And then, on the day of the sham battle set by the archduchess.
Lord Baltan’s private army had already lined up in rows after having sorted out various preparations at the specified location. It was decided that Mayria would witness the outcome of the event as the archduchess’ representative. She and a group of guards take up position.
But Renya’s unit didn’t show up.
The first afternoon bell has already stopped ringing, and even more time has passed since then.
The sky is blue and cloudless. The afternoon sun is brightly shining down on the plain.
The military forces of Lord Baltan have been boosted by a further 100 cavalrymen and 100 archers in comparison to the number Lord Baltan had prepared the other day, totalling to a considerable scale of 900 soldiers.
When it comes to such large number of troops, even Lord Baltan can’t completely pay for it by himself.
No matter how you look at it, it’s plain as day that several other nobles are backing Lord Baltan.
The opinion that it might not be very adult-like, whatever the circumstances might be, to confront Renya’s group with a corps, composed of 900 soldiers of infantry, archers, light cavalry and even heavy cavalry split into units of 100 soldiers, was brought up from all around up to the appointed day, but Lord Baltan rejected those views with the single remark,
“Nowhere in the rules is it written that the number of units has to be the same.” (Baltan)
Since the rules only set the date and location, there were quite a few people who believed that he should read the mood in such situation, but as one would expect, there was no one that would point that out just to brave the danger of buying the malevolence of a duke.
Even more time has passed.
Lord Baltan, who has already mounted his horse, tightly grasped the reins and restlessly changed the position of his horse, unable to hide his displeasure.
The soldiers, who are being kept waiting, didn’t show as much of a blatant behaviour as their lord, but nonetheless, they are unsettled which leads them to hit the ground with the butt end of their spear or repeatedly rock their bodies.
A slightly tall pedestal-like structure had been built in order to overlook the place set as battlefield for the sham battle of the soldiers of Trident Principality. Mayria, who sat on a chair that had been installed on that pedestal, looks at Rona, who is in charge of the guards nearby, unable to comprehend the current state.
Because Rona serves as Mayria’s guard today, she’s clad in her combat gear with her mace hanging at her waist, and a chest protector and tekkou being equipped atop her usual priestess’ garb.
Rona sighs deeply, covers her face with both hands and hangs her head.
“Yes, Mayria-sama?” (Rona)
“Do you know what has happened?” (Mayria)
“Yes, more or less.” (Rona)
Rona lowered her hands and lifted her head. Rona’s expression was that of someone who had completely given up on something.
Mayria tries to question Rona with what’s on her mind unable to bear it any longer.
“Don’t tell me that Renya escaped!?” (Mayria)
“Putting aside Renya, the soldiers won’t try to escape. Even if they stand us up here, they are obliged to remain as soldiers of the army.” (Rona)
“Just what’s going on then?” (Mayria)
“I vaguely suspected that he would try to pull something, but…” (Rona)
After one more sigh, Rona starts to talk,
“After I showed the letter to Renya, he looked as if he was pondering about various things. The place had been clearly specified, but as for the time, it had been set to be < after the first afternoon bell chimes >.” (Rona)
“Yeah, so?” (Mayria)
“If you excuse me splitting hairs here, but you can say that no matter when he arrives, it will always be after the first afternoon bell as long as it’s before tomorrow’s first morning bell.” (Rona)
Mayria’s face that had a somewhat cool-headed expression until then turned into something that felt somewhat idiotic and flabbergasted.
In the eyes of those who knew her, the instances of Mayria showing such an expression were extremely rare, but without even the composure to enjoy that rare occasion, Rona continues,
“Furthermore, there’s no clear definition of a penalty in case he is late. This means he can unreasonably push his way through with a simple apology even if he’s that late.” (Rona)
“Isn’t that equivalent to disrespecting Her Majesty the Archduchess? I heard that he had been informed of the place and time in Her Majesty’s letter.”
Seemingly in exchange for Mayria who was at a loss for words, one of the guards opens his mouth.
Rona looked at the soldiers who spoke up, and shook her head left and right, albeit slowly.
“Certainly, he had been notified through a letter by Her Majesty, but… this sham battle is something carried out upon the demand of the noble’s camp. It doesn’t take place under the name of Her Majesty the Archduchess.” (Rona)
“Ultimately, what does that mean, Rona-dono?”
Due to the soldier urging her to answer, Rona thought about how to put it into words and decided that it would be better to tell the truth rather than blanching her words over and replied,
“In the worst case it just means that it’s possible for him to give up at the last moment.” (Rona)
“Because there hasn’t been a penalty clearly stated in case he does?” (Mayria)
Rona nods at Mayria’s question with a sullen expression.
This is something unthinkable for knights and soldiers.
As they are basically affiliated with the country, they consider it as only natural to obey the archduchess and the nobles.
However, Renya is an adventurer and not someone subject to the country.
Of course he’s not a soldier or a knight either.
Even if he were to be branded as an「incompetent trainer」at this point, for argument’s sake, Renya isn’t bound to any place in particular.
“Does Renya-san plan to not come?” (Mayria)
“No, I don’t think that will happen.” (Rona)
Rona clearly denied Mayria’s question at once.
Due to that decisive denial, Mayria wonders why Rona can state it that distinctively.
“Renya said that he will take part in the sham battle because he promised to do so.” (Rona)
“At this point I will properly tell you in advance”, Rona spoke emphatically. “No matter how much quibbling he might do, seeing that he brought up the word promise, I’m pretty sure that he will keep it.”
Even if he were to delay things evasively while using various excuses, it would likely be Mayria who would get troubled the most if Renya really ran away.
Renya should be fully aware of that as well, Rona believes and also hopes, he’ll probably make sure not to cross that line.
In the unlikely event that he doesn’t…
Rona lightly grasps the handle of the mace hanging at her waist.
“I will clobber him even if I can’t win…” (Rona)
“Huh? Did you say something?” (Mayria)
“No, it’s nothing.” (Rona)
While Rona settles into a somewhat grim determination, even more time passes, and just at the time when the sun was going down and the sunlight’s color gradually started to change, Renya’s group finally showed up in a line.
Behind Renya, who walks sluggishly with an expression making it apparent that he isn’t very eager about this, is Shion who follows while donning a somewhat apologetic expression.
Renya is in his usual fully black attire and the soldiers wear the army’s equipment.
Only Shion had now returned to her usually worn outfit despite putting on the army’s gear during the training.
After making an appearance, they spend plenty of time until taking up their assigned position, and make the surroundings impatient by slowly getting into formation.
At that time Lord Baltan’s patience had gone beyond its limit, and even the soldiers, who followed him, were seething in anger after thoroughly having been forced to wait.
Mayria continues sitting on the seat that had been prepared for her with an expression as if she had somewhat given up, whereas Rona has been revising her thoughts towards Lord Baltan during the time she was made to wait.
If it was one of the other nobles with low patience, they would have probably started talking about winning by default because Renya didn’t turn up a long time ago.
Even if they obtained a win by default in a sham battle, it’s meaningless, but it would be expectable for them to loudly clamor Renya being completely incompetent while using the default win as shield.
And yet, Lord Baltan didn’t even try hiding his expression and behaviour full of displeasure, but he still waited for Renya to arrive.
That Lord Baltan looked at Renya’s face, drew out the longsword, which was affixed to his waist, alongside the scabbard, unsheathed the sword, thrust it in Renya’s direction and shouted while throwing the scabbard on the ground,
“You are late! To make a noble like me wait for so long, what insolence!” (Baltan)
Being told that, Renya pointed at the scabbard that was tossed on the ground and was about to say something, but after pondering it over for a short while, he shrugged his shoulders and remained silent.
Later, when Rona asked Renya what he tried to say at that time, she was told a story about a master swordsman in Renya’s former world. That swordsman drew his katana and threw away the scabbard right after the opponent, who had been very late, appeared far beyond the promised time they had set up during a meeting. Due to getting provoked by that, the swordsman lost in the end and was killed.
He said that he tried to imitate that, but since he didn’t remember the crucial reason why the swordsman lost after throwing away the scabbard, he stopped.
Back to the topic; finally both sides had gathered.
Mayria, who apparently pulled herself together somehow, stood up and shouted after raising one hand,
“Since both sides have assembled, the sham battle will commence from now on!” (Mayria)
“I will have you atone for the sin of mocking me this far! I will change you bastards into rust on this sword!” (Baltan)
“No, it’s a sham battle, you know? So changing us into rust is not allowed, right?” (Renya)
Renya calmly retorts Lord Baltan’s loud declaration.
Both side’s positions were reasonably far apart from each other, but with only them speaking, even Renya’s voice, which he hadn’t even strained that much, was audible due to carrying awfully well.
Lord Baltan’s face clearly blushes, causing Renya to needlessly worry whether Lord Baltan won’t end up fainting our of excitement before the battle.
“Show our might to that lowly bastard that was born in some ditch! For victory!”
In reply to Lord Baltan, the soldiers of the noble camp thrust their weapons into the sky and cheer in a chorus.
Next to Renya, who is blankly staring at the situation, Keith whispers into his ear,
“Aren’t we going to do something like that as well?” (Keith)
“Who’s going to take the lead?” (Renya)
“Instructor-dono, of course that will be you, no?” (Keith)
“… Well, you know, I’m bad at such things.” (Renya)
“As this sort of stuff is for motivation, all that matters is to put your spirit into it.” (Keith)
Being urged forward by Keith who pushes Renya’s back while laughing, Renya takes a step forward, unsheathes his katana and turns around in the direction of Keith and the other soldiers.
“Gentlemen, you are soldiers of the national army of Trident Principality, so let me ask you,” Renya filled his voice with power while showing a serious expression. He raised his voice into a shout, making it spread across the battlefield well.
“What is your duty?” (Renya)
“It is to protect the people of this country against any hostile elements with our lives on the line, instructor-dono!”
After letting his look fleetingly wander towards Keith who answered as if acting as representative for the soldiers, Renya continues.
“Then, although it might be a sham battle, just who are the ones standing in front of us right now in this place?” (Renya)
The soldiers all together answered Renya, who pointed his thumb over his shoulder in Lord Baltan’s direction,
“”””The enemy, instructor-dono!””””
“How do you handle enemies?” (Renya)
“”””We simply cut them down!””””
“In that case, now and here, show me just that.” (Renya)
Turning his back on the soldiers, Renya faces Lord Baltan’s group and yells,
“Get them!” (Renya)
“Battle start!!” (Mayria)
The roars of the soldiers on Renya’s side reverberate as if trying to drown out Mayria’s announcement.
The soldiers were able to thoroughly focus on training their legs and loins on the parade ground, which was changed into having an extremely bad footing, and in the Miasma Forest, which has bad footing to begin with. They begin charging in defiance of the difference of numbers.
Apparently overwhelmed by their spirit and momentum, Lord Baltan was late in giving his orders.
People appearing to be aides call out to Lord Baltan, who doesn’t move as if frozen while having cramps on his face, in panic. Lord Baltan, who came to his senses thereupon, finally was about to order the heavy cavalry to charge, but at that time the soldiers of Renya’s side had already approached right in front of the private army.
A cavalry is certainly a powerful unit in comparison to infantry, but its power mainly depends on its mobility.
One could say the the crux of their combat power especially lies in the charge at the start of a battle.
However, once the distance has been shortened because the delay in orders, a charge has become impossible.
That’s equal to cutting down the majority of the cavalry’s combat ability.
“The heavy cavalry will form a defensive formation! The infantry will assist! The light cavalry will take a detour!” (Baltan)
Perceiving in an instant that the meaning in having them charge was gone, Lord Baltan immediately changes his strategy.
He decided to use the heavy cavalry, which should have originally charged the opponent to throw their formation into disorder with its mass and power, as defensive shield.
The heavy cavalry forms a line side-by-side to meet the enemy after stopping the attacking soldiers of Renya’s side.
In other words, they will attack the enemy’s flank with the light cavalry that made a detour after the heavy cavalry kills the momentum of the enemy’s charge with their heavy armors.
Moreover, Lord Baltan has the archers in the rear fall back.
Archery will be mostly useless once it turned into a melee.
“Archers, discard your bows and draw your swords!”
If they are going to serve no purpose, it will be better to give up on it from the start and make use of them as infantry.
The weapon they carry is a small sword. In contrast to the infantry, the archers only possess light equipment, but to begin with, it’s a private army which has an overwhelming predominance with its numerical superiority compared to Renya and the others.
A slight decrease in combat power doesn’t matter, Lord Baltan decided.
On the other hand, Renya’s soldiers don’t have the longswords which are the standard equipment of the army’s soldiers, although Renya has his katana with him just as usual.
The other day Renya slipped through the lineup of Lord Baltan’s troops, but he was shrewd enough to remember to take a look at Lord Baltan’s battle array.
The heavy cavalry he saw then was something that made even Renya feel they will be a troublesome opponent, won’t they?
Once he considered them to be troublesome, the necessity to set up countermeasures against them was the logical conclusion.
As result of pondering about various methods, Renya decided to change the weapons used by the soldiers from longswords to metal staffs.
Since it’s a sham battle, actively using attacks that might kill the opponent is not allowed.
Moreover, weapons like normal longswords are extremely unlikely to be helpful against that heavy cavalry.
Wouldn’t it be best to prevent them being put to use then? That’s the conclusion he reached.
The metal staffs that were provided by Renya as substitutes have almost the same length as the longswords used by the soldiers. A grip has been applied to the handle so that the soldiers can grab them properly, and a sword guard so that they can stop the blows of an opponent’s sword has been added as well.
If it’s blunt weapons, something along the lines of maces would have been fine to provide as well, but even if Renya’s smithing skills were fairly high, creating maces for 100 people in a little less than three days was unreasonable.
In comparison to that, the staffs had been easy to make since they are really nothing more but simple metal rod.
Given that it was at the level of creating a grip and and a guard as well as twining a leather strap around the handle, it didn’t take that much time.
Having a thickness allowing to grasp it with one hand, the metal staffs had been produced while only pursuing strength.
Its appearance is very boorish, but as for its power,
Shion starts to hit a heavy cavalryman that had been converted into a shield while yelling out her fighting spirit.
It was impossible for the blow, which she hammered in while putting the power of her whole body behind it, to reach the rider, but she hits the jaw of the horse ridden by the rider.
That one strike, which had doubtlessly powered up in comparison to before the training, throws up the head of the horse that has been protected by armor making it look up to the sky, and the next sideway-sweep snapped the horse’s head into the direction it was hit in a right angle.
The horse, which had its brain and head jolted by the two-attack-combo, crumbles on the spot while foaming from its mouth as it hovers between life and death.
Of course the rider on its back would originally jump off in order to avoid being dragged into the horse’s ongoing collapse, but because of the weight of the armor cladding the heavy cavalryman’s body, he’s not in a situation where can get off that easily.
He drops the lance, which he held in a hand, lets go of the reins and tries to dismount the horse, but not being in time, he becomes completely helpless before long when his leg is caught between the ground and the horse’s body that falls down as is.
The stuck leg didn’t seem to have been crushed thanks to the armor, but in front of the rider, who is about reach a point where he can move after drawing out his leg somehow, stands Shion with a smile plastered all over her face as she shouldered the metal staff.
“Ready, set, go!” (Shion)
The miserable scream of the victim mingles with the clanking sound as metal is hit by metal.
Shion continued to hit the armor with all her power, and around the time when the screams of the victim completely ceased, she wiped away her sweat and exhaled deeply.
“Shion-sama, haven’t you spent a bit too much time on that?” (Keith)
Keith cautions her while likewise successively knocking down heavy cavalrymen and the infantrymen who acted as their support.
Generally speaking, with the situation of the opponent’s side having an overwhelming advantage in numbers, spending too much time on a single enemy included the danger of getting surrounded.
Shion meekly nods.
“You are right. Next time I will take them out a lot faster.” (Shion)
“That’s the way to go. There’s still much, much more prey left.” (Keith)
An infantryman of the noble’s camp, who was hit at the side of his abdomen with the staff that was fully swung by a soldier, rolls around like a cartwheel without even raising a scream.
The spot, which was hit at the flank of the soldier, who stopped after ten odd revolutions, was dented in and the soldier himself kept twitching repeatedly while fainted.
The strike of yet another soldier, which was released as if scooping up, catches the chin of a heavy cavalryman and after making him do a backward somersault, the rider smashes on the ground with a squishy sound while facing upside-down.
I’m pretty sure that the white broken pieces, which were were sent flying upwards higher than his body, were broken teeth, Renya judges while observing the battlefield as he carried the katana in his hand.
With that, even if his life gets saved, his chin has been smashed into pieces. Although it’s not completely gone, I think that he won’t be able to return to a normal life, Renya thought.
He felt sympathetic, but if he’s asked “So what will you do about it?”, it won’t amount to anything except him simply watching.
As for accidents during training, he only thinks I guess such things happen as well.
The cavalry, which took a detour trying to hit the flank of Renya’s unit, immediately realized that they didn’t make it in time.
Even if they tried to hit the flank, all of Renya’s unit had already plunged into the ranks of the heavy cavalry and infantry, and the situation had developed into a melee.
If the cavalry thrust in there, assuming that they would be able to deliver a blow to Renya’s unit, it’s very likely that they would simultaneously cause damage to the heavy cavalry, which has been routed, and their own army’s infantry.
A part of Renya’s unit which noticed the cavalry group that stopped moving, starts to attack with their staffs at hand.
At once screams and sounds of metal hitting flesh and bone arise.
Being thrown to the ground alongside their knocked down horses, the riders are showered with blows by the staffs without being allowed to stand up.
Even those who were lucky enough to not being rolled up by their horses collapsing, are one after the other silenced in two different way; being knocked upwards or downwards.
While watching one soldier and then another of the opposing side lose without even raising any screams, Renya calmly considered,
I might have made a mistake in the choice of weapons.