Chapter 148 – Thriller

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Behind the mounted Nelgal the soldiers of Orsongrande were replaced by those of Horant before anyone really noticed. They, including many magic soldiers as well, are firmly staring at their fellow countrymen in front.
Ahead of their gazes was also the figure of Tannin who was was waiting and watching the situation on horseback.

“I give up, that’s too much.” (Tannin)

Tannin smiled bitterly at himself having miscalculated.
Nelgal was probably given a permit to depart the country signed by the former king Suprangel as something that proves his identity, but I didn’t think that a person, who opposes Kuzemu with only that much, will be able to rally such numbers.

“Good grief, I expected that uncle has aspects where he lacks in popularity, but… should I praise Nelgal’s side on top of that? He brought along a considerable number of soldiers.” (Tannin)

Although he is playing the fool, the sweat doesn’t stop flowing down his cheeks.
According to Tannin’s analysis, the soldiers directly commanded by Nelgal, who are currently confronting the 3.000 soldiers strong side of Kuzemu, are exceeding 2.000 in numbers. The rest of the soldiers, who were at the border, and most of the military forces lent by almost all nobles of Horant, who swore their allegiance to Nelgal, along the road to the capital.
The nobles’ thoughts are simple. Nelgal, who has a friendly relation to Orsongrande, is superior due to his economical future prospects. Of course, that also includes the meaning that they don’t want to fight with Orsongrande.
Naturally they haven’t explained it as anything but a simple battle for justice to the soldiers.

“If you are intelligent soldiers of Horant, you will be able to judge which side is just! You would know about me and you would choose to fight together with me! Me being here is proof of this. It’s evidence of me standing here as legal successor!” (Nelgal)

Nelgal’s voice can be even heard by Tannin.
Of course that speech is also heard by those in the surroundings. Their looks, which are from time to time examining each other uneasily, are gloomy.

“This will be harsh.” (Tannin)

Tannin’s small mutter wasn’t heard by anyone, for good or bad.

“I will look at the situation for a bit. Once I give the signal, ((send)) those gross ((things)) to the front line… no, release them behind the front row.” (Tannin)

The soldier, who heard the order, gives his opinion to Tannin in panic.

“Please wait. In that case the soldiers in the front row will end up getting dragged into it.”

“It’s what I decided.” (Tannin)

“However…”

“Those are uncontrollable things anyway. Besides, the lot in the front row will betray us no matter what.” (Tannin)

“Well, watch it”, while glaring at the state of the soldiers who are in his and Nelgal’s surroundings, Tannin snorted atop the horseback.

◆◆◆

With people appearing in front of their eyes whom they obviously know as they are soldiers from the same country, the soldiers of Tannin’s side, and especially the group in the front row, were confused.

“Those are, without a doubt, soldiers from Horant, aren’t they?”

“But, the order is…”

“The king is higher ranked than the prime minister, right!?”

“Ain’t it different since he still ain’t the king?”

With several of them exchanging words and letting their opinions freely adrift, they wait for an answer by someone. They are excellent soldiers thus they won’t make a judgement by themselves.

“As someone who will become king.” (Nelgal)

Nelgal’s words incite them.

“If you open the way, I shall treat you as my people. However, if you fall as low as being underlings of someone who monopolizes our state, there’s no way I can forgive you.” (Nelgal)

However, by no means is it easy.

“Though I don’t wish for battle, I will never hesitate to fight for the sake of guiding Horant towards being a righteous country!” (Nelgal)

The spears from Tannin’s side stopped and the magic barrier was released.
When Nelgal slowly advances his horse, his military forces advance as well.
The soldiers, who are bewildered and puzzled, retreated while breaking the ranks due to his pressure.

◆◆◆

The things, which Tannin “transported” from the capital, were creatures which stopped being human.
They were even hidden from Suprangel. Kuzemu took over the research, which was ordered by the dead Crown Prince Veldore, and brought them even to a state where they can be used albeit being incomplete.
Apparently Veldore planned to apply this to all regular soldiers in the event this research was successful.
That research was called “Immortal Soldiers Project” at the time when Veldore was still alive.

“It’s Tannin-sama’s order. Prepare their release.”

“… Is that really alright?”

A soldier of the carriage, which transports… no, quarantines the immortal soldiers, knows about the carriage’s contents and therefore asks in return with a frightened expression.

“You are still better of. You know the timing to run away. But…”

The soldier, who conveyed the order, made a twisted face while watching his allies who are confused at the close vicinity of the front line. He was easily able to imagine the outcome once the immortal soldiers were released.

“It’s still only an order to prepare them. That doesn’t mean it was decided to release them at all.”

“That’s mere consolation”, anyone could comprehend that.

◆◆◆

“I-I will stop! Do you know where I should go!?”

A single soldier, unable to endure Nelgal’s pressure, discarded his weapon.

“I-In that case I will quit as well!”

Once they lost all restraints, weapons are tossed away one after the other by the soldiers at the front.

“Wait! Deserting is a heavy crime!”

Once people, who leave the ranks towards outside the highway, start appearing one after another, the commanding officer orders all soldiers to return in panic, but even if there are those who are perplexed by his voice, there’s only few who abide.

“It’s much better than treason!”

When someone yells that, the surroundings agree to it and approving voices spread like a ripple on the water.
By now even Nelgal has stopped his advance and is watching the situation.

“… Even if they don’t become our allies, it will be fine as long as ((their ranks)) collapse like this.” (Nelgal)

At the preparatory meeting with Imeraria, she approved of Nelgal’s speech and consented to the soldiers accompanying him. They would head for the capital by passing through while being thoroughly cautious as long as they don’t become hindrances by not obeying.
If it seemed that a part of them would attack, it would deliver a considerable shock.
The attacks of Fokalore soldiers, who came into contact with the enemy first, were completely irregular, but Nelgal feels relieved in his mind as he was able to develop the situation according to his hypothesis.
Even now the chaos is lasting, but with the state of files and ranks apparently already gone, the soldiers, who escape, are gradually increasing. If it goes on like that, the front line will lose its function as army. Once that happens, any general, if they are decent, will likely return to the capital to retreat for a moment.
However, Nelgal saw a single matter that bothered him. On the other side of the enemy’s front line, which began to crumble, there was a strange, square carriage.
Nelgal has no recollections of a carriage that had such a shape. He pondered whether it might be a box-shaped carriage which was made for someone in the higher governmental service, but considering that no window can be found, even not a small one to degree of being pitiful.
It’s a critical moment, Nelgal was overly concerned. However, even so he won’t understand something he can’t see. He won’t see the box’ contents unless he doesn’t try to open it.

☺☻☺

“Huh?”

Mingling with Nelgal’s soldiers who have fortified the front line, several soldiers of Fokalore have taken up position in a part of the ranks and Alyssa was there as their commander as well. It turned into such situation once they ended up being pushed out at the time when suddenly a great number of allied soldiers of Horant headed to the front.
At the preparatory meeting it was originally decided that Fokalore’s and Orsongrande’s soldiers would yield their spot once Horant’s soldiers head to the front, but Alyssa and only around 20 soldiers have remained in order to grasp the state of affairs.

“Did you see anything, Director?”

The soldier, who gave Alyssa, who said that she can’t see well as there are many adults, a shoulder ride, asks with a smile while being watched with resentful eyes by his colleagues in the vicinity.

“The other side has been mixed up, but there’s some large carriage.” (Alyssa)

“Carriage? Has the son of a noble come here?”

“It’s not that gaudy. How to call it? It looks just like a big box.” (Alyssa)

While watching the other side through a pipe made with both hands, once Alyssa tilted her head to the side, the door attached to that box was opened.

“Ueh…” (Alyssa)

Seeing the things that came out, Alyssa grimaced while extending her tongue out.
With far-sightedness soldiers, who wore a simple armour, could be seen at first. They weren’t tall or muscular but rather thin.
Their bizarreness was visible on their faces which could be observed beneath their smooth helmets.

“What, are those…?” (Alyssa)

The nose bridges are low as if they were chipped off, the eyelids dangled and drool was constantly spilling from in-between the violet lips. Though it’s insane on a first glance, their faces have violet and darkish specks all over. Alyssa didn’t know but, it was the post-mortem lividity of people who died by poison and similar.
Their expressions are flat as if caved in and they are merely absent-minded.

“I have seen those somewhere… ah!” (Alyssa)

What Alyssa recalled was the large number of corpses she saw in the town of Vichy called Rhone. Corpses of those who were killed while being expressionless and corpses which had decayed slowly.
Hitting the head of the soldier in front of her eyes with a *tap tap*, Alyssa descended from atop his shoulders in a hurry and grandly vomited right at the spot.

“D-Director?”

“Are you alright? Water, here you go!”

The soldiers, who have surrounded Alyssa in panic, offer towels and water bottles to her but Alyssa refuses while spiting out.

“Peh, peh… I-I’m fine. Rather than that…” (Alyssa)

◆◆◆

“Gyaaah!”

“S-Stop it!”

◆◆◆

The instant Alyssa tried to give some instructions, screams came from the enemy’s side.
The immortal soldiers began to attack the soldiers on Kuzemu’s side, which were nearby, first and not their enemy.
Don’t they possess swords? Recklessly swinging blades which were installed at the gauntlets on both their hands, they are biting and clinging at those who were close to them.
In order to save their captured comrades, the other soldiers cut at the arms and backs of the immortal soldiers, but let alone separating them, the immortal soldiers didn’t even react.

“Aah…”

Once a soldier, who lost a great amount of blood after being bitten into the neck, used up all his strength, the immortal soldiers’ target shifted to another soldier who is still standing or walking.

◆◆◆

“What are those…?”

Due to the tragedy being unfolded in front of their eyes, Nelgal’s surroundings were simply having their breath taken away while not knowing how to deal with the situation. Alyssa arrived there after pushing her way through, or rather jumping over the soldiers guarding Nelgal.

“A-Alyssa-san?” (Nelgal)

“Pull back the soldiers right away! Those are dangerous!” (Alyssa)

Without waiting for his reply, Alyssa grabbed the bit of the horse with Nelgal on it and skilfully changed its direction. Jumping on the horse behind Nelgal, she began to make the horse gallop by lightly striking its rear.

“What has happened? It looked to me as if the soldiers on the other side are killing each other…” (Nelgal)

“Though it’s simple to explain since not much time has passed, it’s Horant’s drugs or magic tools? I saw people who didn’t know pain or fear. And it’s the same with them.” (Alyssa)

Once they arrived in front of the platform wagon with Imeraria on it, Alyssa jumped off the horse and Nelgal stopped the horse by pulling its reins in panic.

“What happened? It looks like the other side is in an uproar, but…” (Imeraria)

“Ask Nelgal for an explanation!” (Alyssa)

Due to Alyssa running away towards the location, where Fokalore’s soldiers have gathered, while saying that over her shoulder, Orsongrande’s soldier turned angry looks at her, but Imeraria herself doesn’t care about that at the moment.

“Oh. Horant’s hidden ace made its appearance, didn’t it?” (Hifumi)

Hifumi, who heard the conversation, runs off as if being fired off by the platform wagon the minute he stands up and Origa chases after him in silence.
Even while Viine was perplexed by the sudden event, she started to pursue Hifumi after sending a fleeting glance to Puuse.

“Err…” (Puuse)

“I believe it will be fine if you take a rest here. Won’t you drink some tea as well?” (Imeraria)

Imeraria smiled at the wavering Puuse.

“Princess-sama, you are quite calm about it.” (Puuse)

“I got used to it already.” (Imeraria)

Ordering for black tea to be prepared, Imeraria turned her look towards the front line once again.

“Besides, now is still not the time for me to make my move.” (Imeraria)

Imeraria smiled while offering sweets.

“Let’s leave the fighting scenes to those liking them. What a lady flourishes at is a suitable scene that uses more wit.” (Imeraria)

“I see.” (Puuse)

Due to Imeraria’s way of talking like an upper class lady, Puuse opened her mouth in admiration. Going by appearance, she has a sweet, obedient character, but her lifestyle in the wilderness of basically spending time with gathering within the forest is close to that of beastmen.

“… Huh? But, the other day you mounted a horse and flew towards the battlefield…” (Sabnak)

“Sabnak-san.” (Imeraria)

Glaring at Sabnak who has remembered something unnecessary, Imeraria steps down her heel with a *clonk*

“Don’t you believe it’s weird that our army doesn’t react in any way just because I’m not moving?” (Imeraria)

“I will have them deal with it right away! Vaiya, where did you go!? Vaiya!” (Sabnak)

Seeing off Sabnak who jumped off the platform wagon as if running away, Imeraria grumbled 「Geez」.

“Your Majesty, Imeraria… it’s really difficult for me to tell you, but they are likely putting to use the soldiers who took a magic potion which was developed in Horant.” (Nelgal)

“What kind of drug is that?” (Imeraria)

“To the bitter end it’s a speculation, but”, giving that preface, Nelgal explains.

“Among the things which were researched by the Crown Prince who was subjugated by Earl Tohno… and died, there were some making it possible to dull a human’s fear and sense of pain. On the other hand there were also items which amplify the feeling of anger. It’s for a short period, but, looking at the situation, wasn’t it successful as it produced “soldiers who don’t feel any pain while being aggressive”…?” (Nelgal)

“I see. Those large soldiers seemed to be very slow as well. Those work with the size of a regular soldier, you say. But, won’t they be weaker than the large soldiers in that case?” (Imeraria)

“What meaning does it have to change them into the same size as a normal soldier?” Imeraria asks.

“The reinforced soldiers have difficulties to make use of their size. Their equipment is custom-made as well.” (Nelgal)

If they had the the size of common soldiers, they would be able to use the equipment of other soldiers as well and on top of that it would work out once they are crammed into cages like slaves. Even if they were given items looted from the dead, they wouldn’t complain either.

“In other words…” (Imeraria)

“If you use a large amount of immortal soldiers all at once, it’s possible to crush an enemy with soldiers who will come attacking even after getting cut or stabbed. That’s what it means.” (Nelgal)

“A considerably troublesome drug was developed there.” (Imeraria)

Nelgal tilted his head to the side due towards Imeraria who tasted the black tea after blowing on it with a “Hapheew.”

“A considerably, that is… you seem to have taken it quite calmly though…” (Nelgal)

“Nelgal-sama, for the people of Fokalore it cannot be helped that they do as they please in such way. Even my knights have some too indiscriminate aspects due to their influence.” (Imeraria)

Putting down the cup with the black tea in it, she smiles alongside a hot sigh.

“Only regarding their strength, I can trust in them.” (Imeraria)

“… That’s admirable. Well then I will return to the front line and fight together with your country and my soldiers… even for me it should be possible to become a ruler who is able to trust his people like you do.” (Nelgal)

Due to Nelgal returning to his horse in a hurry, Imeraria thought how enviable.

“If I were a man, I would probably be allowed to run around a battlefield like this as well.” (Imeraria)

“Since the elves mostly fight with magic, it has no relation to man or woman, but are humans different?” (Puuse)

Imeraria answered Puuse question with a bitter smile.

“There are also things called oppressive social rank, but it’s because I failed.” (Imeraria)

“Although I’m good at magic, I’m utterly bad with offensive spells”, once she jokes about it and displays it, even Puuse unintentionally smiled and replied that it’s the same for her as well.

“Even though children, who were strong at wind magic and such, played an active role by going to the front at the time of exterminating monsters, I was always kept indoors or cast healing from behind… although I can use binding magic more or less, it didn’t work overly well against monsters that move around…” (Puuse)

Once she hears the clonking sound of low-heeled shoes, Puuse lifts her face.
Imeraria had stood up and was pointing a serious look at Puuse.

“Puuse-san, won’t you allow me to hear further details about this?” (Imeraria)

Imeraria wanted a lecture in magic from Puuse.
While the surroundings were headed towards battle in hurry, Imeraria decided to bring Puuse over to her side.

 


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