The Muozinel army, which passed through Fort Severac, went north along the highway without even making an effort to maneuver the fort. Three days later they forced the city of Veecus situated along the highway to surrender; several days after, they besieged the Gelgovia Fort with 10,000 soldiers just as they did with Severac before.
The commander of the unit besieging the fort was Murat.
His hair was short and he wore a deep black beard under his nose. Since he was reserved and reticent by nature, he was teased as a bad gambling opponent by his peers. However, as commander he is superb, having earned him Kureys’ deep trust.
The Muozinel army, which had become 120,000 man strong, marched on.
Not only was the fort of Wilzon unmanned, it also wasn’t fit for use as it had turned into a complete ruin after having been set on fire from within, and thus the army simply went past it.
“Contrary to Severac and Gelgovia, the master of this fort apparently was a smart man”, Kureys commented while appraising the Wilzon Fort from atop his palanquin.
Two days after that, Kureys left 10,000 soldiers behind in the city of Laferte which had capitulated, and requisitioned food and material. As Laferte is a mere two days on foot from Nice, the main force of the Muozinel army could come rushing right away if contingency demanded. Once he confirmed to have enough food stored to maintain the troops for an extended period of time if the supply line were to be severed, Kureys ordered the departure.
At this time, one of his aides advised him that it was certainly important to protect the supply line, but deploying 40,000 men at four different places with 10,000 per location would very likely turn them into good targets for annihilation.
“Individual annihilation, eh? Isn’t that great?” (Kureys)
The aide looked dumbfounded due to Kureys’ assertion while smiling happily. The red-bearded younger brother of the crown prince detained the aid on the spot and summoned Damad. He then made the black-haired warrior listen to the aide’s advice.
“Try telling me what you think,” Kureys queried.
Damad thought that he might be tested here, but as it was Kureys’ order, he had to respond to it.
“If Brune possesses enough military forces, it might be possible for them to aim at crushing the units individually. However, if you exclude the militia from the enemy forces, they have at most 70,000 soldiers. By all rights, that’s a number where they have to struggle to just protect their capital.” (Damad)
Based on the information they had obtained from the scout reports and the cities that had surrendered, Kureys had mostly grasped the precise amount of troops left in the Moonlight Knight Army. Damad too had been informed about the numbers by Kureys.
“For the enemy to sever our supply lines, they have no other option but to recapture the port city Massilia or Laferte, where we are gathering our food and goods. But both Laferte and Massilia are cities with sturdy walls. They should be able to hold out against a siege for a few days.” (Damad)
The main force of the Muozinel army was close to Laferte, and Avshall’s unit was close to Massilia. Murat’s unit could maneuver either way. As long as they could resist for several days, reinforcements would definitely arrive.
“That’s how it is.” (Kureys)
Obviously bringing the matter to a close, Kureys laughed.
“If Brune aims at crushing the units individually, they can go for it. If the capital’s defense wanes because of that, it will be the best result we could ask for. To the bitter end it’s the capital we’re targeting.” (Kureys)
Damad thought, what a frightening man, while bowing his head at Kureys. This royal prince even uses the very long supply line as provocation towards the enemy.
Even if their supply line were to be cut off, the Muozinel army always had the option to pillage. Kureys hadn’t permitted the soldiers to pillage after leaving Massilia at all. That’s not only owed to him trying to keep up a reputation of being generous in the cities that surrendered.
Once the aide and Damad stepped back, Kureys looked out over the soldiers marching in front in satisfaction. The distance from Massilia to Nice amounts to 500 belsta (approximately 500 km). The generals had calculated that it would likely take 20 days in total to arrive at Nice, and that has proven to be correct.
──However, the soldiers’ fighting spirit has risen plentifully during the long march with not a single battle. I will have them throw this eagerness against the capital’s walls.
“Now then, Star Shooter, Princess Regin, how are you going to move?” (Kureys)
Red Beard revealed a daring smile while the feeling of exaltation before a battle overflowed his body.
The one who discovered their presence in the morning of that day was a soldier manning the capital’s southern wall.
No sooner than the morning mist which was about to fade beyond the horizon swayed unnaturally, black dots became visible as if black ink had been spilled within the fog.
The black dots gradually filled the highway while resolving into contorted shapes.
The soldier, who had thought that he had been seeing things until then, hailed his nearby comrade in panic. Mashas, Lim, and Mila, who received the report shortly thereafter, appeared on the southern wall. All three of them were fully armored.
They understood that these shapes, which had by now turned into an uninterrupted, muddy, black stream, were clearly heading their way.
“I heard about the enemy having 110,000 soldiers, but good gracious…”
Mashas’s face cramped up and he leaked a low groan. Lim and Mila barely managed to suppress a tremble. The soldiers and knights protecting the other sections of the wall also rushed over in succession. All of them stood stock still with blank faces.
“That’s the Muozinel army, huh?”
Fearful whispers were exchanged atop the wall which had become full of soldiers.
It was apparently a big shock even for soldiers who had served as lookouts for a long time. At the time when figures become visible in the distance, they can estimate the number of people and the distance to those people based on their prior experience. However, even they couldn’t say anything in the present situation besides it being an outrageous number.
“There’s no point in being anxious about it. The enemy surely has a big army, but it’s not like they can fly through the air,” Mashas grinned at the soldiers while deliberately using a jovial tone. “You guys appear to be surprised by that big army, but once they arrive here, they will likely be surprised by this wall. The moat is wide and deep, too. Let’s teach them that they cannot overcome this wall even with a hundred thousand soldiers.”
The moat, which had been drastically widened below the wall by the militia, has a width of 17 alsin and a depth of 40 chet (four meter) in the south and east. The western and northern moats weren’t as deep and wide, but when one left through the wall on the capital’s northern side, the terrain immediately turned into a slope, and a river is flowing in the vicinity of the western side. Neither side was really suited for the deployment of a large army.
Even just the attempt to bury those moats will likely earn them a considerable number of days.
The soldiers somewhat rally under Mashas’s encouragement. Even after witnessing the same sight as them, the elderly Earl’s composure of being able to smile calmly, and his short and stout stature hidden behind armor and helmet possessed an odd dignity.
Once someone raised a loud yell in order to rouse himself, the others also shouted from their diaphragms in response to that.
Lim and Mila looked and then nodded at each other. If one’s overpowered before a battle, they could not hope to triumph.
Lim returned to her usual, unsociable expression, and called out to Mashas.
“The enemy being visible from here means that they will likely arrive in around two hours. I think that we should check every place once more in advance.” (Lim)
“Very true. This is exactly the time when one must stick to the basics.” (Mashas)
There were plenty of places that ought to be checked such as the water and sewer systems connecting the capital to the river flowing in the west; whether there was room to move around below the wall; whether there were any problems with the weapons and goods stored on the wall, and whether they had forgotten to close the gates.
And then, when the sun climbed the zenith, Muozinel’s army arrived in front of the Capital Nice.
They stopped their march around 500 alsin away from the wall and set up their camp. The one who had been appointed to this duty was one of the generals, Ekrem.
Under his command, close to 15,000 white tents, shared by six or seven soldiers, were spread out. Once it came to such numbers disorder would manifest by tents clashing with each other or there being no gaps for the soldiers to pass through. But Ekrem made them finish the job in a short time by dealing with it skillfully.
The tents of the generals like Ekrem and Yargash were luxurious, lavish red and blue silk constructions with violet and silver embroideries and were more than double the size of the tents of the soldiers.
Kureys’ tents was close to ten times the size of the soldiers’ tents. It was a combination of several dozen tents, had a total of 20 rooms provided within, and was supported by ten pillars as thick as an adult’s torso. The tent’s color was snow white, but it was obvious to anyone that it had been set up like that to emphasize the golden embroidery. It featured a big motif of the God of War Vahram holding a golden sword and wearing a horned, golden helmet.
And at last the ground was completely covered by tents of Muozinel’s soldiers as far as the eyes could see.
For the soldiers standing on the wall it was (not such1) an oppressive view. Of course there were also some who somehow managed to avoid falling on their knees by propping themselves up with their spears after losing their cool.
It took two hours to finish the camp’s establishment. Evening was already approaching, but the strong summer sun was still flooding the land.
4,000 soldiers advanced out of the Muozinel’s army camp while basking in the intense sunlight. Kureys Shahim Balamir was at their front riding his palanquin.
Once they proceeded up to a position just out of range of arrows and stones, they dispersed to the left and right, forming up in horizontal lines.
“Ruler of Brune, Your Highness Princess Regin!”
The 4,000 soldiers repeated Kureys’s shout in a chorus. Their shouts drowned out all other sound and made the air rumble, reaching even the ears of Nice’s residents across the wall.
The children running across the streets, the housewives chattering near the street stalls, the militia men engaging in various tasks near the wall, and the elderly burdened by the summer sun, all of them stood still with startled expressions and looked up the wall. Kureys’ words were spoken in such fluent Brunish that even children comprehended their meaning.
“I shall allow you to surrender!” (Kureys)
There was no doubt that all soldiers atop the wall were dumbfounded by that appeal. Kureys and the Muozinel army continued.
“You may choose whether to leave Brune’s soil for eternity or become slaves of Muozinel. Your lives shall be guaranteed, unnecessary pillaging will be avoided, and you will be able to prevent the destruction of this beautiful capital. ──But!” (Kureys)
The Muozinel soldiers raise their voices all at once. “If you hear these words and still turn your blades against us, this capital will literally vanish from the surface. We will carry it away without leaving even a single piece of the wall behind, and all living beings will be taken away as slaves. The only thing remaining will be a desolated Luberon Mountain! If it’s now, you can still avoid such a tragic future!” Kureys concluded.
Kureys’ words were powerful and full of a confidence that overwhelmed those listening to them. One soldier after the other appeared who could vividly picture the tragic future depicted by him. Even once they tried to return words of objections, a huge camp and more than 100,000 soldiers filled their vision as soon as they looked down at Kureys.
“…What a preposterous lot.” (Lyudmila)
Mila spat out with a grim expression while looking down at the Muozinel army from atop the wall together with the soldiers of Brune and Zhcted. Her irritation wasn’t pointed only at Muozinel’s army, but also at the soldiers around her. The fear of a single person easily infects many. Especially in a situation like this. Since we’re talking about Kureys here, I’m sure he’s actually aiming for that too, but it’s going to be hard if they end up getting cold feet this easily, Mila thought.
Lim, who was standing next to Mila, asked carefully even while worrying about the soldiers’ state,
“Are they really going to follow up on what he said?” (Limalisha)
“The troublesome aspect of those guys is that you can’t laugh it off as mere threatening.” (Lyudmila)
Mila laughed and answered, but her expression is lacking its typical frankness and indifference.
If they are going to rule all of Brune, Nice turns into an important location. But, if it’s them, they wouldn’t hesitate to destroy Nice and build a Muozinel-styled city on top of the remains.
──If only Tigre was here, he could at least shoot arrows at those guys…
Even if they wouldn’t reach, they still would clearly declare their will to the opponents, and it would also be possible to restore the soldiers’ morale.
Possibly Mashas may be fine as well. His act today morning, which gave the soldiers a peace of mind, was something only he can do. At the moment he should be in the royal palace to put the entire army in order, though.
It happened when Mila was thinking about such things. A commotion welled up behind her. Mila and Lim, who turned around wondering what was going on, widened their eyes in surprise.
Regin had shown up with two guards on either side. She wore an armor atop her silken clothes, and had put on a mantle. The armor could be called lightweight as it didn’t cover her entire body, but she possessed such gallantry, nobility and beauty that it made those seeing her swallow their breath.
While her pale golden hair fluttered in the summer wind, Regin harbored an unbreakable, resolute attitude even towards Kureys’s terrifying threats.
The soldiers opened a path for her. Once Regin walked to the center of the wall, she stepped forward so that the Muozinel soldiers could see her properly. Her blue eyes coldly looked down upon Kureys on the ground.
A female guard held a sword, which she carried under her left arm, with both arms and presented it to Regin.
“Please, Your Majesty.” (Selena)
“Thanks, Selena” (Regin)
Regin took that sword and drew it out of its scabbard. Once she hoisted it up as far as she could, the hilt and guard made out of gold, and the steel-colored blade dazzlingly reflected the sunlight.
The soldiers raised voices full of astonishment. It was because the sword held by Regin had the same shape as the invincible sword extolled as the Kingdom’s treasured sword.
What’s different was its size. The original Durandal was a barely balanced great-sword wielded by the huge warrior Roland who was called Black Knight. There were records left that stated that the founder Charles, who wielded Durandal, had been a giant, as well.
However, the sword held by her was two sizes smaller.
Regin swung that sword straight down without saying anything. Mila and Lim could faintly hear how the air was slashed.
Regin sheathed the longsword and handed it back to Selena. Then she turned around and silently surveyed the soldiers with her eyes which had determination dwell within them. She put her hand on her chest, inhaled a bit, and spoke,
“──They are the enemies we must defeat.”
No trembling could be felt from Regin’s voice. It was tinged with a fighting spirit, inspiring everybody.
“We have prepared means for the sake of winning. However, to make those succeed, everyone’s power is necessary. Please lend me your strength for the sake of protecting what I want to protect.” (Regin)
Those words reached the soldiers’ ears riding upon a cool breeze.
One person yelled out loud. Several followed after him. And in the blink of an eye, all soldiers at the southern wall raised battle cries. Their enthusiasm carried over to the other sections of the wall, resulting in all soldiers manning the wall roaring at last.
──Holy cow, I’ve really got to hand it to you.
Mila sent forth her heartfelt admiration to Regin without voicing it out. I wonder how many people can adopt such a bold attitude while in front of a hundred thousand enemies?
The Regin in Mila’s memory was a girl with a far more unreliable impression. At the very least, the Regin back during the civil war in this country two years ago apparently couldn’t do much more than rely on Tigre after being rescued by him. Back then Mila had clearly regarded Regin as “hindrance.” However, she had splendidly grown up unbeknown to Mila to the extent of appearing trustworthy.
Regin noticed Mila and Lim, and walked over to them. She held out her hand with a smile.
“Lady Lyudmila. I cannot find enough words to express my gratitude for you honoring us with your participation as Zhcted’s War Princess. At the same time of being a guest of honor, I consider you to be a comrade-in-arms. We shall repay your brave fighting as much as it is possible for our country.” (Regin)
Being called a comrade-in-arms by the ruler of a country might be called the biggest compliment. Mila respectfully grasped Regin’s hand and bowed courteously. The princess’ blue eyes and the war maiden’s blue eyes meet for an instant.
———————- End of Part 1 ———————-
“──Your Majesty, I’m greatly obliged for your generous, high evaluation. For the sake of Your Majesty, who kindly refers to someone like me as comrade-in-arms, I shall vow here and now that I will display a fighting style that doesn’t put shame to my name as War Princess. Besides, there exists a deep, fateful connection between me and Muozinel.” (Lyudmila)
For Mila as well as for Regin this was an important scene. Regin demonstrated to her soldiers the value of Zhcted’s troops as comrades-in-arms for Brune and the firmness of the bond between Brune and Zhcted. Mila responded to that while observing decorum.
──The atmosphere has clearly changed…
Mila sensitively perceived that the looks towards her are now different.
Until this morning there were still many soldiers of Brune that regarded her as an outsider, but that has stopped now. Of course it’s possible that it’s a temporary phenomenon, but she was still grateful.
Next Regin calls out to Lim who’s standing next to Mila.
“Limalisha-dono. Eleonora-dono has been relying on you, her representative. As I believe there are many hardships in staying on foreign soil, please frankly tell me if there’s anything worrying you. I consider you a comrade-in-arms as well, after all.” (Regin)
As one would expect, Lim tried to go down on her knees, but that was prevented by Regin. Lim took Regin’s hand while reluctantly standing, and lowered her head deeply.
“Those words are wasted on someone like me. Your Majesty, I shall devote my meager abilities to meet Your Majesty’s expectations and to not damage the name of my mistress.” (Limalisha)
Lim’s tone was one that didn’t feel as dispassionate as usual. It was actually tinged with a faint nervousness.
Regin responded to the soldiers by raising her hand slightly, and walked away with a slow stride after showing herself to those behind the wall ─ inside the castle town. Her departure was accompanied by a cheering filled with the soldiers’ zeal, ruling the area atop the walls.
“I cannot lose to this.” (Lyudmila)
Mila sighs in admiration while pressing her hands against her waist. Once she sees the exaltation of the soldiers, she ends up believing that this capital won’t fall, no matter how much the Muozinel army might attack it. It’s not just Brune’s soldiers whose morale had been boosted. Same can be said for Zhcted’s soldiers, too.
“I’m truly astonished. I certainly can’t believe that all of it had been premeditated, though.” (Limalisha)
Lim absentmindedly stares in the direction Regin had left. Same as Mila, the impression she harbored about Regin was based on the one from two years ago. It seems that she had to greatly revise her perception.
By the way, their conversation can only be heard by the two, seeing as any quiet sounds were drowned out by the soldiers’ frenzy. Mila shrugs her shoulders, and calmly answers,
“It probably amounts to half-half. There’s no doubt that we will need every single soldier. If I had been in her position, I would be dancing in joy if I had heard that two war princesses are going to participate in the war.” (Mila)
“Lyudmila-sama dancing in joy….?” (Limalisha)
Lim knitted her eyebrows, apparently unable to imagine such a scene. Mila smiles wryly and say, “It’s just a figurative speech.”
“Anyway, seeing that I have put up such a scene, I can’t act unsightly. I have to display great efforts befitting someone who’s called War Princess, don’t I?” (Lyudmila)
“I will also assist you. For the sake of Eleonora-sama and also Lord Tigrevurmud.” (Limalisha)
Mila looked at Lim with a puzzled expression upon her words. Just now Lim had lined up the names of Elen and Tigre in a very natural manner, but I wonder whether she knows about their relationship.
“Lyudmila-sama, is there something on my face…?” (Limalisha)
Lim looks bewildered when suddenly being intently stared at. Mila hesitated, but in the end asked with a teasing expression and tone,
“Limalisha. I wonder, what do you think of Tigre?” (Lyudmila)
Mila has promised Tigre and Elen that she won’t disclose to anyone that they were a couple. That’s why this question, but Lim’s reaction was easy to understand for Mila.
“Lord Tigrevurmud, you ask?” (Limalisha)
Lim fails at trying to create her usual unsocial expression. Her blue eyes are shifting left and right, as if looking for an answer, and she needed a span of around two breaths to give a passable response.
“He’s an important person in a meaning that’s different from Eleonora-sama.” (Limalisha)
“That means, you like him?” (Lyudmila)
Even she herself thought that she asked questions like a town girl, but since she isn’t used talking about such topics, Mila calms herself by persuading herself that it should be alright. After pondering about it for a little bit, Lim smiled tenderly and answered,
“You’re right. I’m aware that I’m holding good will towards him.” (Limalisha)
I guess, Lim’s cheeks appearing to have become red is owed to the crimson sunlight illuminating the western sky.
“It’s been two years since I met him for the first time, and during all this time that man’s situation changed many times. Yet, he’s always treating me with the same attitude. I’m sure he will continue doing so from now on as well.” (Limalisha)
That’s something Mila could relate to very well. Tigre is no one that can be called conceited. No matter whether the other party’s status is lower or higher than his own, he never changes his attitude towards them while keeping a politeness befitting the circumstances at that time.
“Not through his words but his behavior, he shows that sticking to one’s principles is definitely not arrogant. I want to help him as much as I can. I want to honor his intent. That’s what I believe.” (Limalisha)
──If you feel about him this strongly, you might as well just confess to him. After all your position is a lot more flexible than mine or Eleonora’s.
Despite those being her thoughts, Mila didn’t voice them out. It would likely be mean to instigate something like that while being aware of the relationship between Tigre and Elen.
──Besides, if that’s the situation, I don’t think that it’s necessary for me to say anything.
Lim regularly looks at Elen closely. If she possesses this much affection towards Tigre, she will likely notice the relationship between the two sooner or later. The reason why she hasn’t realized yet is because she often acts separately and misses them due to being busy.
“Tigre is really a lucky fellow. For having you think so highly of him.” (Lyudmila)
Mila shrugs her shoulders in an exaggerated manner while having ambitions dwell in her blue eyes.
“I guess I will do my best and protect this place to the end, so that Tigre has a place to come back to.” (Lyudmila)
Lim first slightly and then strongly nodded at the words of the Snow Princess of the Frozen Wave.
The sun is about to finish its work for that day while dying the sky and ground crimson. The moon, clad in indigo blue like a gown, stood firm in the eastern sky while making its silhouette stand out.
On the ground, the preparations for the night have begun in the camp of Muozinel’s army.
Smoked lamb meat, dried root crops, chickpea soup, and wheat had been provided to the soldiers. This wheat can be kneaded into something like bread, and likewise it can be put into the soup to turn it into gruel. However, drinking alcohol has been prohibited.
In addition, various types of spices and medicinal herbs have been distributed. The spices for the sake of bringing the taste of the soup and smoked lamb close to one resembling their own country, and the medicinal plants to avoid their physical condition to deteriorate. As those herbs are bitter and excessively hard to chew, their reputation among the soldiers is fairly low, however.
Even an order to cook water until it boils was enforced. Given that this went as far as the leaders of each unit going on patrols in shifts, the soldiers had no choice but to obey.
These things had been also repeated during the march. Not one of these rules were something you could fail to observe, if it comes to a campaign in a distant, foreign country.
The supreme commander Kureys is in a good mood inside his tent. He didn’t intend to take Regin lightly, but not only did she show up atop the wall, she also declared her intentions with actions rather than words. That’s something he certainly hadn’t expected. Red Beard enjoyed a refreshed feeling as if having gotten something off his chest.
“It was an unexpectedly good response for a seventeen years old lass. It sure is a waste to kill her.” (Kureys)
Kureys says while eating with his close aides. By the way, their meal is almost no different from that of the soldiers. The only addition is a native wine from Muozinel.
There are also some seasonal goods provided by the cities that had capitulated lining up in front of Kureys, but right now it’s summer. He had to be careful about what he can eat.
One of the aides, who was chewing lamb, leaned forward.
“Then let’s revise our plan and give a strict order to seize Princess Regin alive.”
Kureys shook his head while drinking wine from a silver cup heavily decorated with gems.
“Unnecessary. Going by their state, it doesn’t seems as if they’re going to capitulate in around ten days. Let’s consider it anew after we’ve driven them into a corner and slowly tired them out by attacking viciously.” (Kureys)
“I wonder how long it’s going to take for Nice to surrender?”
Another aide asks while sipping wheat gruel. Kureys dons a deeply serious expression, and looks at his own face reflected by the wine inside the cup.
“Let’s see. If nothing happens, 40…no, 45 days, I’d say?” (Kureys)
Half the aides are surprised. Kureys looks at them and laughs.
“That’s only natural. That’s no mountain castle, but the capital of a country blessed with abundant land.” (Kureys)
After the meal, Kureys summoned Ekrem, and ordered him to take the vanguard in the battle starting on the next day.
Ekrem humbly accepted his official appointment.
Ekrem is a commoner by birth and will turn 26 years old this year. He has the smallest build among the generals following Kureys and he’s regarded as being far too young age-wise, which is a cause of annoyance for him.
He even let a beard grow out, but when he was seriously asked by his colleague Yargash whether it’s a false mustache after around three months had passed, he shaved it off since he thought that it doesn’t suit him anyway.
Before accompanying Kureys, he served as attendant of the royal palace’s guard commander.
But then again, he became an attendant after his predecessor recommended Ekrem, a distant relative of his, when he was about to retire due to old age. It’s not like he was picked for having some outstanding talent, rather, his abilities were evaluated to be average.
The moment when Kureys learned of his existence was when he visited the room of the guard commander. That room, which was always the very definition of chaos, had been completely tidied up and put in order to a surprising degree.
“Were you able to find a woman that likes cleanliness?” (Kureys)
The guard commander introduced Ekrem to Kureys who asked in admiration. Upon inquiring further, Kureyes learned that he’s a young man who likes miscellaneous, plain tasks.
Later Kureys borrowed Ekrem from the guard commander, and took him along to the battlefield. Once he ordered him to set up a tent, Ekrem showed that he could finish it then and there with no wasted movements and precisely as ordered.
“No matter what you do, there’s a predetermined sequence. I’m just following that.” (Ekrem)
Ekrem, who had been praised by Kureys, answered while averting his face in embarrassment. This was the moment when he decided to obey Red Beard.
Afterwards, Ekrem went on many battlefields, continuing to refine his abilities as commanding officer. His abilities as soldier were truly average, but that’s not what Kureys was expecting of him. Both, Red Beard and Ekrem, knew that a battlefield required people other than soldiers.
Ekrem, who had been ordered to lead the attack on the capital, woke up when the eastern sky started to become bright.
He leaves the camp together with several subordinates, and rides once around the capital while spending close to one koku, surveying the moat.
The Brune and Zhcted soldiers atop the wall noticed their existence, but with Ekrem’s group being less than ten people and the sky still being dim, they didn’t attack even though they were vigilant. They judged that throwing stones would be mostly pointless in this situation.
Having returned to the camp, Ekrem hurried finished his breakfast, assembled his main commanding officers, and curtly announced,
“We will bury the southern and eastern moats.” (Ekrem)
They are going to attack the capital that had firmly closed its gates and was surrounded by a sturdy wall with wide moats. Even Kureys would have likely limited it to this one order for the day.
Ekrem had been given 10,000 infantry soldiers and 30,000 battle slaves by Kureys, but he left 4,000 infantry soldiers nearby, and assigned the work to the remaining 36,000 soldiers by splitting them in three groups.
One group carried the soil over from a distant place, and another group tossed that soil into the moat. Meanwhile the remaining group took a rest. Ekrem ordered them to alternate the tasks at fixed intervals to have them constantly bring in soil for burying the moats.
There was no way for the soldiers of the Moonlight to silently ignore them going at it. They vigorously threw stones at the Muozinel soldiers that got close to the moat.
However, there were always soldiers carrying big shields at the side of the soldiers tossing soil into the moat. As the shields’ size was just big enough to cover for two people, the thrown stones were mostly repelled.
Even so, the circumstance of stones continuously dropping down from above was terrifying for the Muozinel soldiers, and clearly made their movements dull. However, Ekrem didn’t hurry the work.
“If it’s an obstruction at this level, there’s no need to pay any attention to it. In Brune that looks down on archery, even stones are precious weapons, I’m sure. Have them waste those pointlessly as much as possible.” (Ekrem)
However, the soldiers of the Moonlight Knights apparently noticed that as well. At the time when around half a toki had passed, they ceased throwing further stones.
The first day of the battle over the capital greeted its end in the shape of the Muozinel soldiers steadily burying the moat, and the Moonlight Knights soldiers looking down on that in irritation.
After the Muozinel army had pulled back into its camp once the sun sank beyond the horizon, Mashas and Mila stared at the bottom of the moat while standing on the wall next to each other. Mashas had put on helmet and armor. Mila was wearing a silver breastplate while shouldering her dragonic tool. As he made his armor clatter, the elderly Earl asked,
“What do you think, Lyudmila-dono?” (Mashas)
“Well… Won’t they reach a point where the moat will be filled enough to allow walking atop of it in seven or eight days, if they keep filling the moat at today’s pace?” (Lyudmila)
“True, I guess it will take them around that much time.” (Mashas)
A sigh escapes Mashas’ mouth. There’s no need to bury the moat all over. It will be fine as long as they can secure a path for the soldiers to take hold of the wall.
He knows how precious those seven days will be, but he, as the one commanding all soldiers in the capital, wanted to delay the battle even further. Mila smiles at him in consolation.
“If you consider that we will be able to gain seven days in such a battle, it’s a good performance. Besides, even if we say that they will create a path, something like rushing with a large army still won’t be possible for several days. With a moat of this width, it probably won’t be possible to use siege ladders as substitutes for bridges either.” (Lyudmila)
“Yeah. I suppose that’s how one must consider this. Sorry, I showed you something shameful.” (Mashas)
Mashas forced a smile while stroking his gray beard roughly.
“I certainly knew about you excelling in defensive battles from before, but you’re truly admirable for your age. I just wonder how we shall compensate you for your cooperation.” (Mashas)
“Don’t worry about it. I will have Tigre pay it all back in one go.” (Lyudmila)
Mila says in a tone as if it’s of no concern and laughs. Due to the reply that was beyond expectation, Mashas stared at the war princess with a dumbfounded expression.
“Yes. It was different before, but now Tigre is controlling Brune’s entire army. Even His Majesty the King of our country values him highly. I have been thinking that it might be fine to have him soon pay back all the current debts while adding a little extra. Is there anything wrong with that?” (Lyudmila)
Mila closes one eye while explaining with an expression full of charm. The white ribbon bound at the back of her head fluttered in the wind.
“T-That makes sense. You have helped out Tigre many times, after all.” (Mashas)
Once he recovers from his surprise after taking a short pause, Mashas nods seriously. In his mind he felt relieved. What the old Earl remembered is his exchange with Tigre more than ten days ago. The young man confessed that there’s another girl he loves besides Titta.
──Another one very likely means that it’s Eleonora-dono. That damn Badouin has said that Princess Regin likes Tigre, too. I certainly don’t think so, but if the numbers increase any further, he won’t be able to hold his own anymore.
Because he was distracted by Mila’s joke, Mashas didn’t notice the feelings harbored by the blue-eyed war princess. But then again, even if he had noticed them, he would have likely pretended not to. The problems of young people should be resolved by young people.
———————- End of Part 2 ———————-