely true, but in the current situation we can’t confirm it with His Majesty either.
I feel like there will be problems in appointing an honorary peerage to a noble of a foreign country, but refusing that kind of reward will be next to rude.
In the current situation, I probably have no other choice but to accept it.
“In reality I want to appoint one to Doushi and Burkhart as well, but if I do too much, that will also increase the problems. Wendelin, if thou are treated as noble in the empire, thou will be able to state thy opinion in military operations from now on, too.”
It will result in me not being recruited for something like the Talberg Mountain Fortress capture in a situation where it’s unknown what for, like the other day.
If I consider it now, the position of a mercenary is truly an insecure one.
There’s the possibility of being treated as disposable tools against those who are hostile. I would have no other choice but to accept it.
Then again, if I consider that’s she’s attacking with sex appeal, it’s a truly detestable weak point she’s going for.
“We will perform the official conferring of decorations tomorrow, but thou will be given the court rank of an honorary Earl. Since thou will receive an annuity until thou die, I don’t think that there’s any harm in accepting it.”
“Good grief… You put me in a situation where I have to accept it…”
“It’s because I’m compelled to act like this as Duchess Philip. But, it’s the truth that I like thee as a man, Wendelin. Absolutely never doubt that.”
The story from Therese ended at that point.
Afterwards, as if imaginable from her outfit, she intends to participate in the barbecue party that has been organized by us.
She immediately received a sake cup and a plate with meat on it from Haruka.
“This kind of informal eating is fun.”
Therese sits down in the seat on the opposite side of Elise and drinks some wine.
Ebbo, who is guarding her from behind, scowled to a degree that no one understood.
To begin with, Therese was the most important person for that guy and he hates me.
Therese bestowed the honour of her coming to my private party, told me about the conferring of decorations herself and in addition pressed her breasts into me by hugging.
If we were mutual enemies, he would doubtlessly come aiming for my head.
However, if he aimed for that in the current situation, far from only falling into disgrace, Therese would become a target for punishment.
Because he’s not that much of an idiot, he assigned himself to work as faithful retainer of Therese.
In his heart he’s probably fuming with rage though.
“(I guess Ebbo ignores me by thinking of me as air.) Is it all right for you to appear at such place?”
“I have entrusted quite a bit of my work to Alfons after all.”
“That is, my condolences…”
Accordingly, I expect Alfons to not be here.
If it was slightly back in time, he would have likely participated in such event happily.
“Good grief, do thou want to make me empress? Or not? I can relax at this kind of event.”
Therese might be worn out from managing the nobles who despise her because she’s a woman and due to the heavy responsibility that accompanies the position.
“It’s quite difficult, isn’t it?”
“As I’m leaving the governing to someone else, I can’t say anything.” (Katharina)
Elise and Katharina look at her sympathetically, but that stops at once.
Therese suddenly clings to my arm and presses her breasts against it.
“It’s really difficult for me. Please support me from now on as honorary Earl.” (Therese)
“What are you doing all of a sudden?”
“『Storm』, eh? It’s because Wendelin now also serving as noble of the empire is an auspicious event. The petty officials of both countries that love precedents will try to nag about it, but such things will naturally quiet down once Wendelin and I obtain achievements while being close. We have to get along with each other as well.”
“Please think about the public gazes!”
“At this event?”
As this event is treated as eating in my house, peerage and social status basically gets ignored.
In reality, High Earl Mizuho, Burkhart-san and Doushi kicked up a fuss while happily drinking booze together.
“With there only being great alcohol, it’s the best.”
“It penetrates through the organs!”
“You two are resilient. Alright! Losing in drinking here is not worthy of the reputation as High Earl Mizuho!”
Probably because they don’t want to get involved, they are making more noise than necessary while putting aside their ranks.
“Erwin, you drink as well!”
“It will be troublesome if you can’t drink to some extent now that you’ve become an adult. Here, drink up this sake cup within a count of 3.”
“I have brought a shochu with high alcohol content. You will drink it up after diluting it with Kabos fruit juice, First Retainer of Earl Baumeister.”
“I can’t drink this much all of a sudden…”
Erw, who got caught by the three, had a bright red face after being offered large quantities of alcohol.
He’s completely like a newcomer that got caught by his superior at the company’s welcome party for the rookies.
“That place over there is an exception.”
Elise took her gaze off Erw who searches for help in the surroundings.
As a matter of fact, she might actually have a good character.
“If I do that at an official occasion, it will get troublesome due to all the formality. Therefore, I will aim for skinship like this during such an event as this. Do thee have any complaints about that?”
Due to Therese’s question, Katharina fumbles around with her words at first.
However, apparently having come up with something, she immediately went for the counterattack.
“I do! To seduce someone’s husband in front of me who is his wife! Even if you consider the difference in social status, that’s outlawry! It’s nothing but a troublesome and reckless deed!”
“Ooh! That’s a sound argument.”
Therese agreed to Katharina’s strong criticism without getting angry.
“In that case!”
“Don’t mind it. Even if there are countless women around Wendelin, I won’t mind it at all. A man like him is someone women compete over to begin with. Also, if I become an official wife or lover, it won’t be any outlawry either.”
Due to the statement Therese declared boldly, Katharina’s expression changes as if the maliciousness had been extracted from it.
“Geez. Even though no one would kick up a fuss if I were a man.”
Certainly, it’s as Therese says.
A male prince-elector can request to make the female noble he fancies into his wife.
In that case it’s a truth that the nobles would end it with saying something along the lines of 『Being fancied by Duke ○○, isn’t that an honour for that young woman?』
“Duke Nürnberg is a stubborn conservative that also dwells in reminiscing about the old days. If that man becomes emperor, it will likely get too oppressive for a female family head. Only that much makes it worth to overthrow him. He’s someone I want to finish off quickly.”
Therese has been burdened with hardships since being a young child.
Once they realized that, Elise and the others were unable to say anything.
“(But, she’s also a female fox.)”
Inducing the sympathy of others, Therese enjoyed the food and alcohol for around two hours after that while linking arms with me.
When Ina, who noticed Therese’s intention, tries to tear her off me, she uses another remark that appeals to another difficulty next.
“Thou have to prevent those opposing it at tomorrow’s conferring of decorations ceremony.”
Because she knows of my feelings that it’s wrong if I don’t go to the imperial capital to destroy that device, Ina ground her teeth in anger while unable to stop her.
“Ina-chan, you are unexpectedly persistent.”
“It’s necessary to believe in Wend-sama here.”
Wilma and Luise have expressions of having completely given up.
Watching my state of earnestly trying to avoid it, one might think that Therese is something like a typhoon.
“I will endure a bit of skinship. I’m an adult woman after all.” (Luise)
“However, it will be a forced removal if she aims for something like a fait accompli.”
However they declared that they will forcefully get rid of her if she tries to use force high-handedly.
No matter how much Therese can use the sword, she shouldn’t be able to win against the fighting strength of Luise and Wilma.
“The small ones among Wendelin’s wives might be scary…”
Therese drew back a bit due the declaration of those two.
“I had fun today. I will come here again.”
It’s questionable whether it was peaceful, but the barbecue party, including the intruders, ended safely.
Today various things happened, but since I’m worn-out either way, I want to go sleep soon.
“Dear, you can’t show any carelessness towards Therese-sama. From now on you won’t sleep by yourself.”
Once I enter the bedroom, Elise is waiting for me while wearing a negligee. It has been decided that I will sleep in turns with my wives again from today onwards.
“As it’s already late, I don’t mind sleeping normally together. That’s because it seems like she will start making sneak visits if it’s only you, Wendelin-sama.”
There was no one else besides Therese who would do that, but certainly, the possibility of that happening is high.
Since she’s the chief commander of the guards inside the encampment, it will happen one way or another.
“Let’s sleep together then? Today it will only be sleep though as I’m sleepy after all.”
“That’s fine with me for today. However, I have a single request.”
“Yes. It’s something I heard from Ina-san before. If a woman uses the arms of the man as pillow at such time… is it no good?”
Elise, who asks me with upturned eyes while looking embarrassed, was adorable in a different way from Therese.
“It’s fine with me. Let’s sleep early then in preparation for tomorrow?”
Once I allow her to use my arms as pillow, Elise immediately falls asleep as if feeling relieved.
She hasn’t participated in direct battle, but since there doesn’t exist a battlefield with no injured people, Elise, who was in charge of healing, should have been busy.
“Good night, Elise.”
Exhausted from the continuous use of magic, I closed my eyes and immediately departed into the world of dreams.