Unlike in chapter 94, where Wendelin killed his master Alfred in the end and set the supplies of the rebel army ablaze in a fit of vengeance, Wendelin, Burkhart and Doushi lost the fight and were merely rescued by Wendelin using the tactical move of burning the supplies, causing the rebel army to retreat, which interrupted the battle against Alfred (Talrand).
“This is more intense than expected, isn’t it? Even I have grown old.” Burkhart sighs
“It’s the same for me, too.” (Armstrong)
“Though, you do look fine to me, Doushi.”
The special magic training held every morning.
Today’s menu included a lot of actual combat-related parts. Burkhart-san, who participated as well, was out of breath and even Doushi was drenched in sweat. It’s the same for me as well. It’s not really as though I‘ve cut corners until now, but either way, I have to do as much as I can. The reason is that we have to definitely defeat Alfred Reinford, my master who was resurrected all of a sudden.
Us three lost to master alone. No matter how much he made use of the Ancient Magic Civilization’s inheritance, those are no more than simple tools. Putting aside Doushi, for Burkhart-san to also participate in the severe special training was because his pride as a magician was deeply hurt when he was deemed to be the easiest one to handle by master who was his pupil in the past.
“The best method to defeat Alf is to become as strong as possible through intensive training anyway. There’s no simple method to defeat that guy.” (Burkhart)
Wiping the sweat away with his hand, Burkhart-san explains to Doushi and me while drinking maté tea from a canteen.
“I suppose master hasn’t anything like a weakness? There’s none, right…?” (Wendelin)
The scary part about master is his skill in counter-attacking while dodging his opponent’s attacks.
No matter how great Doushi’s offensive ability might be, it serves no purpose if it doesn’t hit, and that applied to me as well.
My mana that exceeds master was completely useless.
“Having said that, although the first fight was hard, that guy made a mistake.” (Burkhart)
To me it didn’t seem as if master made any mistakes, but…
“He wasn’t able to kill us in that battle. We are not idiots either. We can come up with countermeasures.” (Burkhart)
We will oppose that particular attack, which penetrates 『Magic Barriers』 by thickening the 『Magic Barrier』 the instant we sense it. Right now we are in the middle of having special training for that.
Its effectiveness is apparent and the success rate is gradually rising.
On the other hand, it’s a mana-efficient attack that breaks only a part of the enemy’s 『Magic Barrier』. This has been successful in its use against enemy magicians who came challenging us after master. I got the hang of it while fighting with master.
“Hmm, in that case, I guess you forcing the rebel army to withdraw by burning down their supplies has been an unexpected accident if seen from Alfred’s standpoint, Earl Baumeister.” (Armstrong)
“After all, Alf has shown up in this world by using the body of the magician kept by Duke Nürnberg, Talrand or something like that, correct?” (Burkhart)
Kept* is a cruel way to phrase it, but for an enemy, who mocks the dead, this level of assessment is plenty. (T/N: Like a pet, is the meaning here)
“It’s Talrand who is lending his body while keeping control, not master.” (Wendelin)
It might have been possible to defeat us if he kept attacking us, but there was no way that Talrand would defy the rebel army’s order to withdraw after the majority of the supplies went up in flames.
Master’s weakness is the existence of Duke Nürnberg and Talrand.
“Even so, just what is that magic?”
“I know that it’s holy magic. It allows the dead to possess your body. That’s how much I understand.”
“If it’s that kind of magic, it’s better to ask Elise!” (Armstrong)
When we headed to Elise’s location following Doushi’s suggestion, she was preparing breakfast together with my other wives.
“Wend, the special training has already finished?” (Luise)
“The target is high, but overdoing it too much is unreasonable as well.” (Wendelin)
“Oh well, the path of training won’t be completed in one day. Wend, properly wipe away your sweat.” (Ina)
Once I sat down at the table while having my sweat wiped by Ina, Luise and Wilma immediately started to line up the breakfast dishes on top of the table.
“Huh? What about Erw?” (Wendelin)
“Just like you, Wend, he’s doing a special morning training with Haruka, I think, but he should be back soon.”
“They are practising as a married couple.”
“They aren’t married yet though?”
“Essentially they are like a married couple.”
Certainly, it’s just as Wilma says. It has reached the point that those two are always together.
“I’m back.” (Erwin)
“I have come back.” (Haruka)
With the return of Erw and Haruka, breakfast time began. Meals are provided in a batch within the liberation army, but I could never be like a soldier and regard quantity being the most important quality of a meal.
Since we are treated as mercenaries, to begin with, there have been no complaints about us taking care of our own meals. There are also some among the nobles who are preparing their own meals as they are fed up with the same kind of meals being served every day. It resulted in Elise and the others now making the meals for us.
“It’s that magic.”
While eating, I ask Elise to explain the magic used by Talrand.
Until now I never heard about having the dead possess one’s body.
“The person called Talrand used holy magic without a doubt.” (Elise)
“So it’s holy magic after all…?”
It’s kind of difficult to explain it with the magic of other attributes.
“It’s rare, but there is a method that allows one to convey the words of the dead residing in Heaven through magic.” (Elise)
Convey the words of the dead? Does that mean he’s like a necromancer of Osorezan? 1
“Never heard of that.”
“That’s because the church doesn’t wish for it to be used.” (Elise)
The church thinks badly of calling the dead who have ascended to Heaven, as it’s not good for the living to depend on the dead.
The church hates this kind of magic.
“It does seem like a fraud, doesn’t it? Like scamming a large reward by saying that they can listen to the words of the deceased, despite being unable to use the magic.”
“Yes… or rather, the majority consists of such kinds of people.”
Even if it’s the church, they probably can’t ignore its believers getting deceived by fake mediums.
The donations to the church would decrease as well, wouldn’t they?
“As a rare exception, that gentleman is the real deal.” (Elise)
The real deal for a change… let alone 『The majority consists of such kind of people』; doesn’t that mean that it’s mostly nothing but imposters?
“Are you saying that it’s something that has evolved even further from the magic to hear the words of the dead?” (Armstrong)
“Yes, uncle-sama.” (Elise)
“It might be unique to not only be able to convey the words of the dead, but also to take those spirits into his body,” Elise added.
“The presence of that gentleman is weak, but Luise-san, you are more of an expert regarding this matter, aren’t you?” (Elise)
“Elise, it’s completely different to erasing one’s presence in martial arts, you know?” (Luise)
“No, the basic principle should be the same.” (Elise)
“Luise, has that guy been erasing his presence?” (Wendelin)
“Hmm… it doesn’t feel as if he’s doing it consciously.” (Luise)
“That’s true. If he was able to switch it on and off like that, he probably wouldn’t get others to forget him in such manner.” (Burkhart)
Having that pointed out by Burkhart-san, we nodded all at once.
“It might be the same as me.” (Wilma)
“The same as you, Wilma-san?” (Katharina)
Katharina tilted her head wondering how Wilma is resembling Talrand.
“I have constantly been maintaining my superhuman strength due to the Hero Syndrome. Even without me doing anything, my mana is still consumed little by little, causing my stomach to be very empty.” (Wilma)
While saying so, Wilma plasters ample amounts of butter on a bread that’s bigger than her own face and starts stuffing her cheeks.
“I guess that’s how it is.” (Haruka)
The one who understood Wilma’s simple explanation first was Haruka.
She’s enjoying the standard breakfast menu of a Mizuho person, namely rice balls, miso soup, grilled fish and pickled vegetables.
“What do you mean, Haruka-san?” (Erwin)
Eating the same menu as Haruka, Erw asked her about the meaning of her words.
“It’s something like Wilma-san casting 『Superhuman Strength』 at any time. The person called Talrand might be doing something similar, always staying in a state of casting magic that erases his presence.” (Haruka)
So he continuously has no presence because he can’t cancel the magic by himself? That means he has been erasing his presence since his childhood, but it doesn’t mean that he can’t be seen by the people around him. He simply doesn’t stand out. As a result, he doesn’t leave any lasting impression of what kind of person he is, despite being present.
“Does that have a relation to the previously mentioned magic? Not having any presence and taking the existence of the dead into his body feels different though.”
“No, Erw-san. It has a good affinity with 『Channeling』 that adopts the speech and conduct of the dead.” (Elise)
“Does that mean that’s it’s easy for the dead to descend into his body by themselves since his own presence is weak?” (Wendelin)
“That’s the feeling I have.” (Elise)
According to Elise, the majority of those, who use the real 『Channeling』, seem to be plain, inconspicuous people.
“(That’s magic most unsuitable to Doushi, isn’t it?)” (Erwin)
It’s just as Erw says. For Doushi, who has a big presence, 『Channeling』 is probably impossible.
But even before that, I think no spirits will approach him.
” As well as being able to erase his presence automatically with magic, he also so happens to possesses the talent for 『Channeling』. That means, not only the speech and conduct, but he can even take the dead into his body.”
“I believe it’s mostly as you say, Ina-san.”
Although it’s by coincidence, he’s quite the troublesome enemy.
“He’s cut out for being a spy or such, isn’t he?”
“That’s right. Easy assassinations or such…”
Listening to the conversation between Burkhart-san and Katharina, all of us sink into silence.
Why did Duke Nürnberg hide Talrand?
Did he hide him for the critical moment since he isn’t the type of magician you can announce to society like the idiotic four brothers? It should have a high success rate if he uses him behind the scenes because the powerful people will likely watch out for him in fear of assassination if they learn of Talrand’s existence.
“Even the death of the previous emperor, His Majesty Wilhelm the 14th…”
“But, I have heard that he had heart disease.”
There’s a poison that causes such condition.”
“Wend-sama, wouldn’t it be better to warn Therese-sama just in case?” (Wilma)
“I guess you’re right.” (Wendelin)
There was no proof for the opinion of doubting whether the previous emperor hadn’t been assassinated, but even so, it would be troublesome if Therese ended up dying at this point in time by any chance.
After breakfast, I went to Therese’s place and roughly recounted the conversation we had during breakfast.
“His Majesty the Emperor has been… I’d like to believe that it has not been the case, but… I will reinforce the guards. At any rate…” (Therese)
“Yes? What is it?” (Wendelin)
I’m surprised because Therese showed a bright smile all over her face suddenly, even though she had a meek expression at the beginning.
“Thou might be saying this or that, but Wendelin, thou can’t bear worrying about mine well-being, can you? Have a peace of mind. I will stay in good health until I give birth to thy child.” (Therese)
“That story and this story are different, but…” (Wendelin)
I must admit that I have no other official reason but me worrying about her.
“If thee like, thou can immediately with me…” (Therese)
“Hey! Supreme Commander!” (Luise)
Therese tried to embrace me, but that was prevented by Luise who suddenly forced her way between the two of us.
“Therese-sama, your guards still have a lot to learn.” (Luise)
“Ugh, although I really have strengthened my guards…” (Therese)
Therese revealed a frustrated expression due to Luise having been able to get right in front of her just by herself.
“Therese-sama, do your best and establish a tight security net. Well then, I will go back home with Wend.” (Luise)
I watch Therese seeing us off while grinding her teeth after looking at Luise and I leave the tent with our hands connected.
＊ ＊ ＊
“I’m terribly sorry. The responsibility for the defeat lies with me.”
“No, it’s my fault. There’s no need to worry about it, Talrand.” (Nürnberg)
It was an unexpected defeat.
Although he had the assistance of the Ancient Magic Civilization’s magic tools, Talrand overwhelmed Earl Baumeister, Burkhart and Armstrong-doushi. It should have been easily possible to defeat the three of them. And yet, for them to choose the strategy to burn our army’s supplies…
It looks like I underestimated Earl Baumeister as a man who’s only good at magic.
By no means did I expect him to target our food.
Even if we had defeated Earl Baumeister and the others then and there, Therese’s military forces would have been in perfect shape. The field encampment located in the Great Sorbid Wastelands was sturdier than I expected. There would have been the danger of our army collapsing due to lacking provisions if we had a hard time attacking that location. As the one leading the troops, making the soldiers starve would be an unspeakable disgrace.
Even if we had tried to procure food locally, there are only a few places where people live in the vicinity of the Great Sorbid Wastelands. We wouldn’t have been able to secure the necessary amount of food at all. In that case, I can assume that a gracious retreat was the best option.
“Talrand, I have something to talk about with that man.” (Nürnberg)
“As you wish, Sir.” (Talrand)
That man is the extremely skilled magician Alfred Reinford who drove Earl Baumeister and his group into a predicament. Even without being detailed on my order, Talrand guessed what I asked for and summoned him with 『Heroic Spirit Summoning』.
“Oh my, oh my, if it isn’t Duke Nürnberg-dono who likes to handle his dead roughly.” (Alfred)
This man was more excellent than I thought. However, he still doesn’t obey me fully.
It seems that Talrand is struggling to make him listen to what he’s telling him as well.
“The dead won’t get tired, right?” (Nürnberg)
“There’s a feeling of tiredness, but a spirit body is similar to a cluster of mana. It won’t recover unless some time passes.” (Alfred)
“Is that why you let Earl Baumeister and his friends get away?” (Duke Nürnberg)
“Isn’t it odd for you to say that? Even if it was a failure, I only loyally followed your order to retreat after the food ended up getting reduced to ashes, Duke Nürnberg-dono. Or would it have been better if I stayed behind and finished them off?” (Alfred)
This man intends to defy me to the bitter end, doesn’t he? We might have been able to defeat Earl Baumeister’s group if Talrand had continued to attack. However, there’s no way for that Therese to let the exhausted Talrand get away. I’m sure she would have killed Talrand with all her magicians.
Given that Talrand cornered the three magicians of the kingdom in the last battle, there should be many people who consider our side to be superior. In reality, on top of not having taken the field encampment, our army suffered losses beyond expectations. Moreover, a large quantity of our supplies ended up getting burnt. Several magicians, who protected the supplies died as well.
I deployed them in order to strengthen the protection of the food as magicians that would become intermediate level sooner or later, but… as a result that backfired into harm to our side.
That means my perception is still insufficient. What if Earl Baumeister’s group came aiming for our army’s supplies once again?
I have to dispatch advanced-levelled magicians to the defence of the food. That will lower the number of such magicians I can send out to the frontline, won’t it?
“All things considered, Wend isn’t half bad, I guess. To come up with the idea of burning the supplies in that situation.” (Alfred)
“Are you happy about your pupil’s growth?” (Nürnberg)
“Yes, after all, I’m his teacher.” (Alfred)
Bah, for this damned man to reply cheerfully from the bottom of his heart without any shred of hesitation. It’s not hard to imagine how much Talrand is struggling just to make this guy fight normally.
He’s capable, but difficult to handle.
“Next time you will be able to win, right?” (Nürnberg)
“Who knows?” (Alfred)
“What do you mean with ‘Who knows’?” (Nürnberg)
There are also some of the previous magic tools left, so he should be able to kill those three as long as he’s not careless, as a prerequisite.
“Since this was an order, it couldn’t be helped, but it was a huge blunder that we weren’t capable of defeating those three at that point.” (Alfred)
“They survived a hard fight that brought them close to death. That experience will likely have a big influence on the next battle. Since I’m a dead man, I can’t grow any further.” (Alfred)
“Hmm, can magicians get stronger so quickly?” (Nürnberg)
“No, not at all. I’m just not taking them lightly. To begin with, the amount of my mana doesn’t measure up with Wend’s and Klimt’s. Now that they gained experience in that battle against me, the next battle has become uncertain.” (Alfred)
“I see.” (Nürnberg)
I guess this guy doesn’t plan on yielding to me no matter what. However, it’s unlikely that he will be able to go against Talrand.
If there are no uncalled-for outsiders, Talrand should overwhelm Earl Baumeister’s group next time for sure.
Once Earl Baumeister and his friends die, the biggest hindrance when I attack the kingdom will be gone.
“You are free to think whatever you like, but Talrand will definitely defeat Earl Baumeister and his group.” (Nürnberg)
Indeed, a puppet is at most good at flapping its mouth impudently.
“My goodness, what a lovely relation between master and servant. Though it has nothing to do with me.” (Alfred)
This bastard, he’s really pissing me off.
I was an idiot for considering even for a moment to have him become my retainer if he stays alive.
Your master, best friend and favourite pupil; I will make sure to have them killed next time by all means, for the sake of realising my ambitions.
＊ ＊ ＊
In the end, the first decisive battle between Therese and Duke Nürnberg finished without a clear conclusion.
“Tsk! There were only a few losses among the proteges of Duke Nürnberg. You can’t call it a victory like this.”
Many of the troops in charge of inflicting damage, who were left behind when the elites led by Duke Nürnberg withdrew, were killed or became prisoners due to Therese’s order for pursuit.
If you go by the loss ratio, it’s probably our side’s victory, but it’s hard to say that we delivered fatal damage to Duke Nürnberg’s trusted military forces.
Even Philip, who is leading the kingdom’s forces, was grim-faced.
“There were many who surrendered. Thus it looks like their management has become troublesome, correct?”
“Therese-sama was at her wits’ end with their management.”
“Certainly there’s no way that she can simply execute all of them. Humans will die if they don’t get anything to eat. Securing the food necessary to feed them is what troubles Therese-sama.”
Because they were used as disposable pawns, they ended up surrendering easily once Duke Nürnberg pulled back his army. There are also many nobles among them who are angry at Duke Nürnberg, but it’s hard to treat them as allies just because of that.
Given that their territories and families have been taken hostage, it’s possible that they will betray us once again as soon as it turns into a battle.
“So even the prisoners are a trap…?”
“To make such far-sighted judgement in that instant, huh? It seems Duke Nürnberg is an excellent soldier.”
“Though, honestly you can’t admire him as a human,” Philip added in a self-deprecating manner.
“I wonder what we are going to do from now on? Will it turn into a standoff once again?”
“No, we have no other choice but to advance ahead.”
“Isn’t that dangerous?”
“It might be dangerous, but if we let Duke Nürnberg act as he pleases, the empire will only become barren. In order to defeat him and assert the legitimacy of her political power, Therese-sama has to set out.”
“I see. Then why did you make such big blunder in the dispute the other day despite having an understanding of political decisions?”
“Don’t talk about that. There’s a difference between stating one’s opinion from the sideline and making the right decision as a concerned party.”
Having that pointed out by me, Philip’s expression becomes even more bitter.
“We will take Alhans.” (Therese)
“Isn’t that an important military position?” (Wendelin)
“That’s why we are going to take it.” (Therese)
Both sides keeping staring at each other will just ruin the empire. She especially seems to have the impression that it’s dangerous to leave the imperial capital in Duke Nürnberg’s palms any longer.
Since I had roughly checked the map of the empire, I knew the location of Alhans.
It’s located around the halfway point between the Great Sorbid Wastelands and the capital. It’s a major military base of the imperial army.
It’s a huge citadel and military base with an adjoining city boasting a population of over 30,000 residents.
Although it’s not official, it’s a major city treated as the secondary capital by the empire’s people. If we take this place, it might become possible to take a peek at the imperial capital.
“Won’t that be harsh on our military power?”
“It’s also a move to bolster that military power.”
There haven’t been that many losses on our side in the battles so far. Rather, the losses on the rebel army’s side are bigger. However, if we talk about the distribution of military power, Duke Nürnberg’s side is still ahead of us. It’s doubtful whether we would be able to win against him at the moment.
“If it’s the current forces of arms, they’ve increased.”
Therese explained that she addressed my concern by adding the aforementioned prisoners of war.
“Are you tempting the nobles north of Alhans to turn their back on Duke Nürnberg?”
“They feel animosity towards the way Duke Nürnberg does things. If their territories enter the liberation army’s sphere of influence, the necessity of worrying about a possible betrayal will vanish, too. Fresh reinforcements from the rear will arrive as well. That should also lower our numerical disadvantage.” (Therese)
“That might be the case, but…” (Wendelin)
“Duke Nürnberg lost a great number of provisions and supplies. It’s highly unlikely for him to go on the offensive with his whole army for a while.” (Therese)
Apparently, it’s because I burned down the rebel army’s large-scaled supply point in the previous battle.
“Once again gathering the supplies allowing him to move an army with more than 100,000 soldiers will take time. He should withdraw to the neighbourhood of the capital after taking his supply routes being cut off into consideration.” (Therese)
“Won’t it be fine if they resupply with magic bags?” (Wendelin)
“Aren’t thou the one who burned those magic bags along the magicians carrying them, Wendelin?” (Therese)
Since the amount of goods consumed by an army is large, magic bags and normal wagons are used at the same time.
Not depending on just one of those methods is a simple security measure.
The supplies that had been transported with conventional means and the general-purpose magic bags had been placed at that storage location.
A majority of those went up in flames due to my magic.
“Even Duke Nürnberg is likely struck by terror due to thy quick-wittedness and magic that burned down the supply point and the supply unit which were both located quite far in the back, Wendelin.” (Therese)
“Are you sure?” (Wendelin)
He might have considered it as unexpected, but it’s not really as though I’m excelling as a soldier.
I think he probably won’t be that cautious of me.
“Either way, I’d like thou to depart alongside the advance guard.” (Therese)
Receiving Therese’s order, we start heading south with a military force of around 60,000.
However, our kingdom’s forces of 1,500 will take independent actions, being treated as flying squadron.
“Captain Erwin-dono, right now it’s fine for you not to be so tense.”
A middle-aged veteran commander called out to Erw with a banter.
Erw, whom I had left in Philip’s care, commanded around 500 soldiers from the kingdom’s army that he had been entrusted with as company commander. Erw with his mere 16 years in age has become frozen stiff on his horse because of nervousness due to this heavy responsibility.
“E-Erw-san, relax.” (Haruka)
“Haruka-san, please relax as well. You are also too stiff.”
The middle-aged royal army soldier, who’s acting as vice-captain, pointed out Haruka’s own tension as she was trying to ease Erw’s nervousness.
Haruka is accompanying Erw not only as his fiancée but also in her job as Erw’s assistant.
“I’m not nervous or anything like that.” (Haruka)
“I have also experienced the same in my early days. For now, let’s calm down by taking a deep breath. After all, there won’t be any battle for a while.”
Feeling doubts towards the prediction of the vice-captain who helps Erw, I try asking Philip, who is confidently riding his horse next to mine, his opinion.
“He’s saying something like that, but… will it be alright?” (Wendelin)
“Duke Nürnberg forced the troops of the nobles, who aren’t his own proteges, to take such unreasonable actions. Those nobles, whose territories are around here, are likely raging within their hearts at Duke Nürnberg. Thus I don’t expect them to be hostile towards us but rather to cooperate with our side due to their hatred of Duke Nürnberg.” (Philip)
“That’s why there probably won’t be that many battles until our objective, Alhans,” Philip and the middle-aged vice-captain predicted.
“The majority of the 60,000 troops currently spearheaded by us are nobles who possess territory north of Alhans. They will surely announce their participation in the liberation army after returning to their territories.” (Philip)
Even though many of their allies were killed by the liberation army in the previous battle, they will only be treated as disposables again if they join up with the rebel army once more at this point in time.
Until now they had no other choice but to obey Duke Nürnberg out of fear.
I can understand the grief of those nobles.
“We will leave the negotiations with the nobles around here and matters regarding the military government after the occupation to Alfons-dono, and simply advance onwards, right? It’s not like we will move to the very front anyway.” (Philip)
“Are we going to deal with guerilla warfare trying to sever our supply lines?” (Wendelin)
“Of course we will do that, but there’s a limit to what we can do with 1,500 soldiers. Besides, this unit is treated as an assembly of mercenaries and outsiders, right? Christoph.” (Philip)
“Yes, nii-san.” (Christoph)
“Show that map to Earl Baumeister.” (Philip)
“Here you go.” (Christoph)
Christoph hands a map over to me.
The roads in this area had been drawn in quite a detailed manner on it.
“We have secured several supply routes usable by wagons, but it’s very likely that these will be cut off. However, since we are doing on the assumption that they will be cut off, we will immediately know the enemy’s position once it happens. Even if they attack or run away, it’s useful for the securing of supply routes. That’s why we entrusted a large number of goods that don’t need to be replenished to you in advance, Earl Baumeister.” (Philip)
“Making use of our past experience, escape routes have been prepared at five locations. They are perfect as they are mountain routes that aren’t used overly much by people.”
“I guess we can feel relieved in that case.”
I agree with Philip’s and Christoph’s explanations.
It’s because I completely consented to their policy of quickly running away if things go west.
“Though it would have been great if you could have used that ability of yours in that dispute, don’t you agree?” (Wendelin)
“We told you, don’t talk about that!”
I ended up getting retorted by both brothers at the same time.
Our advance continues after that.
However, each time we pass through the several noble territories and cities along the way, we make a stopover.
That’s because we are asked to sell them some food since they don’t have much.
“There’s no food?”
“Yes. It was completely bought up by the emperor’s forces after and before the rumoured battle that took place a few days ago…”
Though we are in a civil war, even Duke Nürnberg is probably avoiding openly pillaging in imperial territory. But, it appears that he bought the food forcibly at a price that’s much cheaper than the market price.
“If you have some food, even if it’s just a little bit, please sell it to us, so that we can barely last until the harvest…”
“Isn’t that a questionable scorched-earth strategy…?”
Christoph turned my way with an expression as if asking me 『What are we going to do?』.
I can’t consider it as anything but sabotage against the advancing liberation army.
Duke Nürnberg is probably aiming for the liberation army to provoke the residents’ opposition by making it forcefully procuring its food locally.
“Sorry, but we don’t have any food to spare either.”
We advance forward while continuing to refuse their pleas.
There are many territories that joined the liberation army after the feudal lord’s army returned, but there were also places where the feudal lord has died in battle or is still missing, and nobles who came attacking us while still allied with Duke Nürnberg this late in the game.
They tried to launch surprise attacks against us by capitalising on their locational advantage.
“We cannot afford to have too many losses, okay?”
A few dozen soldiers have launched an ambush from the mountain road’s side, but they were swiftly dealt with as I had sensed them long ago.
“A knight peerage, huh? Erwin, you are in charge of the left-wing after we have surrounded them.” (Philip)
Even their carefully planned-out surprise attack comes to nothing due to me discovering them in advance. They end up getting surrounded by us easily.
Receiving help from his vice-captain and Haruka, Erw moved his unit as ordered by Philip.
“Are we going to wrap it up in one go?” (Philip)
“No, there’s the proverb 『A cornered rat will bite the cat』, right?” (Wendelin)
“Are they really going to surrender without even fighting once?” (Philip)
“I will make them.” (Wendelin)
Philip was sceptical, but I go out in front and cast a very weak 『Area Stun』 against the enemy army lying in wait. Since the power is at a level of a low-frequency medical device, they yell in surprise and easily give away their positions.
“In case you don’t surrender, I will have all of you die without even the time for you to swing your swords at us…” (Wendelin)
Once the ambush ended in failure, the commanding noble immediately threw away his weapon and surrendered.
A low-ranking elderly noble, seemingly a Knight, and soldiers wearing shabby equipment. It seems he formed his feudal army by recruiting peasants.
“If I don’t at least pretend to fight…”
The elderly noble was grandly toyed with in this civil war as a poor Knight.
Apparently, he announced his participation in the rebel army in the beginning and was ordered to guard the road without departing to the frontline since his rank is too low.
Thanks to that, he suffered no losses since he didn’t attack the liberation army’s field encampment.
“You will likely think badly of someone like me, who surrendered, asking something like this, but what’s going on with the civil war?”
It’s probably the sorrow of a small feudal lord living at the boundary between both powers.
It’s because there’s the possibility of not only him, but even the fief’s population getting annihilated if he makes a mistake in joining the wrong side.
“Since we are still continuing our advance south, this place should also soon enter the liberation army’s sphere of influence.”
“…” He sighs and asks “Alhans, is it?”
“I can’t tell you because we are in the midst of a military operation.”
He’s an old man with a strangely good perception.
I tried to dodge the issue, but I guess anyone with a bit of military knowledge will realise that Alhans is our current target.
“For that reason, please stay in your territory without scheming anything unnecessary.”
“Umm… Can’t you take us along?”
Advancing while adding the military forces that just surrendered is a pattern that often comes up in military history records, but I don’t know whether we can trust them.
If we were betrayed after advancing even further south, we will end up getting attacked from behind.
Since I can’t come to a decision, I shift my look towards Philip, seeking his advice.
“We won’t get anywhere if you don’t make the decisions as supreme commander.” (Philip)
“The number of our troops is going to grow, and they will also serve as guides. Once we take Alhans, the area around here will turn into a safety zone, so it’s probably alright, I think?”
“That’s what I believe, too.” (Philip)
“Guiding you it is, right? Please leave it to us. Let me introduce myself properly. I’m Bernal Günther von Popek. I serve as the family head of a humble, poor Knight household. By the way, about those accompanying me…”
———————- Part 2 ————————
A few hours after that we continued our march to the south again.
The elderly Knight called Popek followed us in his role as a guide. After briefly taking his initial troops back to his territory, he brought a new group of soldiers that only consisted of old people with him for some reason.
“Our surplus food was beaten down to a low price by Duke Nürnberg, so the young folks have to toil away on the fields.” (Popek)
The majority of the thirty-soldiers-strong army was made up by elderly.
“Earl Baumeister-dono, I’d like to make the lords in my neighbourhood join up with us.” (Popek)
“As long as those gathered cause no problems.” (Philip)
Due to Philip’s approval, the neighbouring lords join us one after the other while taking their troops along.
“He’s a governor of an area under the direct control of the empire. Since he’s the governor of a small area split into small pieces, it’s almost like hereditary nobility, but…” (Popek)
His appearance is that of a normal old man, but Popek seems to be surprisingly well-connected.
In a week after his participation, many nobles and the governors of the areas under the empire’s direct control joined us while leading their troops, and our military force increased by almost three times of its original number to around 4,000 soldiers.
However, the majority of the soldiers were elderly.
I don’t think it’s an issue since those who can’t move aren’t participating, but Christoph’s prediction was in the process of coming true.
『Since their food is barely enough, the elderly have apparently taken the initiative and are serving as soldiers.』 (Christoph)
Certainly, I can’t say that it doesn’t feel as if it’s his diplomatic way of saying that they are reducing the number of mouths to feed.
But, as all of them participated several times in disputes during their early days, they walk in orderly ranks, allowing one to grasp their experience from their bearing. And, it doesn’t look as if they are just weak either.
“As planned the supplies are arriving from the rear, so there probably won’t be any problems since they are functioning as a military force.” (Philip)
The increase of our military forces stands out and accordingly lures other nobles to participate as well.
However, once those nobles see that our side has a lot of elderly, they only bring along old soldiers as well.
“There’s no choice but to pray that there won’t be any battle, is there?”
“I don’t know about that. However, they are much more useful than new recruits.”
The old soldiers were very familiar with things such as setting up sleeping tents and preparing food on a march.
At the time when we arrived at the eastern side of Alhans after continuously advancing south for around two weeks, Popek, who has become the leader of the old soldiers, starts saying something outrageous.
“Let’s take Sakart.” (Popek)
“Sakart? Where’s that?” (Wendelin)
Once we spread the map in a hurry and search, we discover a city with that name in the south around 10 kilometres from here.
“What’s the point in taking such a city?” (Erwin)
Erw’s question was reasonable.
Rather, stopping to march south any further and taking part in the attack against Alhans would be probably much easier.
Since our side has nothing but old people, we will likely be placed on standby in the back.
“There’s an abandoned fortress next to this city, you know?” (Popek)
“Look, it’s the recent trend nowadays. In order to save on the budget, they consolidate military installations…” (Popek)
The fortress adjoining to the city of Sakart is very old. At the time when the empire was still a small country, it apparently served as an important defence base against the enemies in the central-northern area.
Afterward, the empire advanced north and the value of the fortress decreased drastically.
Then talks about a complete demolition came up. The consolidation was carried out after negotiating for several hundred years with the imperial army’s top brass who held onto its vested rights. That seems to be something that took place 30 years ago.
“Did the imperial army resist the cost reduction for such a long time…?” (Wendelin)
“That’s because all of them hate a decrease in the number of posts that might be appointed to them.” (Popek)
This old man is remarkably well-informed about the circumstances of the imperial army, isn’t he?
The consolidation of army facilities was something often mentioned in the kingdom as well, but feeling an impending sense of danger due to the gradually declining military, he participated in Duke Nürnberg’s rebellion. But once he did so, he personally came to the conclusion that it was a petty-minded suspicion.
“But then it got completely demolished, right?”
“It’s being lent to merchants as there’s no budget or something like that.” (Popek)
Since it has excellent storehouses made out of stone with sturdy security, these have been rented out to the city’s merchants.
It seems they are managing it and have guards periodically patrol the area so that homeless and criminals don’t loiter around there.
“I’m aware of it because I’m occasionally shopping in the city of Sakart.” (Popek)
“One question!” (Luise)
“What is it, Luise-dono?” (Popek)
“The city of Sakart didn’t flourish like Alhans?” (Luise)
“Since it should have a population of 50,000, it’s mostly a commercial city. I hear their prosperity was snatched away by Alhans for various reasons.”
“Wend, what will we do?”
“Ina, what do you think?” (Wendelin)
While looking at the map, I was troubled about what we should do next.
Since it seems that Therese will leave the attack against Alhans to the main force according to her own words, it doesn’t look as if it would be much of a problem even if we observed from the rear while ignoring the fortress.
There are close to 50 nobles following me, so this should be more than enough of an achievement.
“How about scouting it out and going to Alhans if it’s no good?” (Ina)
“Well, I guess that’s the safest approach…” (Wendelin)
Deciding to try doing that as a test, we advance towards the city of Sakart while sending a scout unit, consisting of old soldiers provided by Popek’s group and soldiers of the kingdom’s forces, ahead.
The scout unit returns on the second day and informs us of the situation on-site, but the rebel army apparently had left a garrisoned force of around 100 soldiers and completely retreated to the rear.
“It looks like there has been yet another purchase of food, doesn’t it?”
“Probably, but if it’s Sakart’s merchants, they are likely skilled at hiding things. It’s impossible to force them.”
“They might have been extorted by the rebel army.”
“Isn’t that impossible?” (Erwin)
Erw seems to agree with Popek’s opinion.
“Why do you think so?”
“In order to raise their food supplies reliably, the rebel army likely aimed for the small-scaled territories of Popek’s group, but there are 50,000 residents in Sakart. Wouldn’t they run into resistance if they tried to forcefully buy food with only 1,000 or 2,000 soldiers?”
“Half of the 50,000 people are male. Even if you exclude the children and elderly, there are still 10,000 remaining, right? They are consuming a large amount of food anyway, and there would be people standing in their way. I guess they left them alone after stationing only a small number of guards.”
Philip reinforced the view of these two, and the opinion within the unit was in favor of an attack against Sakart.
“I pray that Sakart’s residents won’t become our enemies.”
“Earl Baumeister-dono, in times of such civil war, the common people will simply and calmly join the winning side.” (Popek)
If the rebel army remains, they will follow them, and if we drive them away, they will attach themselves to the liberation army.
“That’s all there is to it,” Popek asserts.
“It’s wrong to call that cowardice. After all, they have their own lives to live.”
I don’t particularly harbor any unpleasant feelings towards that.
It’s 『We will be loyal if you win』. That’s probably because they won’t do something as troublesome as recklessly challenging soldiers.
“In other words, you are saying that we just have to win?”
“If we hold out while repairing Sakart’s fortress, we will be able to apply pressure against the imperial capital in line with Alhans.”
“Popek-san, you are…”
Considering that he tried to make a stupid surprise attack, he has now quickly turned into a capable staff officer after surrendering.
He seems to be well-informed about military matters, and he’s a character that really triggers a feeling of being out of place considering he’s a rural Knight.
“I’m merely a poor Knight. Though I did serve in the imperial army in the past.”
Since he’s a second son, he served in the imperial army, but because his elder brother died early, he returned to his territory, he said.
“Given that my elder brother had a daughter, it means that I will have her marry my son and let them succeed the territory. Even though things may appear this way, I joined the elite course in the past.”
After briefly talking about himself, Popek puts both his hands on my shoulders.
“In the beginning, I wasn’t able to avoid joining the rebel army, but you came at a good time, Earl Baumeister-dono.”
“With all the other nobles and soldiers being old geezers, there are heirs even if we die after failing. Therefore, let’s do our best in taking Sakart, okay? It will be a nice present for Her Excellency Duchess Philip, won’t it?” (Popek)
Originally he was an elite of the imperial army, but Popek, the man who became a poor Knight due to his elder brother dying from a disease, apparently intends to earn some achievements, and become successful and well-known with a final battle.
All the nobles behind him seem to share his feelings.
It’s probably because all of them are old people who think that they won’t have any regrets even if they die here.
“What we’d like to ask of you, Earl Baumeister-dono, is to depend on you for an impartial report of our achievements.” (Popek)
“…” I sigh.
I barely managed to give them a reply due to their pressure.
We finally arrived in close proximity of Sakart, but there was no change in the number of stationed enemy soldiers in the city.
With the city’s public order being under control of the guards to begin with, they seem to be in a situation where they don’t have anything in particular to do.
I think it would have been better for them if they had secluded themselves in the fortress with its very high defence power, but with that being refused by the merchants as there would be the possibility of them embezzling the goods and food inside the storehouses, they had no other option but to freeload in the city.
“Though I believed this to be an important military location…” (Elise)
Elise had a stunned expression due to the rebel army’s stationed soldiers.
“They are probably thinking that they can get it back immediately even if it were to fall into our hands.”
“Is that really the case?” (Elise)
Looking at the river flowing next to the southern side of the city and fortress, Elise seems to believe that a recapture won’t be that simple.
“After all, it won’t hurt the rebel army, even if one or two cities are taken by the liberation army.”
What matters the most for Duke Nürnberg is his protege army of 110,000 soldiers.
As long as he has those, he will entice the liberation army to proceed south while aiming for a liberation of the imperial capital. That means he considers it to be no problem at all as long as he can defend the area around the capital and the south to the last, since it’s likely possible for him to crush the liberation army in the vicinity of the capital.
“He can receive supplies from the south and the circumference of the imperial capital. In contrast, the liberation army will lose time by putting the supply lines in order for a while since he has taken all the surplus food, right?”
He’s probably planning to increase the military power of his usable proteges by conducting training during that time.
“Even though you are young, you are doing a good job in seeing through Duke Nürnberg’s tactics, aren’t you?”
Philip seemed to have the same train of thoughts as me and praised me for my adequately conjectured tactical outlook for a change.
“He will try to cut apart the liberation army after its long march in one go while raiding the northern area of the imperial capital. Going by the battle array of the liberation army, he will lose unless he challenges the liberation army with almost all of his forces. So he’s probably thinking that the rest of the army will fall down like domino pieces if the rebel army can kill Duchess Philip-dono and the main staff of the army.”
Certainly, a liberation army that lost its leader and the top brass will easily be subjugated by the rebel army.
“He doesn’t spare any thoughts about the empire’s domain after the victory, does he?”
“That’s because Duke Nürnberg tends to lean towards the thinking of a soldier no matter what… While resolving the central and southern area’s discontent by giving them a favorable treatment through exploitation from the north, he will plot the unification of the empire, and after restoring the economy to some extent, he will try to head south or something along those lines. I think that’s his general idea.” (Christoph)
Everyone, including myself, nods while agreeing with Christoph’s prediction.
“Rather than matters in the distant future, I think we should first make the military base in front of us our own.”
Having said that, the plan has already been set in stone.
“Rebel army soldiers! Hand over Sakart and the fortress at once!”
Popek-san took a selection of the best old soldiers with him and started to provoke the stationed enemy soldiers at the entrance of the city.
“What’s up? Geezer, what’s your business with us?”
Once they show up, they provoke the rebels with soldiers that surpassed an age of 70.
There’s no difference in their numbers, but the enemy soldiers started to pursue them after leaving the city while fuming in anger and shouting 『As if we’d lose to such old geezers!』.
“Don’t run away, you old farts!”
“Aren’t you acting overly proudly despite being abandoned dropouts? Even the city treats you as parasites!”
“Old man! I will definitely kill you!”
Apparently being pricked where it hurts, the stationed soldiers lost control of themselves and chased Popek-san and the others.
The game of tag continued for a while, but at the moment they entered a rocky area, they noticed that they have been surrounded.
“Nice to meet you*. Guests, I will make sure to entertain you courteously.” (T/N: Gokigen’yo … greeting of rich/noble girls)
Katharina, who showed up in front of them, cleanly cut apart a huge rock with her『Wind Cutter』.
Due to the excessive power of the spell, the stationed soldiers froze while keeping their mouths wide open.
“I won’t stop you if you tell me that you wish to fight, but all of you will have to bid an eternal farewell to your heads and bodies at that time.” (Katharina)
Daunted by Katharina’s threat, the stationed soldiers tossed away their weapons and surrendered.
“Although it should have been quite an important military base…”
Haruka, who directed their disarmament, felt as if she couldn’t believe it, but even so, we succeeded in safely capturing the fortress and the city of Sakart.
“A declaration as a neutral city?”
“Correct. Since we will barricade ourselves inside the fortress during wartime, we won’t be able to worry about your side. We will leave the public order to the guards and the administration to you, governor-dono.”
“…” He sighs.
In the governmental office of Sakart, which we occupied without a single loss, I informed the governor that we won’t set up a military government.
That’s because I would rather reinforce the fortress with construction works if I had such spare manpower.
There’s a river flowing south of Sakart, and the fortress’ state wasn’t as bad as we thought either.
Even so, it was necessary to increase its defence capability by working on the repairs and reconstruction as fast as possible.
Furthermore, the name of this city’s governor is Penz. He seemed to have an elusive character.
“The rest concerns the merchants.”
“You mean the goods and food in the warehouses?”
“Yes, if possible, I’d like you to sell them. At market price.”
“At market price?”
The merchants were reluctant.
That’s likely because they are thinking that they will be able to sell above the market price if they wait, given that it’s a time of war now.
“Though I don’t believe that there will be that much of a rise in prices once the supply route between this city and the liberation army has been established.”
Since the nobles, who have territories in the rear, are our allies as well, the deficiency of food should disappear.
Besides, even if they temporarily obtain a profit by selling the food to us at a high price, there’s no point in that if Therese keeps an eye on them later on.
Given that it’s not like we are buying it at a low price like Duke Nürnberg, I strongly hope that they will sell at market price.
“However, we won’t pressure you into it.”
I got the merchants to sell the surplus food at market price with expressions that showed their unwillingness.
“And, I think you already comprehend, but…”
After threatening them that they will get death penalties if they provide information to the rebel army or shelter spies, our military forces that had swollen up to 4,000 people enter the fortress.
The scale of the fortress is large, so the entire army was able to get inside without any issues.
“It would be best if we destroy only the unnecessary parts so that they can be used for the expansion of the city.”
“It looks like they were told to stop such recycling and remodelling works because the fortress might be used in a case of an emergency, according to the emperor’s wish.”
Popek-san, who became the leader of the elderly before I noticed, gave me the details on the circumstances behind the scenes.
“Let’s get quickly started on the work?”
“The average age of the soldiers is high, isn’t it? They work well, but…”
Erw expresses in a whisper, but as a matter of fact, the old soldiers were really very useful.
Although it’s at the level of disputes, all of them possess campaign experience. Since they have been living in rural areas, they are capable of doing various tasks.
At once they voluntarily started to reinforce the walls and fences, which were in the process of breaking down after being neglected for many years, with mortar or managed the prisoners.
“They look to be more useful than me and you, Erw.” (Wendelin)
“I guess we will leave the interior to them.” (Erwin)
Philip let the kingdom’s forces patrol the area and requested the remaining old soldiers to repair the fortress.
Katharina and I set out to a nearby rocky mountain to secure usable building stones.
“Now I got the reason why the city of Sakart wasn’t able to expand.” (Katharina)
Even if the southern river was a plus, the vicinity was dotted with small monster domains, wetland belts and rocky mountains making it probably difficult to expand the city any further.
Of course, it would likely be possible to develop the area if they felt like it, but it seems that it’s something that was neglected after prioritising Alhans.
“It looks like it’s an area that can be reclaimed in a short time if it’s you, Wendelin-san.” (Katharina)
“Guess that’s because there’s no sediment here. On top of not being able to use movement magic while we are on the way to get the stones now, this place is a different country, you know? I will pass on that since it would be a hassle.” (Wendelin)
After collecting the building stones, we strengthen and expand the fortress.
Since the majority of the workers are old men, I pile up the building stones with my magic. Given that the other tasks were carried out by the old soldiers who are used to that kind of work, the work progressed faster than expected.
“Their old man power is awesome!”
Just like in the Japan of my previous life, it looks like there are many lively elderly in this world as well.
“Anyway, we don’t know when the rebel army will attempt to recapture this place. Let’s work while continuing to stay vigilant.”
Since the leaders reached an agreement, we eagerly advance the work in order to finish the fortress’ reinforcement quickly.
However, given that there are many old people, we do it while having proper breaks at fixed intervals.
“Hey, the rebel army isn’t coming.”
One week after we put Sakart’s fortress and our battle formation in order, we couldn’t see the rebel army on the other side of the river for some reason.
Despite continuing a lookout for 24 hours every day, it’s been a huge disappointment.
“Wend, is this really an important base?”
“Going by the map, it is, but…”
The path to the capital is interrupted by the river, but if you consider the direct distance, it’s not that different to the one to Alhans. I explain to Luise while showing the map.
“Rather than that, the city’s governor has come yet again.”
In the direction where Ina was looking, I could see Governor Penz.
I have declared that the military government won’t take a position in the city of Sakart, but since the trade with the south came to an end, he came to complain after a few days. For that reason, I have entrusted the construction work of the fortress to Philip, Christoph and Popek-san, and got stuck with maintaining the road towards the north.
“Earl Baumeister-sama, if we don’t start trading with the north, we will starve to death.” (Penz)
“Understood. I will handle it.” (Wendelin)
A road already exists, but there’s actually a huge wetlands belt north of Sakart.
Since it was a road that bent and twisted to avoid the wetlands, trade with the north was as troublesome as was the detour.
“Seeing that the trade with the south has stopped, we have to trade a lot more with the north. If we don’t hasten the trade with Popek-sama’s alliance of feudal lords, who are in the fortress, we will…” (Penz)
“I suppose it can’t be helped if there’s such a reason.” (Wendelin)
I construct a road that extends directly north from the city of Sakart.
“Why is there a wetlands belt in such a place?” (Wendelin)
“It looks like the water of the river is flowing into that region.” (Katharina)
I have started the construction with Katharina, but there’s no way for us to make something like a road if we don’t handle the wetlands belt one way or the other.
It was necessary to start from making sure that the water of the river won’t flow into the wetlands belt by constructing levee protection and river flood controls first.
We create an embankment and harden the soil at the river, then reinforce it with the stones we gathered.
Next, I fire successive shots of 『Fireball』 into the wetlands belt, forcing the ground to dry quickly.
If a pro-environment group on Earth saw this spectacle, it would likely turn into a huge issue with them screaming 『It’s a destruction of the wetlands’ ecosystem!』.
“That’s not really an elegant method.” (Katharina)
“Are you going to do it with a method that will take a heap of time and labor then, Katharina?” (Wendelin)
“Well then, let’s continue with the construction?” (Katharina)
Katharina starts to forcibly dry out the wetlands with a chain firing of 『Fire Balls』, too.
We only dry the sections, where we will build the road, very carefully, spread out stones there after stripping off the surface soil and complete it with this.
The ground might sink in after a while, but the group from Sakart has to somehow handle that later on. We don’t have any responsibility to go that far for them.
“Ohhh, it’s a far more magnificent road than I expected!” (Penz)
Penz praised us, but what bothers me much more than his praises are the workers digging ditches at both sides of the street.
“We are just raising the road’s level of completion while we are at it.” (Penz)
“While you are at it, eh…?” (Wendelin)
Penz apparently hired the workers personally and has them do construction works.
“Who are they?” (Wendelin)
There are also farmers who are tilling the wetlands that dried to some extent and sowing seeds of assorted grains.
“Given that the reason for this wetlands belt isn’t underground water, we can easily advance the development of a residential district thanks to the river construction work you did, Earl Baumeister-sama. It’s a welcome occasion. However, as I believe that it will take time for the ground to dry out completely, I have told them to cultivate grains after considering the viewpoint of securing food. The moisture will also be absorbed by the crops.” (Penz)
“I see.” (Wendelin)
This governor seems to be unexpectedly knowledgeable about agriculture.
“We won’t trouble you with this, Earl Baumeister-sama. After all, it’s something we are doing for our own convenience.” (Penz)
“…” I sigh.
Situations like this took place. In around one week, we completed a stone-paved road continuing towards the north.
“… So, what’s your business today?”
This time he apparently wants to request an adjustment of the road to the west which is pointlessly detouring because of a wetlands belt.
“Earl Baumeister-sama, it would strengthen the connection to Alhans which lies in the west, and also serve as line applying pressure on the capital, right?” (Penz)
“I can’t answer you since it would touch on military secrets”, is what I try to tell him, but even a child would understand our strategic objective if it had a bit of knowledge.
There’s no way for Penz to not have noticed it.
“Yes, I certainly understand. Earl Baumeister-sama, you are the commander, who has been entrusted with the military forces in this area, after all. I’m quite aware that you are keen on concealing military information.” (Penz)
Calling me the commander of this area is probably an exaggeration.
The main force is the large army for capturing Alhans, and we are treated as something like a flying squadron.
Even us coming to the city of Sakart was only due to Popek-san’s suggestion.
“In short, you are asking me to also build a road leading straight towards the west?”
“In truth, the city’s residents are hoping earnestly for the development of the western side… The trade with the south was likely severed. Since a nice road was completed in the north thanks to you, Earl Baumeister-sama, the trade will probably improve as well, but…” (Penz)
“Yeah, yeah, west it is then.”
“If trading with Alhans is accelerated, it will also raise the strategic value of this city, right?”
“Wendelin-san, we are discreetly taken advantage of, aren’t we?” (Katharina)
“Katharina, don’t voice it out.” (Wendelin)
Once again I take along Katharina and we head to the west of the city.
“Now I understand the reason why he pushed the work on us.” (Katharina)
On top of the city’s west being a hilly area, rocky hills protrude out of the ground all over, like spikes, and there didn’t exist even one square meter of flat terrain.
“I suppose it will be easier than the wetlands…” (Wendelin)
Katharina and I expand the road to the west while levelling the ground.
We used the soil, which was left over after whittling down the hills, for the western embankment of the river and strengthened it with stones we procured from the protruding rocks. Also, as there’s demand for building stones in the city, merchants bought some of them.
“The second construction stage of the fortress?”
“Because the number of people grew.”
Right after we completed the northern road, the northern lords, who didn’t send their troops to the liberation army, apparently dispatched their soldiers to us. In addition, it seems like volunteer soldiers from the city of Sakart joined us as well.
“Volunteer soldiers? Isn’t that unwise?” (Wendelin)
I thought that it would be a bad idea if the city of Sakart announces its neutrality during a battle and then sends soldiers over to our side.
“That’s why they are called volunteer soldiers. Since they have applied by themselves, it’s unrelated to the city. That’s the stance they will adopt.”
Because of those circumstances, Christoph accepted them and reported to me after the fact.
“Given that their handling will be troublesome, they will participate in the defensive battle if the rebel army comes to attack this place. However, after we move on, they will be reorganised as a defensive force protecting this place. It’s the same for the elderly, too.”
The old soldiers are certainly more useful than expected, but we can’t use them in the decisive battle against Duke Nürnberg’s elites. Even they shouldn’t do anything reckless since they have obtained plenty of achievements on this occasion.
“If Therese dispatches a military official, they will entrust the defence of this place to that person and let them give the commands.”
“Before that, you have been splendidly used by the governor of this city, Earl Baumeister, but please let me use you for this place just as much. It’s for the sake of our safety.” (Popek)
“Damn! I’m perfectly aware of that myself!” (Wendelin)
Such being the case, Katharina and I established a magnificent stone-paved road in the west of the city within a week.
As expected we haven’t completely constructed it up to Alhans, but we should have decreased the unnecessary detours and shortened the distance greatly.
In addition, there’s a large plain spreading in the west of the city. The river bank stretches out to the west as well. Penz ordered carpenters to build a residential district at a place adjoining to the city that had its ground evened.
“The creation of a residential district?”
“Most recently the shortage of houses has become a problem in this city. We were troubled as there was no place either, so your help was very appreciated.” (Penz)
Penz delightfully told us that it’s thanks to Katharina’s and mine construction work.
The carpenters immediately started on their work.
By the way, the stones we sold after quarrying them became the main materials for the houses.
“As a token of appreciation, I have sent volunteers to the fortress since I have been told about the fortress’ expansion work by Philip-sama and Christoph-sama.” (Penz)
I have been freely used by Penz without even being told about that by Christoph, but thanks to that I could get them to sell me food at a fair price. The daily wages of the labourers are also covered by the city.
I’m not involved in the governing and labor either, so I probably should continue the construction work through magic for the sake of both sides.
“Now that it has come to this, I will go at it steadily—!” (Wendelin)
“Dear, please don’t force yourself too much, okay?” (Elise)
“How kind of you, Elise. But since it’s not a battle, it’s no big deal at all.” (Wendelin)
After the north and west, the next is the eastern part of the city.
This direction also had bad terrain. It’s a region with tall rocks, up to heights of 20 meters, protruding out of the ground in large quantities that continued until it clashed against the river. I forcibly whittled these down with magic and level the ground. Afterwards, we established a road and constructed a riverbank on the eastern side.
For some reason, the rebel army hasn’t come attacking to retake the place in the month it took to finish all of these works.
Because of that, the construction works completely finished as planned.
The sounds of construction hammers were resounding in the city of Sakart that became opened up on three sides. Many people from the surrounding territories that submitted to the liberation army gathered to work at the house constructions and to trade.
And around that time, the latest news, which was regularly sent by Therese, reached us.
『Alhans is in the middle of besiegement. Wait at that city of Sakart for a while.』 (Therese)
They are not Duke Nürnberg’s proteges, but since around 20,000 soldiers of the rebel army are holing up in Alhans, she’s apparently trying to force them to surrender by besieging them. However, a detached force formed by Duke Nürnberg has started to meddle with the liberation army during the siege. Because they are obviously stalling for time, Therese wrote in her letter that she will participate in the siege battle of Alhans while leading the reinforcements.
『As Duke Nürnberg is too fixated on this side, he won’t be able to meddle with thee, Wendelin. Make sure not to get careless. I entrust the strengthening of Sakart to thee.』 (Therese)
“Strengthening, eh? What would be the best to do here?”
“Haven’t we already done that?”
“Indeed, we have.”
“Earl Baumeister-dono, the governor-dono has come to request the demolition of the former lower city.”
“That shitty governor. I’m pretty sure his real intention is to use me until I drop!” (Wendelin)
I’m enraged on the surface, but accepting his request is also connected to my own safety. Once I consider it very carefully, it’s not that different from what I’ve done when I was in Baumeister Earldom.
Since I’m leaving the management of the nobles and the army to Philip, Christoph and Popek-san, there’s nothing for me to do except to eat, take baths and flirt around with my wives.
“The townsfolk is thankful and greatly cooperates with us. The fortress’ expansion and the establishment of a river wharf have been finished, too. Our troops increased to 6,000 soldiers. We have met the expectations of Her Excellency Duchess Philip. Isn’t that great? We will be able to receive plenty of rewards afterwards.”
Philip and the others are probably happy about that, but I just want to quickly return to Baumeister Earldom.
“By the way, where’s Erw?”
I ask Philip about Erw’s whereabouts.
Nowadays he had reached the point of being able to lead the troops reliably while getting Haruka’s assistance.
“That guy is off-duty today. He went on a date in the city with Haruka-jou.”
“Whaaat! That Erw did!”
Even though others are working on construction untiringly every day, he goes on a date with his fiancée?
I think that’s an unforgivable offence.
“A wife accompanying you at the construction work and at night you are making out with your wives. I think you are definitely the unforgivable one here, Earl Baumeister.”
“I agree with nii-san’s opinion.” (Christoph)
“It’s to the extent of making one jealous, isn’t it? If I were a lot younger, I would probably put in some effort as well.” (Popek)
I ended up at a loss for words after being told that by Philip, Christoph and Popek.
One week after that, we received the message that Alhans’ rebel army has finally surrendered.
We have secured a line connecting Alhans and Sakart. Afterwards, it resulted in us successfully having the rear fall into the liberation army’s sphere of influence, but once Alhans’ merchants restarted their business and came to Sakart, all of them had flabbergasted expressions.
“The western road is straight and paved with stones. The city’s expansion has made progress! How come!?”
“The reason is simple. It’s because I was in charge of the construction work and Sakart’s governor’s handling of his workers is really rough.”
The governor Penz is an imperial bureaucrat. As such he will likely do anything if it’s for the sake of making Sakart, where he holds a hereditary governor post, prosper no matter whether the rebel army or the liberation army wins.
“Dear, you are a hardworking one, aren’t you?” (Elise)
“Yeah, I did my best in someone else’s country.”
While listening to the astonished voices of the merchants, my wives and I finally took a holiday and set out to go shopping.