Chapter 1 – Emotions Ablaze


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The Boroszló Plain was located in the northeast of Legnica. Snow had started to fall onto this land after the battle had begun. The sun, hidden behind thick clouds, would need another koku to reach its zenith.

The ones fighting were two armies affiliated to the Zhcted Kingdom. One hailed from Leitmeritz and was led by 『Wind Princess of the Silver Flash』 Eleonora Viltaria, and the other was Legnica’s army, following 『Hidden Princess of the Luminous Flame』 Figneria Alshavin. Both forces clashed, brandishing their swords and holding up their spears.

The Black Dragon flags of Zhcted fluttered in the wind as gusts of wind trifled with them. And at the same time, the battle flags of Leitmeritz – a slanting, silver sword on black ground – and Legnica – two blades crossing on yellow ground – did their utmost to not lose out to Zhcted’s flags.

Both sides fielded roughly 4,000 soldiers. While ferociously driving away winter’s chill with angry roars and heated passion, they hacked their axes and bashed their shields at the enemies in front of them. Snow fluttered down, continuing to bury the corpses strewn on the cold soil, as the silent streams of blood were frozen solid.

It was for the sake of their lords that they stood on the battlefield while smeared in blood and mud. Elen and Figneria had understandably advocated their causes to be just when addressing their soldiers. But, it was more than correct to say that only a few soldiers followed them into battle because they believed in some righteousness.

I want to bring victory to my lord, that was the very emotion driving them to fight. And thus both side’s fighting spirits collided, with it not being clear which would take the upper hand in the end.

In the middle of that battlefield a crooked circular space had formed. The two Vanadis and a single knight were in there – Elen, Figneria, and Elen’s adjutant, Lim.

A fierce exchange of blows had unfolded between the two Vanadis as they brandished their draconic tools. Each time the blades clashed, sparks flew off into the vicinity, coloring the snow in rainbow colors. The wind howled, embers whirled about, and a smell of burned atmosphere assailed their noses.

If it had been a normal battle, the supreme commanders of both armies would have never duked it out in a one-on-one like this. But, things were different when it came to a battle between fellow Vanadis. After all, an army would suffer tremendous losses if you left an enemy Vanadis to her own devices. Excluding a very few exceptions, only a Vanadis could directly counter a Vanadis. On top of that, a fateful bond existed between Elen and Figneria: Figneria had slain Vissarion, Elen’s foster father.

All of these reasons became the grounding for this battle between the two.

Elen was 18 years old. Her silver hair, reaching down all the way to her waist, was dirty with mud, and a deep wound gaped on her left flank. The blood flowing out of it dyed the skirt of her blue uniform dark red. She had other cuts and gashes across her body, but the will to fight to the bitter end dwelt in her ruby eyes as she straightly glared at her foe. Like this novel? Then support it by reading it on the translator’s blog.

Figneria was seven years older than Elen. Long, black hair, black eyes filled with serenity, and black clothes with a falcon garment sewed into them. She calmly took on Elen’s glare, which would likely make even brave people flinch, without a single change on her expression.

The third one, Lim, stood several steps away from the other two. She was 21 years old. Her dull, blond hair was bound on the left side of her head, and her tall figure was covered by a blue uniform. She was tightly grasping a longsword, faint nervousness visible in her blue eyes as she looked at Figneria.

It was planned for Lim to take command of Leitmeritz’ army in Elen’s stead during this battle. But, she had entrusted that task to Rurick right before the battle started, and hurried over to Elen’s side. If not for that resolute action of Lim, the battle between the two Vanadis might have ended with Figneria’s victory by now.

After a long rally of blows, Elen and Figneria jumped back to gain some distance from each other. They were examining their opponent’s state while catching some breath.

“We walk together, and win together, huh…?” Figneria mumbled.

Those were the words Elen had used earlier. Her eyes, gleaming with a cold indifference, shifted from Elen, who was in front of her, to Lim. Figneria evaluated Lim’s strength as a warrior to be fairly decent. She wasn’t weak by any means. But, Figneria was certain that Lim was no match for her. She believed that she’d be able to win even if Lim were to challenge her together with Elen.

──No, overestimating myself is a bad idea.

Figneria had also heard stories of warriors dominating their opponents with superb skill just to lose their life because they had the bad luck of a drop of rain blinding them for an instant. She herself had more than once clung to life because of sheer luck. She couldn’t afford to be careless here.

──I’ll steadily take them down, one after the other.

Figneria’s eyes returned to Elen. The small swords in her hands let flames lick across their blades in response to the fighting spirit they had sensed from their owner. 『Twin Blades of Demon Slayer』 Bargren. Its golden and vermilion blades, which possessed the power to manipulate fire, formed Figneria’s draconic tool as a pair.

Elen clad herself in wind with the longsword in her hands. 『Brilliant Fallen Spirit Slayer』 Arifar. Equipped with the power to manipulate wind, it was Elen’s partner.

Elen and Figneria kicked off the ground at the same time. Making their blades ring, the two Vanadis ferociously chopped away at each other from the front. Arifar’s wind whirled up both women’s hair while the flames unleashed by Bargren caused their faces to glow red. Flames and wind raged as they preyed upon each other.

As one exchange of blows followed the next, Figneria noticed that Elen’s way of fighting differed from before. The violent force behind her sword, which was inhabited by the spirit to defeat the enemy even at the expense of her own life, had lessened somewhat. The number of moves, where she tried to lure Figneria, and solid attacks aiming at Figneria’s legs and arms were increasing.

──I thought she might be covering for the wound at her side, but…

It wasn’t like that. Figneria sent a glance at Lim who was visible at the corner of her eyes. Elen had decided her role to be the creation of an opening against Figneria. Despite being a Vanadis, it didn’t change the fact that Figneria was a human made out of blood and flesh. If she was cut down or stabbed, she’d die.

──Certainly, if we’re talking about Lim, she’ll probably come at me without any fear.

She had been able to leap in to save Elen, albeit mounted on a horse, with the resolve to be slain by Figneria. Figneria suspected that Lim wouldn’t falter from a bit of intimidation.

Both Vanadis separated without it being clear who moved first while dodging their opponent’s draconic tool. Figneria pretended to be nonchalant, shifting her position a few steps to the right. Elen readied her sword, and took a step forward. After fixing the hold on her small swords, Figneria confronted Elen. The two kept carefully inching closer to each other, just to start dashing all of a sudden.

In contrast to Figneria who plunged in straight ahead with both her swords at the ready, Elen jumped up high into the air, reaching a place above Figneria’s head thanks to Arifar’s powers. Then she assaulted Figneria from above alongside a yell of fighting spirit.

Figneria calmly released flames in a radial shape from her two blades. Of course she didn’t think that something like this would be capable of repelling her opponent, but it’d do as restraint.

In the next instant, a whirlwind arose between the two, and before the crimson flames could reach Elen, they were torn apart and dispersed by wind blades. Countless embers rained down on Figneria.

While Figneria protected her head with the left arm, she readied the sword in her right to counter Elen who might be swooping down on her. But, she couldn’t see Elen anywhere.

──Behind.

Figneria perceived the slight fluctuations in the wind with her cheeks and ears. She tore the sword in her left diagonally through the air, burning everything in its wake, and at the same time turned around by twisting her body.

A sharp stab by a silver sword point grazed Figneria’s nape, and lightly cut through her left shoulder. If Figneria hadn’t covered her head with her left arm or were a moment slower in her movements, the longsword’s blade might have penetrated the back of her head, and made its way out of her mouth.

The wind stirred faster than Figneria could counterattack, and a shadow passed above her head. Elen landed outside the range of Figneria’s swords.

“That was a good attack.” Figneria praised Elen honestly.

Elen had scattered the flames with a whirlwind, changed her direction in the air within an instant, while making it seem as though she would plunge down just like that, and moved into Figneria’s back. And while dodging Figneria’s flames and slash, she had unleashed one stab, and quickly separated.

“Are you trying to be sarcastic?” Elen spat out while smiling fiendishly.

She used this expression to hide the pain coming from her left side. In her mind, Elen cursed.

──She noticed our aim, huh?

Moments before their clash, Figneria had moved sideways, adjusting her positioning so that all three of them would stand in a straight line. With Lim standing behind Elen, she would have no choice but to go around on the right or left, if she were to try slashing away at Figneria.

Leaving aside if it was someone else, but with Figneria as opponent, Lim would have definitely been dealt with if her attack took so much time. For this reason, Lim remained where she was.

──But her adopting such a measure is proof of her vigilance towards Lim. If we can get her to split her attention between Lim and me, it’ll probably become easier to find an opening as well.

Elen took a deep breath, rallying her spirit. As she drew a gentle arc with her longsword, the wind followed the trajectory.

“──Wind ShadowVuelni.”

Elen’s whole body was engulfed by wind. Her hair floated up, and the hem of her uniform fluttered vehemently. She headed for Figneria by sliding across the ground rather than running normally.

“──Heat HazeAutresque.” Figneria crossed the golden and vermilion blades in front of her chest without moving from the spot.

The flames dancing around the blades heated up the surrounding temperature, and Figneria’s figure became oddly flickery and blurry.

Elen struck a mighty blow of wind at Figneria’s feet while jumping. The soil was gouged out alongside a hard thud, earth and pebbles were sent flying. Watching those, Elen grasped Figneria’s precise location. Brandishing her blade, Elen leaped at Figneria.

But, the black-haired Vanadis warded off the slash with the golden blade on her right.

Without stubbornly pursuing, Elen quickly pulled away, and this time lowered her stance as she assaulted Figneria again while moving as if she was trying to take Figneria’s left side.

Figneria hindered Elen by restraining her with flames released from her swords, but Elen jumped over those flames, closing the distance from above. No sooner than Figneria believed that Elen would slash at her just like that, Elen forcefully threw some dirt in her left hand. It was the mud she had picked up when she had lowered her stance.

Figneria covered her face with her left hand, and while letting the dirt fly past, she jumped widely to the side, evading the slash coming at her immediately following the dirt.

“Just like a little, pesky fly. How annoying.”

“I’d prefer if you at least called me a bee. I do have a stinger with me.”

As Elen retorted with a cynical provocation, she tapped her shoulder with her sword. Her eyes were alertly trying to read Figneria in an attempt to grasp how to attack and what would create an opening.

Suddenly, Figneria dashed forward. She tightly grasped her two swords with her arms outstretched while she approached Elen from the front. Her movements were so fast and nimble that it seemed as though the falcon sewn onto her clothes had come to live. Elen tightened her expression, and met the black-haired Vanadis square from the front.

First the fighting spirits of both fighters clashed, and immediately following, sparks were scattered from three blades. Figneria raised both hands overhead, and fully smashed down the two small swords at Elen. Elen blocked that blow, filled with terrifying bloodlust, by holding Arifar horizontally.

Figneria’s way of fighting qualified to be described as wild onslaught of a beast. She closed the distance more than necessary, and continuously hacked and stabbed away with her swords. It was a reckless style as if not sparing a single thought to defense. She didn’t use her flames at all.

Elen answered in kind, opposing Figneria using only sword techniques and martial arts without relying on her wind. She warded the slashes off with her longsword, repelled them, and twisted her body only in order to avoid a fatal wound, thrusting and cutting back at any opportunity. As blade ringing overlapped blade ringing, her uniform got torn open, and cuts ran down along her arms and legs.

With each instant passing, small wounds kept accumulating on the bodies of both Vanadis.

Elen had grasped that Figneria was likely refraining from using her own flames as she was wary of Elen’s wind. If she unleashed flames at such a close range which then got distorted by wind, it’d block her line of sight. It was also possible that she’d suffer burns. After all, even though the flames would be created by Figneria herself, the power of Elen’s would fan the fire.

──But, what’s her aim? Does she plan to prevent Lim from taking action?

With both Vanadis in such close combat, Lim wouldn’t be able to attack Figneria, even if a chance presented itself. She’d fear to hit Elen by mistake, and Figneria and Elen might switch places in this volatile exchange of attacks and defenses.

“Do you remember the ironclad rule of the battlefield?” Figneria hissed while pushing out her two swords with all her might.

As she blocked the two blades, Elen looked into Figneria’s face with a puzzled expression.

The black-clothed warrior, who was once called Fine of the Rebellion, continued, “You first kill the weaker enemy.”

At the same time as she finished speaking, Figneria withdrew her swords, and leaped backwards. Elen immediately swung her sword sideways while almost losing her balance, but the blade only cut empty air.

And Figneria, who had distanced herself from Elen, started to run towards Lim with her black clothes fluttering. Elen widened her eyes, and became pale as all blood drained from her face.

The reason why Figneria had been determinedly attacking Elen was to hide her true objective. There was no way that someone who wasn’t a Vanadis could honestly fight and win against a Vanadis. Even if Lim were able to block one or two slashes, she’d be helpless against the flames.

“Lim!” Just as she screamed, Elen clad herself in wind and started to run.

Being hot on Figneria’s heels with an astonishing speed, she raised Arifar overhead. It was exactly at this moment that Figneria stopped running by powerfully planting her feet against the ground, and turned around in Elen’s direction. Her eyes were those of a huntress who saw how her prey got caught in her trap.

Elen struck her sword down, but Figneria repelled that blow with the sword in her left, and while tilting her body, she vigorously swung her leg upwards, delivering a kick against Elen.

Elen attempted to dodge Figneria’s kick by twisting her body, but as the momentum of her pursuit was too big, it was impossible for her to completely evade it. The tip of Figneria’s boot grazed the wound at Elen’s left flank. Elen groaned in pain, and lost her balance.

“──Piercing Fire Lance ColumnPlamoak.”

Figneria swung the sword in her right upwards, all the way from below. The golden blade released a gleam, and several pillars of fire viciously burst out of the ground, enveloping Elen’s body.

“Eleonora-sama!” Lim raised a heartbreaking scream.

However, as soon as she tried to run over, she was glared down by Figneria, causing her feet to stop. She felt very nervous when thinking about Elen’s situation, but it was obvious that she’d merely get herself killed if she jumped in without a plan. She had to come up with some kind of tactic.

When the pillars vanished, Elen fell to the ground, face-up. Her body was riddled with burns all over. Her not having suffered any fatal wounds despite getting burned across her whole body was probably owed to Arifar having protected her with its wind. Elen hadn’t let go of her sword, but while gasping painfully, her eyes hollowly stared up into the sky in a daze. Her body screamed at her, and especially the wound on her left side was a gnawing tumor of pain.

Elen had lost all willpower and stamina to get up.

“The part about the weaker enemy was about you.”

Elen could hear Figneria’s cold voice from far away. From the very start, Figneria had always targeted Elen. By making Elen believe that she was aiming for Lim, she robbed Elen of her calm, and fully lured her in. And Elen had completely fallen for this.

──I lost.

She had been crushingly and thoroughly defeated, as a warrior and as a Vanadis. A voice was scolding her in a corner of her mind. Asking her whether she’d abandon the soldiers believing in her. Asking her whether she’d let her best friend, who went through thick and thin with her, die just like that. Asking whether her words from before were all just big talk. Asking whether it wasn’t her who had spoken about walking together and winning together. Asking whether it’d be fine with her to sadden her lover and comrade-in-arms who was currently not here. Asking whether it was okay to let her dream end in a place like this. And asking what kind of face she wanted to show to those who had passed on first.

I know, she answered to that voice. But, there’s no strength left in my body anymore.

The voice further argued, asking whether she didn’t want to get her revenge anymore.

A blurry figure of her foster father surfaced in her mind. Vissarion – the leader of the mercenary band 『Silver Gale Mercenaries』 and the man who had picked her up and raised her. Five years ago he lost his life on the battlefield after getting cut down by Figneria.

──Sorry, Vissarion.

The nation building would come to an end here. She didn’t manage to fulfill her foster father’s dream. She didn’t manage to avenge him either. Still, no matter how trifling, she wanted to tell him something that would delight him.

──No…

Elen remembered. There should have been something. Something Vissarion desired for himself. She felt pathetic for not being able to even remember something so important.

She wondered what her last conversation with Vissarion was about. Even though Elen knew that it never took place, her thinking couldn’t move on from there.

The battlefield on that day was rowdy from the very beginning since there was vigor in the enemy forces. They didn’t have the spare time to exchange more words than necessary. Given that it was a lost battle, Vissarion was busy to his bitter end while commanding the 『Silver Gale Mercenaries』. It was the same even at the time when he was cut down during the battle against Figneria. After she had left, Elen and Lim had lifted Vissarion up in their arms as he still lay on the ground, but he was already dead at that time.

The sight of that time revived in Elen’s head. Figneria, who had turned on them and was leaving, was tightly gripping dazzling flames in her hands for some reason.

──Bargren. Why did you choose Figneria after Sasha?

She one-sidedly complained towards a draconic tool that wasn’t her partner in the first place.

Sasha – Alexandra Alshavin – was Elen’s close friend and the previous Hidden Princess of the Luminous Flame who lost her life to illness. Her black eyes that harbored gentleness and power, and her ephemeral smile; Elen still could vividly recall both. Elen had been entrusted by Sasha with the dream she had secretly embraced.

The voice asked whether she really couldn’t stand up any longer. It appealed that she had likely not given her all yet.

Sasha and Vissarion stood next to each other, staring her way, in the depths of her mind. Both showed gentle smiles filled with deep trust.

At that moment, footsteps approached, suddenly pulling Elen back to reality.

I guess Figneria has come to finish me off. One of the ironclad rules on the battlefield she taught me in the past was to never believe that an opponent has died until you put an end to their life yourself. She appears to creep closer ever so slowly, probably trying to get a read on my state while closing the distance.

A shadow darkened the sight behind her closed eyelids, and the footsteps came to a halt. Once Elen faintly opened her eyes, Figneria was looking down at her. The blade of her small sword was clad in golden light with her being ready to strike.

Exactly in the instant Figneria was about to release those flames, Elen jerked her body up, and thrust Silver Flash at her. The wind bursting out of Arifar’s point made Figneria’s flames flicker violently as it peeled it off the blade. The black-haired Vanadis swiftly jumped backwards.

“Gu…uu….a…” Elen crouched on the spot while groaning in pain.

With her face twisted from the pain screaming at her from all across her body, Elen was surprised at her own action.

──I could still move…?

Even though she couldn’t move a single finger moments ago, her instinct to live on with death right in front of her eyes had likely stirred her body. Or maybe it happened because Sasha and Vissarion had told her that it was too early for her to join them.

Once she resolutely lifted her face, she saw Figneria warily looking her way with faint surprise dwelling in her eyes. Lim seemed to be on the verge of crying from effusive joice.

──It’s good that she focused on me.

If Figneria had left Elen alone and faced Lim instead, it might have led to an irreversible situation. Elen was glad from the bottom of her heart for Figneria to be such a stickler to the rules of the battlefield.

──However, for those two to line up and stand in front of me…

Probably because her mind was still hazy, Elen allowed herself to indulge in pointless thoughts completely unrelated to the current battle. Sasha and Vissarion – there was no doubt that both were important to Elen, but they shared no common point besides that.

Having thought up to this point, Elen remembered what Vissarion had wished from her. Albeit indistinct, a gleam returned into her ruby eyes. Her lips relaxed a bit. And she became able to feel the coldness of the snow that was melting after having drizzled down on her hands and shoulders.

While wondering why she had forgotten until now, she also thought that it was only natural for her to have done so. Back then, it had become a common habit of hers to hear past what he told her almost every day. Besides, since she was always reminded of his death first whenever she thought about Vissarion, she made sure to not recall those painful memories unless absolutely necessary.

Biting down on her lips, Elen forced her murky consciousness to sober up. She scratched the ground.

──I guess I can still go on.

She poured power into each and every finger of her right hand which was holding onto Arifar. Once she tightly clamped down on the hilt, Arifar wrapped up Elen’s body in a gentle wind as if to encourage her.

“Sorry, I’ve shown you something pathetic…” She apologized to her draconic tool, squeezing out a hoarse voice.

She had become embarrassed of herself.

Am I not simply basking in self-pity after being beaten down a little bit? I’m still alive. I’ve got all my limbs. My body hurts, but I can move it. And above all, I haven’t used up all my strength yet. There’s no way that I could face Sasha and Vissarion after having done so little.

Borrowing the help of the wind coiled around her body, Elen got up. She gazed at Figneria, slowly breathed in, and then exhaled. She felt like she’d collapse from the pain all over her body, if she lost focus. But she couldn’t afford to act so disgracefully.

“You did well to have managed to get up after this.” Figneria said in admiration

Elen lifted the corners of her mouth, and flashed a confident smile at her.

“I remembered Vissarion, so yeah.”

Figneria’s eyebrows twitched faintly, and then she provoked Elen, spitting out with a dispassionate tone, “I guess you’d be too ashamed to face him in the other world, if you didn’t avenge him.”

“No,” Elen shook her head, “If I don’t make Vissarion’s wish come true, I don’t know what he’s going to tell me once I meet him in the other world one day. Once I realized that, I had no choice but to stand up.”

“…Ah, the dream of building a country, huh.”

“No, not that.” Elen clearly denied, and glared at Figneria with an expression baring her discontent. “I’ll say it because we’re here like this right now, but I envied you in regards to that dream. You were the only person Vissarion told about this dream by himself. Lim and I pestered him to tell us, but in the end he never directly spoke to us about it.”

Hearing Elen, Figneria narrowed her eyes, apparently not having expected this. But, once she thought about it logically, it was only natural. At the time when Vissarion died, Elen was 13 years old, and Lim 16. Vissarion doubtlessly doted on the two girls, considering them precious, but it’d have been weird for him to have perceived them as people he could seriously consult about his own dreams.

Vissarion’s dream was nothing he had entrusted to Elen. It was something she had decided to succeed out of her own volition. What Vissarion desired for Elen was something completely different.

“Anyway, I’ve digressed,” while putting her breathing in order, Elen continued talking.

She expected that Figneria might respond if she mentioned Vissarion’s name, and she was spot on with that assumption. Her continuing to speak about things long past to the extent of her mentioning what made her envious as a little child was for the sake of buying time. She wanted to accumulate as much power in the hand grasping the sword and the feet planted on the ground as possible.

“Vissarion’s dream, you see──” she deliberately added a pause here to put on some airs, “──was for Lim and me to find a good man, get married, and give birth to healthy children. This was something he told us almost everyday as he seemed to be quite worried about it. He said the same in the morning of that day as well.”

A stiff silence stretched out between the two Vanadis. It was Figneria’s short laughter that tore it apart.

“That totally sounds like him.”

If he felt love as their foster father, he might not have wished for them to keep walking down the path of mercenaries where you never knew what tomorrow might bring. Their mercenary band had several women who were in charge of miscellaneous chores, but some mercenaries found lovers among those women, and left the mercenary band to lead the life of a married couple.

“One more thing: I inherited the wish of a precious, close friend.”

Sasha had regretted that she couldn’t give birth to any children before she left this world. That wish, which she passed on to Elen, made Elen recall her final conversation with Vissarion.

“I want to grant Vissarion’s hope and my friend’s wish. For this reason, I cannot afford to lose my life in a place like this.”

 

◆◇◆

 

The snow still continued to flutter down on the battleground. While weighing the best moment to unleash their deadly, draconic arts, the two Vanadis cautiously closed their distance.

“Come to think of it, I still haven’t heard your answer, have I?” Figneria said as if having remembered all of a sudden. “Did you manage to fulfill Vissarion’s dream?”

Elen blinked, staring at Figneria with a puzzled expression. This was no question you’d ask on a bloody battlefield during a duel to the death. But, she couldn’t sense any hostility from Figneria’s eyes and tone. She couldn’t believe that she had asked this while harboring some kind of hidden motive.

──I remember. She asked me the same at her governmental residence, didn’t she?

This happened before winter, during Elen’s return to Zhcted after taking the sea route from Brune. When their group stopped by Legnica’s governmental residence, Elen had reunited with Figneria out of the blue. At that time, Figneria had also confronted Elen with that question. Considering the fateful bond between the two and seeing how this was a battlefield, Elen might very well answer with a slash of her sword. And as a matter of fact, she tried to do just that during their past meeting.

However, after thinking it over for a short time, Elen faced Figneria seriously, “Vissarion’s dream is a part of my dreams right now,” and then continued with her eyes full of dignity, “My views greatly differ now compared to back then. Of course a part of it stems from my past views having been crude and immature. But, that’s not all. My many, new encounters changed my opinion about building a country in a positive way.”

The soldiers and citizens of Leitmeritz. The Vanadis such as Sasha and Sofy. Eugene Shevarin who taught Elen and Lim about etiquette. And Tigrevurmud Vorn who governed over Alsace after having properly inherited the will of his father, despite being a puny noble from another country.

Elen had learned a lot as a ruler from all of them.

“No one having to starve, no one having to fear wild animals and bandits, everyone having a warm place to weather through the cold seasons, a lively coming and going of people, everyone being able to happily live their lives…those wishes of Vissarion have certainly become a central part of my dreams. But, my dreams are my own, not some copy of Vissarion’s dream. Even though both our dreams follow the same aim.”

Dreams kept changing their shape depending on the person embracing them. At times dreams would need to face reality, at other times they’d be completely altered through new knowledge and experiences, and ultimately they’d change depending on new encounters and discoveries.

“I won’t forget Vissarion. Neither his wishes nor the plethora of views he imparted on me. But, I’ll only add them to my own.”

Elen pointed Arifar straight ahead. The blade glowed bluish-white, and wind coiled around it in a vortex. As the snow continued to be drawn into that whirlpool, a white spiral came into existence.

“That’s your dream, huh? ──I got it.”

Figneria readied Bargren by crossing its blades in front of her face. Golden flames from the golden blade and crimson flames from the scarlet blade surged out, drawing arcs in the air. For an instant, the blades increased their radiance, and the flames grew in intensity.

Figneria soundlessly muttered, “I have my own dream as well.”

Nurturing soldiers by actively invading foreign soil, stealing riches and resources, creating prosperity by expanding the realm, and not allowing any opposition. Someday when I die, I won’t be able to meet Vissarion’s eyes anymore. But, if I don’t manage to achieve this dream, I’m going to lose the qualification to even talk with his spirit.

“For the sake of my dream, I’ll burn your dreams to nothing.”

Their tremendous powers caused the atmosphere around them to tremble. The wind cladding Elen’s Arifar howled loudly, and transformed into a storm cluster destroying everything it touched. Figneria’s Bargren, on the other hand, created two rings of fire burning everything to smithereens.

“──Tear the atmosphere apart!Ley Adomos

“──Rotating Twin BlazeFlanroth.”

The crossing flame halos and the ferocious beast manifested by the wind collided. The ground was gouged out, the atmosphere ruptured, and a fiercely hot wind swept across the vicinity as an after-effect of the clash. The heat assaulted the soldiers of both armies who had been watching the battle between the Vanadis from a distance. They tumbled down, suffering a multitude of burns.

The wind beast tried to rip apart the flame halos, and the flame halos tried to tear the wind beast into fragments. The two clusters of immense power whittled each other down while scattering light and heat.

The two Vanadis didn’t move from their spot, only focusing on their respective enemy. New traces of scalding were created on Elen’s body in succession, and her uniform got burned at many places. On the other hand, lacerations similar to being sliced by small blades carved themselves into Figneria’s body, creating torn patches all over her black clothes.

In the next instant, flames and wind were engulfed in a light capable of burning one’s eyes. A roar resembling thunder shook earth and atmosphere at the same time, and the bodies of Elen, Figneria, and Lim floated up a bit.

When the light quietly faded away, a huge hole in the shape of a mortar revealed itself between Elen and Figneria. If someone had been close to that place, they’d likely understand just how seething hot that hole was. The two draconic arts had simultaneously disappeared while fighting each other.

Elen exhaled deeply. She was on the verge of collapsing then and there, but she somehow prevented from toppling over by using Arifar as support.

Figneria corrected her grip of her two blades, believing that she’d bring down Elen for sure this time. But, just when she stepped forward to go around the hole, she perceived an unusual presence, and turned her eyes to her back.

Lim, who had readied her sword on the fly, was charging at Figneria, eyes pinned on just her. Lim had eagerly resisted the urge to jump into the fight between the two Vanadis. No matter how many wounds Elen accumulated, she ground her teeth, clenched her fists, and continued to watch without averting her eyes.

All for the sake of not missing this very moment.

Figneria moved her eyes slightly, and swung the sword in her left hand. The scarlet blade released crimson flames. Any skilled veteran might have stopped after flinching away in front of these raging flames. But, without the slightest hint of hesitation, Lim dashed forward as if to jump into the conflagration instead. The fire roasted her hair, burned her face, and grilled her body. While enduring the pain assailing her whole body, Lim brandished her sword while desperately keeping her eyes open.

Two metallic clangs overlapped, resounding as one. The blade of Lim’s sword snapped in the middle, and countless fragments fell to the ground while shining dully. And at the same time, the scarlet sword left Figneria’s hand, dancing through the air while leaving a trail of fire. The small sword landed several steps away from the black-haired Vanadis.

Figneria didn’t openly show the slightest hint of her internal astonishment. Neither did it create a single chip in her composure. She swung the sword in her right hand at Lim. At the same time, Lim threw the remains of her broken sword at Figneria’s face.

Figneria swung her sword through while knocking down Lim’s sword. The flames released from its golden blade assaulted Lim while greedily devouring the atmosphere.

Lim leaped sideways as if diving into the ground. The flames scorched the tips of her boots, and nothing else.

Figneria tried to attack Lim on the ground, but suddenly she sensed a stream of wind, immediately changed her thinking, and shifted her eyes to the side.

“Figneria! Your opponent is me!”

Accompanied by that shout, Elen, clad in wind, jumped across the hole, and slammed down Arifar from above Figneria’s head.

The two blades clashed, emitting a flash of silver and golden light. The gust-like blow of Elen was thwarted by Figneria’s blade. Elen’s deep crimson eyes as they burned with fighting spirit crossed Figneria’s freezingly cold, jet-black eyes.

──You did well, Lim.

Elen yelled her thanks at her blond friend in her mind. She, who was no Vanadis and didn’t have a wind protecting her like Elen, had played her role by mustering her courage. Now it was Elen’s turn to respond to Lim’s bravery.

Elen swiftly drew her sword back, just to immediately slash it sideways. Her aim was Figneria’s left hand. Figneria attempted to escape the ferocious blade by immediately bending her body backwards.

A small quantity of fresh blood joined the raging wind. A red line ran across Figneria’s left wrist. It was a graze, but she didn’t manage to fully dodge Elen’s sword.

──Her left hand isn’t broken, I guess. But it must be numb.

It likely happened when her scarlet sword was sent flying by Lim’s sword. Otherwise, Figneria would have undoubtedly summoned it back into her left hand to block Elen’s slash. After all, a Vanadis could do so at any time.

While lightly breathing in and out, Elen changed her posture. Closing the distance to a reckless extent, she unleashed a severe slash at Figneria. She couldn’t allow to waste the golden opportunity created by Lim and the precious time which was very likely limited.

The wind howled, the flames surged. Wind blades and fire pellets jumbled together with the gap in-between filled by a fierce exchange of slashes. The wind blades closing in on Figneria were devoured and extinguished by flames, the fire pellets assaulting Elen were scattered by a squall.

Figneria had no choice but to admit being at disadvantage in this violent struggle. Bargren showed its true ability when the two swords acted as a pair. But, even if she were to summon the sword that had fallen to the ground, it’d just be flicked away with her left hand still numb. Even though she tried to stall for time by restraining her opponent with her flames, it showed almost no effect since the flames got scattered by Arifar’s wind.

For a tiny fragment of a moment, Figneria wavered on what she should do next.

And within that little interval, Lim acted once more. As soon as she raised her body from the ground, she leaped towards the scarlet sword lying on the ground, and tightly grasped its hilt with both hands. As if intending to not let it go for dear life. Like this novel, support it by reading it at the translator’s blog. check novelupdates.

Judging Lim’s action as ill-intent, Bargren clad its blade in flames. The flames swayed like a living being, rose up, and burned Lim’s hands along the hilt.

A painful scream escaped Lim’s lips. And yet, she didn’t let go of the sword. In response, the flames crawled up from her hand to her arm at an astounding rate, spreading in the blink of an eye, just to fully engulf Lim’s body

“Lim…!”

Elen unconsciously stopped moving due to that gruesome sight. Figneria didn’t miss that chance, and immediately assaulted her with her sword. The flames wound into a vortex, and the wind raged. The hair of both Vanadis got enveloped by a hot wind, causing it to flutter.

The tip of Figneria’s blade grazed Elen’s arm, whereas Elen’s longsword pruned the tips of Figneria’s hair. Both of them jumped backwards, panting heavily.

“At this rate, Lim is going to be burnt to death.” Figneria croaked with an intentionally indifferent tone.

Lim’s move had been unexpected for her as well, but there was no reason for her to not make use of it.

Elen strongly bit her lower lip. Figneria was luring her into losing her calm. As she was quite aware of it herself, she had to hurt herself to keep her composure.

Astoundingly, Lim didn’t show any intent to let go of Bargren even with her whole body basked in flames. And not just that. She inclined her body forward, and used her own weight to pin the small sword against the ground. No voice came from her. She had no leeway for it. For this reason, she screamed in her mind. She frantically appealed to the draconic tool trying to burn her to cinders.

──Alexandra-sama, your previous owner, told me that she wants me to protect Elen. I replied to her that I’d do so to the full extent of my lacking abilities. Her request, that oath, doesn’t only apply to her time. It was something I ought to carry out as long as Elen continues to be herself.

──Draconic tool, you might have a duty you have to carry out yourself. And, I have one as well.

──Until the last fragment of my bones has burned down to nothing.

Even while her consciousness grew hazy due to the intense heat and oppressiveness, Lim never loosened her hold on Bargren.

 

 

 

Outside the battle of the two Vanadis and a single knight, the roughly 8,000 soldiers of both armies wounded each other, shed blood, and herded their opponents towards death on a battlefield of dread and madness.

Leitmeritz’s army had deployed 2,000 infantrymen in the center, reinforced by 800 soldiers on each wing, consisting of 500 infantrymen and 300 cavalrymen. Moreover, 400 cavalrymen were on standby in the rear as reserve. On the other hand, although Legnica’s army also used 2,000 infantrymen to hold the center, their right wing consisted of 500 cavalrymen, and their left wing was manned by 1,000 infantrymen. 500 infantrymen were waiting in the back as reserve.

But then again, those numbers only reflected the state at the beginning of the battle. At this point, both armies had each lost around 200 of their soldiers. And that number would only continue to climb until the end of the battle.

Rurick was leading Leitmeritz’s army in Lim’s stead beneath the black dragon and silver sword flags. So far he had been facing Legnica’s army without having committed any conspicuous blunders. Because he didn’t wear a helmet, his characteristically bald head clearly transmitted the snow’s coldness.

“Sir Deputy Commander, how about putting on a helmet?” A knight, who had been entrusted with the task of serving as Rurick’s adjutant, proposed with worry coloring his face.

However, the 23-years-old deputy commander laughed it off with a shake of his head.

“This way is better. After all, it nicely cools down my head which seems like it’s going to overheat anytime soon.” Rurick cracked a joke while flashing a cocksure smile, but his left hand periodically stroked his abdomen.

He complained in a voice so quiet that no one besides him would hear it, “God damn it, if I had known it’d turn out like this, I’d have taken lessons in commanding an army, and not just archery, from Lord Tigrevurmud.”

As a knight, Rurick had longed to lead several thousand soldiers, but now that he was actually trying to do so, he was weighed down by the heavy responsibility rather than rejoicing over the opportunity. Not to mention the two Vanadis who were duking it out in the middle of the battlefield.

In the terrifying case of their side being overwhelmed and routed, Elen would get stranded on the battlefield. Rurick had to avoid such a situation at any cost.

At the same time, Legnica’s army was flying the black dragon flag and the crossed blade flag. The one leading the soldiers on this side was a knight called Svirid. With his 45 years, he had worked at the governmental residence for a long time, serving three Vanadis: the current Figneria, her predecessor Sasha, and Sasha’s predecessor.

Figneria had entrusted the army’s command to him because she had seen his battle records and the way he worked at the governmental residence, allowing her to judge him as a reliable man who had accumulated lots of experience over his many years. That judgment was correct, but Figneria didn’t pay much attention as to how Svirid regarded her.

Svirid had vaguely realized the dream Figneria was secretly harboring. Svirid’s perception as a man who had served three Vanadis could be described as far superior to Figneria’s heedless aloofness. Of course, this didn’t mean that Svirid precisely knew what Figneria was thinking and planning. However, when he heard her announcement about the battle against Leitmeritz at the governmental residence, he sensed that Figneria was about to make a bet.

Considering his age and position, Svirid should have probably stopped his lord. But, he chose to obey Figneria. Svirid had also decided to bet on his new lord, diverting from his steady modus operandi of the past.

“There’s probably another way this battle might play out than getting buried while filled with anxiety.”

Svirid’s command was extremely proactive.

“If you can’t advance, make sure to at least hold your ground! Raise your voices! Wave our flags! Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed by the enemy’s momentum!”

When the battle began, Svirid had been in the rear of the army. However, without him realizing, he had urged his horse all the way to the center of the battle. Those knowing him repeatedly attacked Leitmeritz’s army in a forceful, vicious manner as they got influenced by his zeal despite being surprised about the change in Svirid.

A man called Fiovort was a member of the unit forming Legnica’s right wing. He was the son of Knight Saul who had died a heroic death in the naval battle of Olsina. Fiovort was the captain of a squad of 100 cavalrymen, but he used a sword with a long hilt, that allowed him to hold it with two hands, instead of a spear. The blade was also longer than that of a common sword.

He brandished that sword while standing at the head of his soldiers, spurred on his horse, and cut into Leitmeritz’s army with a bravery that could also be described as recklessness. He smashed the head of a soldier alongside his helmet, thrust down a soldier trying to defend with his shield, and pierced the belly of another soldier who came to face him. He had his horse trample on those he felled, and repelled the swords and spears closing in on him with the flash of a sweep. His armor was dyed with enemy blood as he pushed forward while raising a war cry. And as if being enticed by their captain’s onslaught, the cavalrymen under him charged just as furiously.

Triggered by the momentum of Fiovort’s squad, even the units on their left and right started to break through the ranks of Leitmeritz’s army.

 

◆◇◆

 

Receiving a report that his army’s left wing was under heavy pressure, Rurick’s face cramped up.

──I heard that the enemy’s right wing had less soldiers than our left wing, and yet…

It was information he had received from their scouts. Moreover, the information was correct. Legnica’s right wing consisted of 500 cavalrymen, whereas Leitmeritz fielded 500 cavalrymen and 300 infantrymen.

If armies clashed on ground with gentle undulations such as Boroszló, the side with the momentum would win unless there existed an overwhelming difference in numbers. Not only had Legnica’s right wing overturned their numerical disadvantage, but they went at it with such a fearsome force that it caused an upset.

Rurick was compelled to make a choice. He could order the left wing to hold their ground, wait for the enemy to run out of steam while rallying the ranks by making the wing retreat, or he could send out the 400 reserve cavalrymen as reinforcement for the left wing.

──It’d be a disaster if the wing collapsed, unable to hold their ground despite me having ordered them to do so.

His stomach hurt. When he thought how it was likely for the situation to get worse while he was wavering like this, his breathing became pained from all the stress. While thinking about silly stuff like what Elen, Lim, or Tigre would do in his shoes, he wasted precious time.

──If I’m going to send reinforcements, how many should I send? All of them? However, after using up the reserves in the rear, they won’t be available anymore if it looks like another part of the army could collapse.

He gritted his teeth. Then he firmly clenched his left hand, which had been stroking his abdomen, and made up his mind.

“Send all the cavalry in the rear to support the left wing! Make them hold out with all their might!”

After receiving the deputy commander’s order, the runner curtly saluted, and then darted off. Rurick spat out his breath while watching the runner from behind.

“…Once this battle finishes, I’ll try to take lessons from Lord Tigrevurmud.”

Thanks to Rurick’s decision, Leitmeritz’s left wing barely managed to endure. Some soldiers formed a cluster by lining up their shields, forcing back the enemy’s ferocious attacks. Other soldiers picked up the swords and spears of their dead comrades, and brandished those, repelling the approaching enemies.

The cavalry unit, which had its numbers bolstered by the reinforcement, crashed into Legnica’s right wing from the front. The bodies of their horses slammed against each other as their riders wielded their swords and spears. Blood and sweat got scattered in addition to angry bellows, screams, and neighing. No matter which affiliation, once a rider fell off his horse, he got trampled to death by a storm of horse hooves, never getting back up ever again while only leaving a corpse with a smashed helmet full of bloody mush and a dented armor with a broken body behind. Just like some riders got crushed to death underneath their collapsing horses, others had their hands and arms bitten off by excited horses.

At the time when Rurick received the report of Aram’s death, Rurick could only confirm it with a stony face, and had the messenger fall back. Aram had been leading one of the infantry units of the left wing, but they had attempted to challenge Fiovort’s squad in order to hold them back. Although they had succeeded in ensnaring Fiovort, Aram himself had gone to the bloody mud, and almost half of his unit had perished alongside him.

Men and horses covered the ground in piles in a section of the battlefield that was dominated by a mad rush and destruction. The momentum of Legnica’s army wasn’t abating much if at all, and there were no signs that the damage to Leitmeritz’s left wing would be kept short. Even after dispatching the reserve, one report after the other followed, crying danger to Rurick.

As of yet the left wing was still holding out. However, he had no spare soldiers available anymore. It was possible to pull units from the center or right wing, but if he did so, those sections would likely get into trouble.

──Did I misread the situation?

Several streaks of sweat ran down Rurick’s face as he regretted and despaired. The battle was in the process of tilting in Legnica’s favor.

──Is Aram’s death going to spell our defeat?

Rurick couldn’t determine whether his entire body trembled out of sadness or rage. He pondered whether he should pull soldiers from the right wing’s rear.

It was then that the ever-changing battlefield took a new turn.

 

◆◇◆

 

Svirid, who had been focusing fire on Leitmeritz’s left wing, suddenly looked back. At this time he had advanced even further forward from Legnica’s center. Because of that, he had only watched Legnica’s soldiers, who were right in the middle of tension and exaltation, and Legnica’s flags depicting a scarlet and golden blade crossing each other diagonally.

──What…?

Svirid’s gaze went beyond the soldiers of his own army, staring in the far distance. His experience of 45 years allowed him to sense the change in the atmosphere. Just when he thought, Don’t tell me…, a single soldier appeared next to him while panting.

Leaning in to Svirid, the soldier reported in a whisper, “Lebus’ army has appeared in our right rear. At a distance of one belsta.”

Svirid’s eyes flew wide open, and he almost allowed a growling “No way!” to pass his lips. He had known from scout reports that Lebus’ army was heading this way. But, at that time they had been more than 15 belsta away. Legnica’s army should have been able to win this battle before Lebus’ army would reach this place.

──Just when the hell did they cover this much ground!? No, wait. Why in our right rear?

A map of the area, including this battlefield, expanded in Svirid’s mind. Boroszló was a steppe with few ups and downs. There was one hill, and a river also streamed through the area, but both were a distance away from the battlefield.

“What are their numbers?”

“Judging by the number of flags, I think around 3,000.”

Moments ago he had resisted, but this time it was impossible. A grinding of teeth involuntarily escaped Svirid’s mouth. He had guessed how Lebus’ army had approached all the way up to there.

“They used sleighs…!?”

The enemy we discovered must have been a decoy. While drawing our attention in that direction, the main force of Lebus’ army traveled the frozen river with sleighs, rushing to this location. The river is certainly a good distance away from this battlefield, but even infantrymen can reach this place within a quarter koku. Lebus is situated in Zhcted’s northwest. The coldness during winter is as harsh as in Legnica or even worse. They’re accustomed to traveling frozen rivers on sleighs, and I doubt they’d have that much of a problem scraping together the necessary number of sleighs from the cities and towns within their principality.

Svirid hadn’t realized that part because Lebus’ army was quite a distance away from the river when he received the report from his scouts. His face turned pale from shock and anxiety. He could feel how the victory they were about to grasp was about to slip out of their hands. Like the snow which fell to the ground, just to melt away in the next moment.

 

◆◇◆

 

3,000 infantrymen stood in the right rear of Legnica’s army. They didn’t wear any armor. Instead they had covered their bodies in thick pelts while wearing leather undergarments atop underwear made out of wool. They had helmets on their heads, but even those were stuffed out with fur down to the parts that touched their ears.

They were Lebus’ soldiers led by 『Princess of the Thunder Swirl』 Elizavetta Fomina. The flags flying high up in the air next to the black dragon flag showed a golden belt drawing a splendid curve on violet ground.

Liza, who stood at the head of the army, didn’t wear any pelts, with her body clad by nothing more than a deep violet dress. The jet-black whip in her right hand protected her from the cold. Just as Svirid had conjectured, Liza had gathered a large amount of sleighs and dogs to pull the sleighs, and arrived here after hurrying across the frozen river.

“It looks like we somehow made it in time.”

Looking at the battle unfolding several hundred alsin ahead, Liza lightly breathed out in relief. It was also a possibility that everything would have been over when they got here. After all, Legnica and Leitmeritz’s armies had decided on this area to decide their fate.

“According to our scouts, Leitmeritz’s army seems to hold out, albeit under heavy pressure.” A knight next to Liza reported.

The knight’s name was Naum. Liza nodded slightly without looking at him.

“It sounds good enough to call it good news.”

The worst case for Liza would have been a victory by Legnica’s army and Figneria as well her soldiers still having enough spare energy. In such a case, Lebus’ army would have very likely been crushed in an unsightly manner.

──So the battle between Elen and Figneria still hasn’t reached a conclusion.

Of course Liza didn’t possess the ability to see through a battlefield. But, because she was a Vanadis herself, she could tell. If the battle between the two Vanadis had ended, the loser’s army would have collapsed by now.

Liza gazed at Legnica’s army. Rage filling her golden eye, and fighting spirit dwelling in her blue eye; both flickered as they awaited the moment of eruption. Naum looked at his lord, waiting for her to order the charge.

For Liza this would register as a return match. Moreover, seeing how their army stood in the enemy’s back and how that very enemy was fighting Leitmeritz’s army, the enemy would be hard pressed to deal with them. It should be a golden opportunity to charge and overrun Legnica’s army.

And yet, the order coming out of Liza’s mouth was contrary to what Naum had expected.

“Advance without breaking the ranks. We’ll swiftly retreat after delivering a single blow against the enemy.”

“…Will that be enough?”

“It’ll be plenty. Above all, I want to avoid this turning into a battle royale.” Liza shook her head.

Leitmeritz’s army didn’t know that Lebus’ army would show up here. After all, Liza had no time to get in touch with Elen. But then again, there were two reasons why Liza had returned to Lebus while accompanied by Olga. First, for the sake of staying vigilant since Earl Kazakov had been showing suspicious movements. Second, for the sake of getting ready for Figneria who had returned to Legnica after escaping the capital.

Liza had invaded Legnica with the intent of restraining her opponent as much as possible while sounding out Figneria’s plans. She had only yesterday learned about the movements of Leitmeritz’s army. If she and her soldiers rushed onto the battlefield here, they’d be in danger of being mistaken as enemies.

Naum fully understood the meaning behind Liza’s words. He only asked to make sure.

“But, leaving it at just one blow feels somewhat lacking.”

Liza slightly tilted her head, looking at Naum. Suddenly she burst into laughter.

“Let me say it once more. It’ll be plenty.”

Her mortification and anger over having been defeated by Figneria during their duel in the capital were still smoldering deep in her heart. However, she had experienced many losses so far, making her fully aware how dangerous it’d be to surrender herself to such emotions.

If some fateful connection between Figneria and her had existed, Liza might have felt conflicted as well, but their relationship was limited to one defeat for Liza and one win for Figneria. Thus Liza could differentiate with ease.

In concert with its owner’s fighting will, the whip glowed whiteley while cladding itself in lightning. The whip’s name was 『Lightning Flash of Crushing Calamity』 Valitsaif. Liza raised her draconic tool overhead.

Golden glitter surged out of the whip’s tip as it drew a beautiful arc in the air. Piercing through the atmosphere as if tearing it apart, it connected heaven and earth. A thunder so loud that it even drowned out the battlefield’s clamor roared, and the horns blown by Lebus’ soldiers followed its lead.

I don’t know where to find Elen on the battlefield, but it’d likely tell her that I’m here with my army. Of course Figneria, too.

Liza began to haughtily stride amidst the snowfall. Lebus’ soldiers followed her, stamping on the frozen ground while tightly gripping their swords and axes.

At the time, when they had reduced the distance between them and their enemy to a hundred alsin, arrows came flying at them all at once from Legnica’s army. Without a single twitch of her eyebrows, Liza lashed out her whip. According to her will, Valitsaif became twice as long as it freely danced through the air while crushing the rain of arrows. Lebus’ soldiers raised loud cheers amongst the dispersing embers of lightning.

“So they’re coming at us…”

Liza raised Thunder Swirl above her head once more. At the end of her line of sight, Legnica’s soldiers had started to move. She estimated that their commander had dispatched the soldiers, which had been on standby in the rear, in order to hold them back.

“Follow me!”

Liza kicked off the ground. Her soldiers ran after her while roaring. Legnica’s soldiers tightly clenched their weapons and fiercely dashed towards them as well. Eyes met, bloodlust entwined, the dull gleam of swords and spears hitting eyes, and the blood circulating through the bodies seething in excitement.

Both armies clashed. Liza swept her whip to the side, hitting five Legnician soldiers at once while breaking their shields, helmets and heads, or slapping them to the ground. Even those who barely escaped death, were unable to get back up with their consciousness on the verge of fading. The following Legnician soldiers didn’t falter even after witnessing this terrifying spectacle. Their opponent was a Vanadis. If they were to get flustered over some sacrifices, they wouldn’t be able to close distance in the next thousand years. Stepping over the corpses of their comrades, they tried to assault Liza.

Liza was calm and coldhearted. After a glance at the swarm of enemies, she brandished her whip while flipping over the hem of her dress. As the atmosphere boomed, one Legnician soldier after the other collapsed while spouting blood.

With her red hair fluttering and her body clad in lightning, Liza lorded over the enemy soldiers. Her appearance truly suited her name as princess of the battlefield.

“Don’t leave everything to our Vanadis! Grab the deeds of arms with your own hands!” Naum scolded the soldiers from next to Liza.

Taking a heart, Lebus’ soldiers slashed away at Legnica’s soldiers.

While dragging an enemy soldier, who had challenged her from the front, to the ground with her whip, Liza glared at Naum with a frown.

“I was sure I told you to not go too far. Please don’t stir them up too much.”

“Excuse me, milady. But, our soldiers are angry. Very much so. Can’t you understand at least this much?”

Liza only snorted without saying anything in return.

Because of Lebus’ attack, Legnica’s predominance on the battlefield completely crumbled. Svirid, who commanded Legnica’s army, had ordered to send the 500 infantrymen, which he had kept as a reserve, to meet Lebus’ army, but within almost no time, he received a report that they had been crushed.

Once Lebus’ army defeated and scattered the 500 infantrymen, they orderly retreated without trying to cut in any further. However, if one were to think that things had become easier for Legnica’s army because of this, it’d actually be the opposite. The threat of Lebus’ army always loomed in their back.

This was the moment when Legnica’s army, who had been resolutely attacking Leitmeritz’s army, lost its momentum. After learning about the presence of Lebus’ army, they temporarily stopped advancing, reorganized their ranks, and tried to get ready for attacks from behind.

However, in terms of the result, this was a mistake since it gave Leitmeritz’s army enough time to come back to life. As soon as Leitmeritz’s soldiers shifted towards a counteroffensive after having tenaciously defended against a fierce onslaught up until then, they started to gradually overwhelm Legnica’s army.

Svirid fervently moved his soldiers around, switching his army’s mode to defense, but then he received a report that Fiovort had died in action and that his squad had taken flight at the right wing.

 

 

The battle between Elen and Figneria had been continuing in the middle of the battlefield. Several places on their bodies were marked by fresh wounds. The fierce onslaught by Elen, ignoring the pain screaming at her from all over her body, and the difference in weapon range allowed her blade to reach the black-haired Vanadis’ body. Lim being burned alive by Bargren’s flames spurred on Elen’s fighting spirit even further, and it looked as if her slashes had become even sharper.

It was at this moment that both witnessed lightning flashing in the rear of Legnica’s army, accompanied by the blowing of horns. Both clearly understood that something had happened.

“No way for me to be saved by her on this soil…” Elen muttered unintentionally.

She hadn’t expected for Liza to show up here. Elen had believed that Liza had simply remained in Lebus while being cautious of Kazakov and Figneria.

Elen looked back at Figneria with a serious expression.

“What are you going to do?” She asked curtly.

The flow of the battle had shifted towards defeat for Legnica’s army. Those two, who had spent many years on the battlefield, could clearly perceive the change permeating the battlefield around them.

Even if Figneria were to kill Elen, causing Leitmeritz’s army to flee, they’d be forced to fight Lebus’ army without a break. Figneria would likely need to fight against Liza as well.

She overwhelmed Liza when they fought in the capital, but as this would be her second battle, the outcome would become quite uncertain. On top of Figneria being wounded and exhausted, Liza was acquainted with her fighting style.

“Let’s see.” Figneria lowered her eyes towards her left hand without answering right away.

The numbness had vanished a good while ago. However, she still hadn’t summoned Bargren. The small sword with the scarlet blade kept scorching Lim’s body as of yet. Lim still not having died stemmed from Figneria having told Bargren to not finish her off. She had done so because she thought she could lead Elen into panicking by continuing to use Bargren like that.

──In the end she’ll probably die by your blades anyway, but rather than your flames…

Figneria called out to Bargren in her mind. The crimson flames burning Lim’s body soundlessly disappeared. Immediately following, a faint light wrapped up her left hand. And as soon as the light dispersed, she was grasping a small sword emitting a vermilion glimmer.

Lim didn’t move while crouching on the ground. It looked as though she had fainted.

Elen wanted to rush over to her right away, but Figneria blocked her way with both blades held up.

“So you plan to go on, huh?” Elen snarled lowly.

Albeit only faintly, she had hoped for another outcome.

Figneria answered with a smile blooming on her face, “My soldiers are still fighting.”

Why were they fighting Leitmeritz? Before heading into this battle, Figneria had given the following reason for this battle to her retainers: “Earl Pardu, Eugene Shevarin, is plotting against the crown, aiming to take the throne for himself. The Vanadis of Leitmeritz, Lebus, and Polesia are backing the earl on this. Even me having been put under house arrest for fighting against Lebus’ Vanadis was part of their plot. First we’re going to crush Leitmeritz.”

There might have been some among her retainers who had harbored doubts about her explanation. Moreover, there must have been some feeling reluctant to fight Leitmeritz. Elen and the previous Vanadis of Legnica, Alexandra Alshavin were close friends, allowing Leitmeritz and Legnica to build a friendly relationship. There were many occasions where they stood side-by-side, fighting common threats, rather than turning blades at each other.

And yet, despite all that, her retainers and soldiers obeyed the order. For Figneria’s sake.

She couldn’t afford to throw the fight at this point. Flames licked up from her swords, forming a belt that engulfed Figneria’s body.

“I’ll defeat you. And then I’ll also kill Lebus’ Vanadis.”

Elen ground her molars while shuddering at the cocksure statement. If it was Figneria, she might really be able to pull this off. Figneria’s voice was teeming with a drive, making Elen believe so.

──However, for her to still have left enough power to use a draconic art…

Arifar warned Elen by emitting a gentle breeze. A smile formed on Elen’s lips. She knew that she likely wouldn’t be able to escape or avoid this blow.

──In that case, there’s only one thing I have to do.

Elen pointed Silver Flash at Figneria. The draconic tool answered Elen’s will, creating a furious wind around her. Earth turned into dust, whirling up into the air. Many wind spirals overlapped with each other, beginning to form a maelstrom reminiscent of a tornado.

The fire belt coiling around Figneria’s body transformed once more. Making the ground around her shine golden for an instant, the flames swelled up grandly while being dyed crimson again. Turning into two huge pillars of fire, the flames towered on the left and right of Figneria. The two blades constantly sent new flames into the pillars, boosting the force of the fires while scattering a rain of fire rather than embers, making the pillars twist and sway. Their gleam kept increasing while they filled the surroundings with heat, as they grew up to a size seemingly piercing the heavens.

The number of soldiers watching the fight of the two Vanadis had dwindled significantly, but the few remaining spectators had retreated another 20 steps from where they stood at the beginning of the duel. Even though they stood this far away, the wind and heat teased their cheeks, telling them that they were anything but safe where they stood.

──Tigre.

While amassing the power of wind in Arifar’s blade, Elen thought about Tigre. He was her dear lover who had accepted all of her, be it her as a Vanadis or as a simple girl. He was half of her future who would walk the path of life with her. If he were to be right in front of her, she might have hugged him without any hesitation. At this point it was already fine to say that the youth had become Elen’s reason to live.

──I’ll fight to the bitter end and prevail so as to meet you once more. I’m sure you’d be thinking the very same in my shoes as well. Let’s create many, many memories together. And then. I’ll brag about you to Vissarion when I meet him again someday. I’ll tell him that he’d never find a man as wonderful and great as you, even if he were to search the entire continent. Of course I’ll brag to Sasha, too.

Her ruby eyes gleamed as they overflowed with vitality and fighting spirit. However, Figneria didn’t lose out in that respect as her black eyes had violent flames flickering deep within.

Both of them already stood at the right distance. Figneria kicked off the ground.

“──Revolving Twin BlazeFranrot!”

Figneria had finished her draconic art. The very long golden and scarlet fire pillars glided across the ground as if drawing arcs. Even just the abnormal heat emitted from their surfaces would doubtlessly turn any man into ash with ease. The two pillars crossed and fused, transforming into a huge wall of entwining crimson and golden fire as it approached Elen. It swallowed her faster than she could unleash her own draconic art.

Figneria’s eyes widened in surprise. She couldn’t believe that Elen would have erred in her judgment this late in the game. However, her own pillar had definitely devoured Elen.

The draconic tool in her two hands informed her of what was happening within the pillar of raging fire, telling her that something was squirming.

Figneria put herself on guard while looking up to the flame pillar, and just then, a voice thundered, “──Tear the atmosphere apart!Ley Adomos

A part of the pillar was blown apart from within. The storm vortex unleashed from there was hurled at Figneria. But, she pulled through by crossing Bargren.

The power of the wind storm wasn’t that terrifying as it had likely exhausted most of its force when destroying the pillar. And yet, the battering of the storm, which would likely blow her away if she relaxed her attention, was plenty to pin down Figneria.

And then Figneria saw it. How a single girl, clad in wind, swooped down on her from within the pillar. Countless embers danced around her body as the wind’s protection had apparently reached its limit. Her golden and red hair ornaments were burned down by the flames, turning into charcoal and crumbling within an instant.

Elen screamed something. Figneria also screamed something back at her while glaring. It might have been their opponent’s names, or otherwise yells indicating their fighting spirits. Even the two women, who had screamed in the first place, couldn’t make head or tails of what was being said.

Elen slashed Figneria with her longsword while being in the air. Figneria thrust out the small sword in her right hand high into the air.

The longsword tore through Figneria’s left shoulder, digging all the way to her chest while cutting through her collarbone. On the other hand, the small sword reached Elen’s forehead, making it bleed. But, it ended up short. The scattered blood was evaporated by the flames and carried away by the wind, soundlessly blessing the ground with its nutrients.

With her posture falling apart in the air, Elen tumbled onto the ground. Meanwhile Figneria stood stock still while her black uniform began to dye crimson.

 

◆◇◆

 

The instant she received an impact on her left shoulder, a certain scene vividly played back in Figneria’s mind.

In the room of some inn, Figneria sat on a bed next to a man. The man was in his mid thirties. He had a medium build, and his left cheek was blemished by a white scar. The man’s name was Vissarion. He was the leader of 『Silver Gale』, one of the few men she could allow herself to face unguarded.

Figneria was sitting on the bed next to Vissarion. Both of them wore no more than thin layers of clothes, and a wine bottle as well as two cups stood on the small table next to the bed.

“Is that your idea of a country?” Vissarion laughed while looking at Figneria. “There are some parts I’d consider as dodgy, but it suits you.”

“You’re not going to say that it’s stupid?”

A faint provocation, not just surprise, resonated in Figneria’s voice.

“It’s different from the country I came up with.”

Always being the one to attack first. Continuing to keep the hegemony of the battles at hand. This was Figneria’s idea of a country. It might earn the animosity and hatred of the neighboring countries, but a country wasn’t a structure that could move its soldiers just because of that.

“I told you, it’s fine like that,” Vissarion continued his words while laughing, “Zhcted, Brune, Asvarre, and Muozinel. Each of them has a king, nobles, and citizens, and yet all of them are different. It’s okay for all kinds of countries to exist. Of course, it might cause friction, but I think it’s the duty of a king to somehow handle all these problems.”

The instant she heard, “I’d like to see the country you thought of,” Figneria casually cast her eyes down, hiding her own bashfulness.

Without any prior notice, the scenery reflected in front of her eyes changed into something completely different.

She was standing in a wasteland. No sounds or smells tickled her senses. A short distance away, things started to look indistinct. Nevertheless, she knew that she was standing on a battlefield.

A single man was lying at her feet. It was Vissarion. A big cut ran through his chest from his left shoulder. A fatal wound. Why did she know this? Because she had been the one that caused this injury.

“Why…?”

The voice passing her lips was surprisingly frail. She hadn’t planned for things to turn out like this.

It was a pursuit. The side Figneria belonged to had achieved victory. Vissarion had served as rear guard, protecting his comrades who had been late in escaping. And then both of them clashed. Elen and Lim were at Vissarion’s side.

There was the option to not fight. If Figneria had let them go without a word and without pointing her blade at him, Vissarion might have succeeded in fleeing the battlefield together with Elen and Lim.

However, Figneria didn’t choose that option. On the battlefield, it was a rule to kill acquaintances on the enemy side without making them suffer. That was an ironclad rule Figneria knew of. If she let them escape, swayed by her emotions, she and her comrades could possibly get attacked later on. Moreover, her allies would conclude that she had allowed them to get away because she was a traitor. Either way, a mercenary, who allowed acquaintances among the enemy to escape, would be alienated, and lose the place they belonged to.

Figneria had experienced slaying people, with whom she fought side-by-side on some battlefields, as enemies on another battlefield on countless occasions. Such was the life of a mercenary.

For this reason she pointed her sword at Vissarion. Just like she had done on many battlefields so far. Vissarion responded by readying his sword without even trying to run away.

It was crystal clear that they’d hurt each other and that he could possibly die, but as a warrior, Vissarion exceeded Figneria in ability. And yet Figneria thought that it’d be fine.

She had been living by wandering from one battlefield to the next as a mercenary. She hadn’t even tried to think of another way to live her life. Luckily, she never went through any pitiful experiences as a warrior or as a woman.

There was the part of her thinking that it’d be great to die without suffering much if possible, but she was well aware that this was but a lofty hope.

Only now she believed that the time back then had been thriving with many emotions. There was her desire to measure herself against Vissarion’s abilities. And there was her wish to perish on the battlefield as a warrior. There was her conviction that Vissarion wouldn’t do anything as lowly as disgracing her after cutting her down. She could even come to terms with being killed, if it was by his hands. And, she was certain that he’d definitely remember her in the future.

In short, she ended up presuming upon him.

Sword struck sword. Looks crossed. The two whittled down their lives in a corner of the battlefield which was steadily heading for its conclusion with the setting sun as a backdrop.

And eventually, a conclusion Figneria hadn’t expected arrived. She slipped past Vissarion’s sword, and injured him fatally.

When Vissarion fell, Figneria realized that the blade of a broken sword was partly buried in his waist. making it questionable whether he’d have lived even without having fought Figneria.

Figneria got flustered, but didn’t allow it to show in her attitude. It was as if her emotions temporarily froze over due to the heavy shock. She knelt down, picking up Vissarion’s hand.

However, no words left her mouth. There were too many things she wanted to tell him, and yet all of them got stuck in her throat.

Vissarion looked up to her, faintly lifting the corners of his mouth. It was as if he was laughing. At that moment, small bubbles of blood made their way out through the corners of his mouth.

Merely one single word managed to reach Figneria’s ears. To Figneria it seemed as if he had said, “Dream.” And before she could ask what he meant, the light faded from his eyes.

Dream. Vissarion dreamed of founding a country. Did he grieve over being unable to realize that dream? Did he hate her for having stolen this dream from him? But, in either case, it’d have been unlikely for him to have smiled like that.

When she lifted her face, her eyes met Elen’s. Those ruby eyes fiercely burning with pure, unfiltered rage.

Suddenly, Elen’s face swayed, looking like there were two of it. Her hazy consciousness was pulled back into reality.

The one standing front of Figneria was Eleonora Viltaria, holding the alias of 『Wind Princess of the Silver Flash』, not the mercenary Eleonora who was a member of 『Silver Gale』.

At long last Figneria perceived that she had been cut by Elen. Her not feeling any pain was very likely owed to her body dipping in the abyss of death. She felt like her travel through her memories had taken a long time, but in reality it lasted only a few moments.

Pressing a hand against the wound reaching from her left shoulder to her chest, Figneria smiled. She was amused by the fact that she had been cut in the same place where she had fatally injured Vissarion in the past.

“──Elen.” Figneria called out to the silver-haired girl with the tone she had used long ago.

Elen still kept Arifar at the ready, but her face betrayed her confusion after having noticed the change in Figneria.

“Won’t you take my head?”

Elen shook her head. Figneria was Vissarion’s enemy, but Elen knew that Figneria couldn’t be saved any longer. She didn’t feel the need to do anything further.

“I see.” Figneria nodded and pondered whether she should pass on the word Vissarion had left behind at his final moment to Elen, his daughter.

Silence continued to fill the atmosphere alongside the wind. Figneria exhaled, softly blowing out the silence. Figneria had decided to remain quiet. Elen had said that she followed her own dreams. Figneria suspected that it’d be unnecessary to her in that case. That it’d be alright to keep it to herself.

The blood, which continued to flow through Figneria’s body, dyed the black clothes covering her skin in a dark red, and created a big pool of blood at her feet. Despite that, Figneria kept standing tall, not showing the slightest hint of swaying. She didn’t drop Bargren either.

“If you’re not going to take my head, I’ll put an end to it in my own way. Sorry for being selfish, but please take care of Legnica.”

This was her request as a Vanadis. After confirming Elen’s nod, Figneria lowered her eyes at the two small swords in her hands.

“I’ll have you carry out one last job.”

She smiled wryly in her mind as it had been less than a year that Bargren had accompanied her. Yet, as a warrior, she undoubtedly considered these two swords as partners and close friends. All of this was owed to her own worthlessness.

The golden blade and the scarlet blade each emitted a dull glow. That gleam looked to Figneria as if they were blaming her, thanking her, or both at the same time. She crossed the blades in front of her chest. Flames gushed out of the two blades. The flames spread towards Figneria like living creatures, and then wrapped up her whole body in no time, turning into a single pillar of fire.

Elen widened her eyes in surprise, and Legnica’s soldiers, who had been watching from a distance, wailed in grief and shock.

Figneria, who had become a black shadow within the red hot flame didn’t budge, nor did she utter a single sound.

Elen watched that spectacle with a bated breath. Just the cackling of the blazing flames reached her ears. The black shadow faded within the pillar of fire as if melting away. It didn’t even take ten breaths for it to vanish completely.

And then, just when Elen thought the pillar swelled up drastically, it slowly shrunk down while flickering. It became as small as a bonfire, and then it dwindled even further to the size of the fire in a lamp, before finally disappearing altogether without even leaving a trace of its existence behind. Just the two swords kept radiating a golden and a scarlet glow on the ground.

Elen walked up, and picked up the two swords. Even though they had been within scorching heat moments ago, they now carried a coldness as it was characteristic to metal. Elen gently hugged the two swords as if cherishing something precious.

 

 

 

 

──Vissarion, please take care of Figneria.

She prayed for the peace of Figneria’s soul not to the gods, but her foster father. She thought that this was how it should be. Like this story? Support the translation by reading it at Infinite Novel Translations.

Almost at the same instant as she immersed herself in sentimental thoughts, Elen put on a stern expression as Vanadis, and shouted at the top of her lungs while hoisting her longsword into the air, “Figneria Alshavin ended her own life! Soldiers of Legnica, cast away your weapons and surrender yourself! I shall promise you in the name of Eleonora Viltaria that you will be treated as honored warriors!”

A commotion ran through the soldiers. The news of Figneria’s death rapidly spread among Legnica’s army. A part of their soldiers tried to continue fighting amidst the touting horns, but most of them obeyed Elen’s instructions, and surrendered after throwing down their weapons or chose to run away. They had lost all reason to fight rather than guessing that they had lost any chance at victory.

Svirid, who served as deputy commander of Legnica’s forces, decided to capitulate. His face when he informed the soldiers of his decision had lost all color due to the shock and fatigue, looking just like the face of a stone statue. After pausing for a while, remorseful sobbing broke its way out of his trembling lips.

Rurick, who had been leading Leitmeritz’s army, didn’t change his grave expression as he was wrapped up by pain over having lost a comrade-in-arms and actually experienced a feeling of exhaustion and liberation rather than a joy over victory.

This spelled the end of the “Battle of Boroszló.” The casualties on Leitmeritz’s side amounted to close to 400. The losses on Legnica’s side surpassed 800. Either side had their injured people doubling those numbers.

Not even a handful of ash was left behind at the place where Figneria met her end. The sole proof of her death was the scene that had burned itself into the minds of Elen and the soldiers who watched it.

 

 

When she came to, Limalisha was lying inside a tent. The weak light provided by the lamp hanging from the ceiling seemed awfully bright. Not to mention her face or torso, she felt a strange sensation across almost all of her body, and as soon as she stirred, a pain as if having a cramp fiercely assailed her.

She groaned in reflex, causing someone, who had apparently heard it, to peek at her from the side.

“You came around?”

Silver hair, ruby eyes, and the face of the girl who was Lim’s best friend and at the same time her cherished lord. Lim tried to say, “Eleonora-sama,” but nothing but a hoarse croaking escaped her lips.

“Stay still. You suffered burns all over your body.” A faint timbre of blame resonated within the gentle voice.

Elen wasn’t wearing her uniform, but loose morning clothes covered by a wool jacket. Her hair missed its ornaments, bandages were twined around her forehead, and a cloth was plastered to her cheek. Lim was certain that she’d find heaps of bandages beneath Elen’s clothes as well. On top of that, the fragrance of medicines tickled her nose.

Looking up to the ceiling of the tent, Lim slowly, very slowly, recalled what had happened before she fainted.

While Elen and Figneria duked it out, she had pinned down one of Bargren’s blades. So as to not allow its return into Figneria’s hand. Back then Lim was fully absorbed with doing what she believed she could do. And thus her whole body got scalded by Bargren’s flames.

“The battle…”

“It’s over. Figneria is dead.” Elen answered with a voice that felt indifferent.

Lim inclined her head slightly as if to call it in question. She couldn’t perceive any strong emotions towards Figneria from Elen’s voice.

“Lim. Can your eyes see? Can your ears hear? How is your nose doing? Can you drink water?”

Elen brought a silver cup filled with water close to Lim’s face. Now that she had been asked, her throat was dry, causing Lim to nod lightly.

Elen gently inserted her left arm under Lim’s back, and tenderly helped her to sit up. At that moment Lim finally realized that her body was draped in bandages, helping her to identify the origin of the strange sensation she was feeling for a while now. She also comprehended that she was currently resting in the supreme commander’s tent.

While making Lim drink the water sip by sip, Elen told her about the battle.

“Liza arrived with her soldiers. It’s looks like we managed to win because of that.”

“Elizavetta-sama has…” Lim mumbled in blank amazement.

It was a weird feeling. After all, they had been at each other’s throats like cat and mouse until just a year ago.

“It will not do if I do not properly thank her.”

“Sure, but let me tell you this much: it can wait until you’ve healed up.”

Elen shifted the topic to Rurick’s tough struggle as deputy commander without touching on things like the losses among the soldiers. However, once it came to Figneria, her expression became complicated. The battle against her held an important meaning for Elen. It was unthinkable that it wouldn’t affect her emotionally.

“──Elen,” Lim used her friend’s pet name to call out to her, “We were the ones who defeated Figneria. Okay?”

Lim would never allow something like letting Elen shoulder all of it by herself. Seemingly having understood those feelings, a smile revealed itself on Elen’s lips, and she said, “Take your time and rest up.”

“Ah right. Lim, I have a little request.” Elen said with a serious expression, apparently having thought of something.

Lim urged her on to continue by nodding her head. But, she immediately regretted having done that.

“You like Tigre, don’t you?”

Lim got clearly flustered by the unforeseen question.

“W-Why w-would you m-mention Lord Tigrevurmud h-here…?”

“That’s of course because it’s a request related to him. So, how about it?”

Lim averted her eyes from Elen with her face bright red up to her ears. She almost fainted in pain as her blushing passed on the pain of her burns. And yet, it probably wasn’t that much of an embarrassing and cruel question either. The youth was her lord’s lover after all.

“I-I will not deny it…” Lim finally squeezed out that much with her voice trembling.

However, this wasn’t enough for Elen.

“Be more clear… No, I’m sorry for the way I’ve asked. It was a fairly blunt way, so forgive me for that. What I want to know is whether you like him to the extent of wanting to give birth to his children.”

“Children…!?” Lim cried out loudly with her eyes wide open.

At the moment she stirred, her whole body screamed at her again. After putting up with it until the pain died down, she noticed how Elen was staring at her with a serious look, and recovered her calm, even if only a bit.

“Is this possibly about what Vissarion had said he was wishing for us?”

By the way, Lim had also forgotten about it. After losing Vissarion, the mercenaries kept leaving 『Silver Gale』 one after the other, vanishing without finishing the aftermath of the loss. It simply wasn’t the time to think about such things.

“That’s not all.” Elen answered and told Lim about her promise with Sasha. “At the moment of her death, Sasha entrusted me with the wish she couldn’t fulfill despite desiring it. For Sasha it was important enough to have me promise her to carry her wish on.”

The Vanadis who left this world, as if her life had completely burned out in the end, after being struck by disease. Thinking about her circumstances cast a sad expression on Lim’s face.

Elen continued, “Fortunately, I have Tigre. Even without my promise to Sasha, I’d want to bear Tigre’s children. But to be honest, I’m also slightly scared. Do you remember Oksana?”

Lim nodded. Oksana was one of the women in charge of miscellaneous chores in 『Silver Gale』 . She was a bright woman who doted on Elen and Lim. Later she fell in love with one of the mercenary band’s members, and married him. All the members, starting with Vissarion, blessed their bond.

But, their happiness didn’t last long. Oksana passed away during childbirth, and the child who should have been born, died as well. After the husband buried his wife and child, he asked Vissarion to allow him to leave the band and departed to some other place. It must have been painful for him to stay with the mercenary band which was full of memories of his time with his wife.

A pregnant woman dying during the birth was a possibility.

“It’s not like I can confidently say that I’ll be definitely able to give birth to his children. So, it’d be a huge relief if you could become his concubine, just like me, and give birth to his children. Of course, I don’t mind you giving birth to his child first. It’d also comply with Vissarion’s wish.”

“In that case, there’s also Titta, right?”

Both of them knew that Titta had confessed her love to Tigre and slept with him. And Elen had permitted Titta to do so. Even Elen couldn’t get in-between the string tying Tigre and Titta together as it was something that had been spun between those two ever since they became aware of the world around them while living together.

“This is what I want to request from you.” Elen declared with her red eyes gleaming. “I’ll succeed Sasha’s wish, and I’ll have you succeed my wish. How about it?”

Lim smiled wryly, partially because she was confused and partially because she was grateful for Elen taking her into consideration.

There was no doubt that Elen was talking about her true feelings here. But, it was also correct that she was trying to give Lim an excuse for loving Tigre. And, without such a reason, Lim would likely never try to advance her relationship with Tigre from where it was now. Also, Lim vaguely guessed why Elen had suddenly started to talk about something like this.

──She is kindly trying to give me a reason to cheer up and live on.

Within 『Silver Gale』 they fortified the will to survive among heavily injured comrades by asking about their wishes and promising them rewards and posts. Vissarion did that for anyone as long as they were suffering from injuries beyond a certain level.

At first she had wondered about the purpose behind him doing this, but eventually truth dawned upon her. After all, she witnessed several times how someone, who was so lively that you wouldn’t expect them to die at all, would be a cold corpse the next morning.

After Elen had understood it as well, she had started to imitate Vissarion.

“Let’s see. I will decide after consulting with Lord Tigrevurmud. But──” Lim revealed an impish smile, which was unusual for her, and added, “──as for me, I would like to see your child, Eleonora-sama.”

That counterattack had more of an impact than she had expected. Even though it was a topic she had brought up in the first place, Elen’s cheeks flushed red. And yet, even while being embarrassed, she nodded with a happy smile.

“Sure, I’ll also allow you to hold it at that time. ──Anyway, I think it’s about time for you to take a rest.”

When Lim answered, “Okay,” Elen quietly stood up, added, “I feel like wanting to hold your child as well,” with a smile, and left the tent.

While halfway entrusting her consciousness to the sleepiness swooping down on her, Lim wondered why she was alive despite having her body burned by the flames for such a long time. Enduring the pain, she carefully tried to move her hands and feet. All fingers were still present. She could also move her arms and legs. And since she could look around her like this, her eyes were both fine as well.

──Did Bargren adjust the flames? However, assuming Bargren has its own consciousness, it should have no reason to do so. Maybe Figneria ordered Bargren to do so? Assuming she tried to lure Elen into panic by tormenting me for a long time to find an opening in Elen’s defense, I’d be able to understand.

Lim tried to explore another possibility. Sometimes Figneria had displayed a warped kindness. It wasn’t unthinkable that she had told her draconic tool to lower the force of the flames to a level where Lim wouldn’t die right away while putting up a huge fire show to panic Elen.

──Even if I consider all of this now, I won’t reach a conclusion…

She closed her eyelids. She felt like she had seen Bargren at the corner of her eye, but the sleepiness had become too prevalent for her to make sure. Lim’s consciousness was lured into the world of dreams once again.

 

 

After exiting the tent where Lim was resting, Elen moved to another tent where she put on a new uniform while enduring the pain screaming at her from all over her body. Just as her best friend had suspected, she was a walking bundle of bandages underneath her clothes.

With the Battle of Boroszló having ended, Leitmeritz’s army collected its wounded and dead, joined up with Lebus’ army, and erected a camp on the plain extending at the northern edge of Boroszló. Legnica’s army followed their example, also setting up a camp.

There was maybe one more koku left until the sun would sink below the western horizon. The sky was still blanketed with layers of gray clouds, but the snowfall had come to a halt. Elen entrusted the management of the camp to Rurick, and headed over to the camp of Lebus’ army while only taking a single, lightly armed subordinate with her.

“Are you really going to be alright with just one guard?” It was only understandable for Rurick to have worry written all over his face.

It was only very recently that Elen and Liza had opened up to each other and sorted out their emotions. So far Leitmeritz and Lebus had shared a relationship of “strangers, or otherwise, enemies.”

Rurick had heard from Elen that she had “reconciled with Lebus,” but he didn’t know the details.

“No problem. I don’t plan to stay out for long, but please take care of things here during my absence.” Elen had answered Rurick.

She only took one attendant with her to not unnecessarily aggravate the soldiers of Lebus. Liza should have told her soldiers about the improvement of her relationship with Elen, but it was necessary to demonstrate this new reality in a clear and undeniable way.

Sure enough Lebus’ soldiers were on their toes when she visited, but they properly welcomed Elen and guided her to Liza’s tent. Elen’s subordinate was led to a tent for guests upon Liza’s instruction, resulting in Elen thanking her for being so considerate. Being able to stay in a warm place that was protected from the cold wind, was worth a lot with the weather in this region.

And thus Elen and Liza managed to reunite again inside the supreme commander’s tent. The tent’s ground was covered with bear and moose pelts, completely isolating the tent from the cold emanating from the soil. Cushions made out of plenty of cotton had been piled up in a corner, and many drinks such as wine, vodka, and Brunian apple cider lined up on a small table. Boxes filled with maps, documents and pens also occupied a part of the tent.

“Elizavetta…no, Liza, let me thank you for your timely help.”

Only Elen and Liza were present in the tent, and thus Elen adjusted her address of the rainbow-eyed Vanadis to her pet name, briefly expressing her gratitude.

Lebus’ army under Liza’s command having defeated and routed the reserve forces in the rear of Legnica’s army had a major impact. With just Elen having killed Figneria, Svirid’s will to fight might have remained unbroken.

“I didn’t do anything worth mentioning. We just teased Legnica’s soldiers a bit from behind. It doesn’t even qualify as a deed of arms.”

On another note, Lebus’ army didn’t suffer any casualties. Of course, some of its soldiers got wounded, but the injuries were limited to minor wounds thanks to their pelts.

“By the way, what about your adjutant?” Liza asked curiously.

Liza was quite aware that Lim wouldn’t leave Elen’s side unless she had to deal with something quite important.

“She was wounded quite seriously during this battle, so I had her take a rest.”

Elen kept up her calm demeanor, but she couldn’t conceal the trembling in her voice. Liza didn’t probe any further, and after offering Elen to sit down on the pelts, she poured wine into silver cups for two.

With several maps of the surrounding areas spread out, the two Vanadis informed each other how they had moved up until now while sitting on the ground. This allowed them to finally grasp their respective actions in detail.

“Gathering the militia and deliberately having Legnica’s scouts find them, eh? Smart move.”

Hearing Elen’s honest praise, Liza answered without hiding a proud smile, “I recalled the story of how Tigre repelled the Muozinel two years ago, and tried to put it to use in my own way. If you don’t plan to make them fight from the very start, they can simply keep a good distance from the enemy. And leaving aside warm clothes to fend off the cold, you don’t need to prepare any weapons for them either.”

──If she’s talking about the battle at Agnes, that’s an idea Ludmila came up with, though.

Elen thought, but decided to stay silent about it to not dampen Liza’s happiness. She also believed that Liza wasn’t completely wrong with making it one of Tigre’s achievements since he was the one who decided to use that plan, persuaded the citizens, and put it into practice.

“It seems like Legnica’s army built a camp at the southern tip of Boroszló.”

Having received Svirid’s capitulation, Elen had promised him to not treat his soldiers as remnants of a defeated army, and had even banned her army from stealing the weapons and flags of Legnica’s side.

“Figneria told me that she would entrust Legnica to me. Besides, Legnica’s previous Vanadis, Sasha Alshavin, was a very dear friend of mine. It might be impossible right away, but once the wounds on both sides have healed, I’d like to form a relationship between Leitmeritz and Legnica where both sides stand on equal ground.”

Svirid had thanked Elen, told her about all future plans of Legnica’s army, and promised to cooperate with Elen and Leitmeritz from now on. He said they wouldn’t be able to move soldiers because of the absence of a Vanadis, but preparing weapons and rations shouldn’t pose much of a problem. After thanking him, Elen tried to hand over Bargren to Svirid, but the elderly knight, who had served under three generations of Vanadis, had shaken his head.

“Please hold onto it. For the sake of proving that Legnica stands by your side as an ally. I would be delighted if you could return it, when a new Vanadis appears in our principality someday.”

For this reason, the draconic tool with its golden and scarlet blades had been put away in the tent of the supreme commander at Leitmeritz’ army camp.

Having listened until the end of Elen’s explanation, Liza nodded thoughtfully, “In that case, it sounds like a good idea for you to stay here for a while.”

“Yeah, I plan to do so for five or six days. I’ll have Legnica provide us with the necessary food and fuel during that period. Though I have no intention to take it for free.”

Elen herself was wrapped up in bandages all over her body, a state far from being perfect. If she worsened her injuries by moving around too much, it could lead to permanent ailments.

After asking about Figneria’s death, Liza revealed a complicated expression. Because she had almost been killed by Figneria in the capital, she couldn’t regard her as anything but an enemy, but she sensed that Elen had a different view on Figneria.

Noticing the change on Liza’s face, Elen inserted a pause by emptying her cup and asking for a refill of wine, before asking in a casual tone, “By the way, what about Olga?”

The youngest Vanadis Olga Tamm was in Lebus. Elen thought that she might be guarding the governmental residence in Liza’s stead, but she was completely mistaken.

Liza answered with a playful twinkle in her differently-colored eyes, “I sent her to Kazakov’s territory, accompanied by 2,000 soldiers.”

“Are you planning to shut up Kazakov?”

Guessing Liza’s intent, Elen laughed in admiration.

Elen wasn’t the only one having a bad impression of Egol Kazakov, the current patriarch. He had induced the Vanadis to fight each other by passing around some secret information, and on top of that, he had sent a letter to the capital, demanding Eugene’s deportation. Elen was sure that he had been instigated by someone, but she didn’t feel a shred of sympathy for him.

“If you or I were to go there, some people might regard it as a personal feud, but such a problem won’t crop up with Olga. Kazakov’s Polus is next to my Lebus, and since I’ve sent several people knowledgeable of the area with her, she won’t get lost either.”

Olgert Kazakov, Egol’s deceased father, hated Liza and had started a private war against her in the past. Because of this, Egol resented Elen and Liza. However, that grudge would be pointless with Olga as his opponent.

“I didn’t officially announce Olga’s presence in Lebus. But then again, since her name and face aren’t known around that area, it wasn’t that much of a trouble to keep it hidden either.”

“Kazakov is going to be shocked, I’m sure. You think he’ll pull back obediently?”

“That depends on how Olga handles matters. I gave her a little advice, though.”

Liza shrugged at Elen’s questions, skillfully enough to not spill any of the wine in her inclined cup.

“I plan to vacate this place tomorrow at noon, and go after Olga. What are you going to do after resting here for several days, Elen?”

“I wanted to hear your opinion about that part.” Elen grimaced as if she had something bitter in her mouth. “What kind of effect is Figneria’s death going to have?”

It was a rather vague question, but Liza understood what Elen was worrying about.

“If you limit the answer to us, it’s going to have two effects.” She raised one finger, and continued, “First, it’s going to give us a big advantage against Valentina who’s scheming something. If it becomes known that the confrontation between us Vanadis has shifted to a 5 vs. 1, the number of people supporting her might decrease, and we’ll just need to watch out for Valentina’s movements.”

Elen showed her approval by silently nodding.

“Second, it might trigger chaos in Legnica.”

They were defeated in battle and lost their Vanadis. Despite having lost their previous Vanadis just last year. Given that the draconic tool would choose the next Vanadis, there was no risk of succession disputes as they happened among nobility. But, it was pretty easy to imagine that there would be factional strife during the time without a new Vanadis. Legnica’s people would likely go on with their lives while anxious about that part. Also, it was possible that people viewing this situation as a golden opportunity might pop up among the lords with a territory situated around Legnica. Even more so with the capital being caught in a maelstrom of chaos right now.

“Just not having to worry about an intervention by Asvarre or Brune is already a big boon, but you and I need to protect Legnica.”

If Asvarre or Brune tried to invade Legnica at this time, they’d have to cross the rough sea with its freezing winds. Neither of those two countries would likely brave such dangers.

“I suppose it’s time to write some letters to the influential nobles around Legnica, telling them that they’d need to deal with two Vanadis if they started to unnecessarily meddle with Legnica.”

Elen and Liza were immediately able to think of several possible candidates. If they possessed territory next to Legnica’s south, they’d also be close to Leitmeritz, and if they had territory next to Legnica’s north, Lebus wouldn’t be far either. Thus the two decided to send letters with a joint signature to those nobles.

The wine bottle’s content had decreased by around half without either realizing. Liza poured them some apple cider.

“Come to think of it, is there anything you learned about Duke Ganelon’s movements?”

Elen shook her head, “No, we left the capital on the same day as you and Olga. And then, after getting back to Leitmeritz, there was no time to look into it.”

After all, they had to catch up with Figneria. Because they invested all their time into gathering the soldiers and marching, neither Elen nor Lim had any leeway to take care of other matters.

“I didn’t find any clues on my side either. Ominous incidents of people vanishing and monsters appearing are taking place all over Lebus, and some towns and villages also suffered damages, but… If we at least knew Ganelon’s whereabouts, I could make some moves from my side.”

Elen picked up the cider bottle and offered a refill to Liza who was tightly clenching her cup with frustration coloring her face.

“I’ll come along with you at such a time. So, calm down for now.”

After emptying her cup and getting Elen to refill it, Liza loosened her face into a smile, and exhaled lightly.

“Friends are a wonderful thing to have.”

Becoming embarrassed, Elen ransacked her silver hair, and changed the topic.

“What are you going to do after joining up with Olga?”

“Of course I’ll take my soldiers and head for the capital.” Liza’s reply was crisp and clear-cut.

She intended to restrain Valentina’s movements, keep a stern check on the landed nobility which had been raising its soldiers all over the country, and, depending on the circumstances, suppress them with brute force.

“What if Valentina had occupied the capital by then? It’s a possibility, right?”

Assuming Valentina had kneaded her plans for a long time, it was quite thinkable that Osterode’s army would have started moving at the same time as she escaped the capital.

“At that time, Olga and I won’t have much of a choice but to join up with Sofy and Ludmilla, and work out a breakthrough solution together with them.”

“Got it. Once our side can move again, I’ll head for the capital.”

When Elen said so, Liza muttered with an uneasy expression, “I wonder whether Tigre is safe and sound.”

“…If it’s him, he’ll somehow muddle his way through if something troublesome occurs. It’d be the usual with that guy.” Elen replied with a laugh, half to give Liza a peace of mind and half to persuade herself.

Neither of them knew that Tigre was heading for Ganelon’s location around that time. There was no way they could.

“In Tigre’s case, it wouldn’t be odd for him to be worried about us instead. We must quickly meet up with him to ease his mind.”

“True, seeing me will give him the necessary peace of mind.” Liza allowed a faint will to put up a fight to show through.

Elen was somewhat irked by that, but she limited her reply to a shrug and a “Sure.” Exactly because she knew that Liza’s feelings were sincere, she believed that she was in no position to tell her off.

After shaking Liza’s hand, Elen left the tent.

 

◆◇◆

 

However, just before noon of the next day, Liza’s plans were thrown into disarray. The reason was a single girl who galloped into the camp of Lebus’ army on a horse. The girl’s petite body was clad in a loose, white attire. On top she wore a reddish tunic with a fox pelt laying across her shoulders. A red cap adorned with beads decorated her head, and a necklace of multi-colored round beads reached all the way down to her chest. Both, clothes and cap, had unique designs stitched into them. A smallish ax with a pink blade hung at the belt tightening her waist. All in all it was an attire immediately betraying that she was no local. People well-acquainted with Zhcted’s east would likely be reminded of the equestrian tribes wandering the plains over there.

Her pink hair, wet with sweat, shone as it received the weak winter sun. Her eyes were reminiscent of black pearls.

Seeing the girl enter the supreme commander’s tent escorted by soldiers of Lebus, Liza blinked her eyes in surprise, and asked with a somewhat loud voice, “How did you know you’d find us here?”

The girl ─ Olga Tamm ─ tilted her head, obviously finding this question odd. With an age of 15, Olga was the youngest among the current Vanadis. She held the alias 『Moon Princess of the Roaring Demon』. The ax on her hips was her draconic tool Muma, also referred to as Rago. 1

Liza invited Olga to sit down on the pelts, and prepared apple cider with honey.

“I’d prefer it if you had kumis or goat milkkoz’ye malako.”

“Those are terms I hear for the first time.” Liza inclined her head at the sudden, shameless request.

Olga grabbed the silver cup, drained down the apple cider, and thanked Liza afterwards. While preparing a second filling, Liza called a soldier and gave him two orders: To make the soldiers wait for further orders until noon, and to choose a messenger and send them to Leitmeritz’s army.

The small Vanadis exhaled in satisfaction after emptying the second cup in a flash.

“I’d like to have the next one without honey,” she requested, and then explained the situation that led to her arrival here.

Ten days ago, Liza took 3,000 soldiers, and headed south towards Legnica from her governmental residence. At the same time, Olga went towards Kazakov’s Polus, accompanied by 2,000 soldiers.

Starting with the conclusion: Olga invaded Polus, defeated Egol Kazakov, and then, after making him promise that he’d go to the capital, traveled to this place while passing through Lebus.

“How…?”

It was only understandable for Liza to ask this with a frown on her face. No matter how she considered it, such a quick arrival here seemed impossible. After all, Olga had no way of knowing that the battle would take place in Boroszló, just like Liza initially didn’t know either. Taking this into account, Olga would usually require five or six days to find out and get here.

“I used a sleigh pulled by dogs.” Olga responded casually.

This young Vanadis had split the 2,000 soldiers entrusted to her into two units of 1,000 soldiers each. Then she had one unit gather dogs and sleighs while having the other unit go ahead. Liza had taught her how to gather and steer dog sleighs before, but the sleighs and dogs assembled by Olga were more than enough to transport 2,000 infantrymen. By having half of the dogs pull empty sleighs in turns so as to keep their exhaustion levels low, Olga traveled to Polus at an astounding speed.

“It’s the method my tribe uses when hunting for meat in distant lands. They gather three or four horses per person, and ride while changing the horses every koku. I applied the same principle here.”

“I wonder if I should have also taught you to act a bit more prudently…” Liza grumbled with each of her odd eyes dyed with shock and irritation.

The dogs and sleighs were property of Lebus and not Brest, Olga’s principality. It was Liza who would take the brunt of resentments and criticisms if Olga exploited the soldiers and civilians too much. Liza was aware that she had to count this as a necessary expense, but she couldn’t help but complain about it.

“No one likes women who waste money.”

“Tigre would have permitted it with a laugh.” Olga refuted completely unperturbed.

It woke the wish in Liza to sigh deeply, but since Olga hadn’t finished with her story yet, Liza limited it to urging her to continue.

Olga and her 1,000 infantrymen had stepped into Polus, but because food and fuel were an issue, they didn’t push their way through Polus’ territory just like that. In Lebus they could resupply as much as they wanted as they were on an official mission by the ruler of the principality, but if they did the same in Polus, it’d be looting. Hence they had no choice but to buy what they needed for hard cash. But, procuring the necessary amount proved to be difficult, and it wasn’t as though the money provided by Liza allowed for that much leeway either.

Accordingly, Olga moved along the territorial border between Lebus and Polus while scattering a certain rumor in the towns and villages on Polus’ side whenever they spotted one.

“The head of the Kazakov family is groundlessly committing slander and defamation against the next king Earl Pardu. It’d be smart to flee to Lebus if you want to avoid getting dragged into the coming battle as a punitive force is soon going to advance on Polus from Silesia.”

After Prince Ruslan had recovered from illness, Eugene lost his standing as next king. Olga was well aware of that, and deliberately said it in a way that even those, who didn’t know much about what was happening in the capital, would be able to understand.

This idea wasn’t anything Olga had come up with by herself. Liza had suggested this method when she had assigned the 2,000 soldiers to Olga at Lebus’ governmental residence.

“Kazakov had passed on secret information that Earl Pardu was targeting the crown. He also claimed that Earl Pardu had won over Sofy, Elen and me. Among all four, the territories of Elen, Sofy and Earl Pardu are far away from Polus. Even if they planned to put down Kazakov, it’d require time to put it into action. But, the same can’t be said about me.”

Considering that point, one could guess what actions Kazakov would take against Liza. He would dispatch many patrols and scouts along the border to Lebus in order to precisely grasp Lebus’ army’s every move. In the meantime, Kazakov himself would avoid a direct confrontation with Lebus’ army while waiting for Figneria to threaten Lebus.

“Egol Kazakov doesn’t have the same caliber as the previous family head, Olgert, but he’s still known to excel in military prowess. Even so, he wouldn’t try to take us on from the front. Accordingly, we’re going to lure out Kazakov by spreading a rumor inconvenient to him.”

If Kazakov kept an eye on Lebus’ movements, it was obvious that such a rumor would be immediately brought to his attention. On top of that, Olga spread a few other rumors as well.

“It looks like Kazakov intends to levy a special tax for the sake of fighting the punitive force. Apparently he plans to procure all the excess food and fuel.”

“Because Kazakov knows that he won’t be able to win against a Vanadis, he apparently plans to behead a man with a face closely resembling his own and offer it to the Vanadis. There’s also word going around that he’s going to give away his assets and a part of his territory.”

“The lack of Egol’s abilities seems to be the reason why the supporters of the previous family head turned their backs on the Kazakov family. At this rate, Polus is in danger.”

All of these groundless rumors were so scary because they carried the gist that Polus’ residents might get dragged into Egol’s egoistic actions.

And just as Liza had predicted, Egol was meticulously gathering all information related to the area around Polus’s border with Lebus. He was forced into repelling Lebus’ army, which had trespassed into his territory, as fast as possible. On top of that, he had to give his people in the borderlands peace of mind and deflect those rumors as lies by personally showing himself at the towns and villages. After all, his residents would suspect that there might be some truth to those rumors if he didn’t alleviate their worries in person, even if he were to chase away Lebus’ army.

Thus, Egol appeared at Novitol, a region located at the western edge of Polus, at the head of 2,000 infantrymen in the morning of the third day after Olga had arrived in Polus. One of the big reasons for him coming out in person was his knowledge about Elizavetta Fomina having headed south with her soldiers. As such, he only expected an attack by 1,000 soldiers of Lebus’ army.

 

◆◇◆

 

Novitol was surrounded by several mountains. Many streams flowed down those mountains, making their way into the lowland. However, around this season, those streams were frozen solid by the icy winds blowing across the slopes, and the same could be said for the plains.

The 1,000 Lebus soldiers led by Olga didn’t try to meet the enemy on the plains, but rather took up formation at the bottom of a mountain called Glinna so as to have the mountain itself in the back.

Hearing the report from the soldiers he had sent out to scout, Egol assembled all his chief officers and asked, “What do you think is their plan?”

Egol was 17 years old. He had inherited short dark brown hair and a bulky physique from his late father. Whenever he held a sword, he displayed such skill that people believed that he might not find a match in his own generation. His father had favored using a mace because of his inferiority complex towards Ilda Kurtis, but the son was completely free from such emotion-driven limitations.

Egol wore a full armor and helmet, turning him into an imposing, dignified warrior statue when he held his sword. Besides protecting him, that outfit also had the role to give his men confidence.

“Won’t they simply retreat along the mountain road if we launch an attack on them?” One of the officers asked.

Another officer added, “If they enter the mountain while retreating, they’ll be able to attack us from high ground. In addition, we won’t have the chance to capitalize on our numerical advantage.”

“Then, how about we do it like this?” Egol informed the officers of his plan by scratching the troop movements on the ground with the scabbard. “First we’re going to start by attacking them from the front. If they retreat along the mountain path, we’ll station soldiers at all key points like here and here, and isolate them up there so that they can’t get off the mountain. I’m sure they’ll surrender as soon as they run out of water and food.”

“I think it is a good plan, milord. Given that this mountain has many steep slopes, which are difficult to scale even for animals, or precipitous cliffs, except for the river and the three mountain roads, I believe it should work out well as long as we take control of those four points.” An officer, who was well-acquainted with the terrain around here, agreed with a broad smile.

Thus the strategy was set.

Polus’ army advanced through Novitol, and then confronted Lebus’ army at the foot of Mt. Glinna. The sky was colored by a gray color which was unusual for this time of the year. The sun had passed its zenith, but its light was white and weak like a worn silver coin. As there was no wind going, the Black Dragon Flag and Lebus’ flag – a golden belt on violet ground – were listlessly hanging down.

The armaments of Lebus’ soldiers combined wooled underwear and leather undergarments with thick pelts. Close to half of the 1,000 soldiers held swords and shields, the rest held either bows, shields with one-handed axes, or spears. They had lined up in a square formation in preparation to meet the enemy.

Polus’ soldiers wore full armor covered with a layer of pelts. The weapon distribution wasn’t all that different from Lebus’ soldiers. The two thousand soldiers were deployed in a long yet broad rectangle formation. It was clear that their aim was to squash their enemy with a wall of metal and weapons.

Standing at the head of his army, Egol called out to Lebus’ army, “You who serve the Vanadis of cursed eyes! Why have you trespassed our territory as you please!?”

The name Vanadis of cursed eyes was the worst insult possible for Liza. Her rainbow eyes were called harbinger of calamity and lucky omens depending on the region. Lebus’ soldiers grew restive and hurled loud jeers and insults at Egol in response.

“I deem you scum to be brigands!” Egol yelled, and signaled his soldiers with a hand.

Polus’ soldiers thrust their swords and spears into the air, roaring so loudly that they didn’t lose out to the enemy army. Because there were twice as many of them, their very loud voices also had much more of an impact. Their helmets and armors duly reflected the sunlight.

As the horns blared across the battlefield, the flags were brandished, and both armies began to advance. Egol fell back to the rear, taking command of the soldiers from there. With 3,000 people across both armies afoot, the ground trembled as both sides approached each other.

The slashes and stabs of Lebus’ soldiers, which were teeming with anger, assailed Polus’ soldiers. Skin was torn off, blood got scattered, and Polus’ soldiers at the front line fell in succession. Of course, Polus’ army didn’t lose out in enthusiasm either. They cut and stabbed Lebus’ soldiers, their blades full of scorn and bloodlust. Lebus’ soldiers crumbled to the ground with their shoulders cleaved open and holes in their bellies. Amongst the battlefield noise as glaring weapons clashed with each other, only the number of corpses strewn on the ground kept increasing with each passing moment. Above the heads of the infantrymen, arrows flew back and forth between the archers of both camps, turning into a deadly rain the instant they poured down.

Before long, Lebus’ army started to retreat, apparently overwhelmed by the fervor of Polus’ soldiers with their superior numbers. While frantically blocking arrows, swords, and spears by holding up their shields, Lebus’ army escaped onto the mountain road with their ranks falling apart. Because they didn’t wear heavy metal armor, they were fast on their feet.

“As expected, huh? Damn cowards.” Egol sneered.

He forbade his soldiers to pursue the enemy, and reorganized the ranks. Lebus’ soldiers had altogether vanished on the mountain road with just a few of them watching from a distance to see how Polus’ army would move.

Egol ordered his soldiers to split in four units and send them out to surround Mt. Glinna. He also prepared many messengers, making sure that the units could always keep in touch by having the messengers constantly tour from one unit to the next. This meant that allies would soon show up, even if the enemy were to attack at one spot.

Nothing happened on the evening of that day. Polus’ soldiers erected huge bonfires for the sake of easily spotting the enemy soldiers and staving off the freezing coldness.

Receiving reports that many bonfires were flickering halfway up the mountain, Egol said with a scornful laugh, “Now we only have to patiently wait for two or three days.”

 

◆◇◆

 

The attack took place early in the morning with dawn only having broken. Lebus’ army targeted the unit protecting the mountain stream. Thanks to the freezing winds, the stream was frozen over its entire width of almost ten alsin. Polus’s army had prepared itself to defend from attacks by erecting several wooden fences in the vicinity of the river.

However, what attacked Polus’ camp first weren’t armed soldiers, but a sleigh. Loaded with many stones of various sizes which Lebus’ soldiers had picked up in the mountains, the sleigh slid down the frozen stream at a terrifying speed. The sleigh was smashed to pieces after it ran into a fence, but at the same time the fence also suffered heavy damage and heeled over. And using that opening, one sleigh after the other was sent towards the camp.

The soldiers of Polus, who were on watch duty close to the fences, stood stock still, completely dumbstruck, as they watched this happen. The sleighs were blown away as they successively crashed into the fences, causing such a thundering noise that one would fear going deaf while at the same time unloading their cargo on the soldiers in a shower of rocks.

The soldiers looked at each other while protecting their heads with their shields and arms, implicitly asking their comrades how they were supposed to make this stop. If a human tried to stop the sleighs, they’d be turned into a blood pulp in the best case, and sent flying after having all their bones broken in the worst case.

As they kept watching in confusion, not doing anything, one of the fences was completely destroyed at last. Hearing the tremendously loud whangs, the soldiers, who had been still asleep in their tents, rushed over, but they didn’t have an idea what to do about this situation either.

In the meantime another two fences were destroyed. The soldiers scattered to get away while screaming in fear.

At that moment, Lebus’ soldiers left their hiding places and ran down the mountain. The one leading the charge was a small girl who didn’t seem to belong on a battlefield. In her hand she was holding an ax.

The soldiers of Polus widened their eyes in the next moment as they witnessed how the ax grew to a size exceeding its holder no sooner than it was clad by a faint glow. The handle became twice as long, and the half-moon-like blades became more than twice as big.

The girl was Olga, and the ax was Mad RoarRago Muma.

Accompanied by the dull breaking and snapping of flesh and bones, sprays of blood whipped across the frozen ground. Olga casually brandished her huge ax, literally blowing away the head of a nearby enemy soldier. Half of what used to be a head was still stuffed in the squashed helmet as it tumbled on the ground.

It was a very one-sided battle. Each time Olga advanced, brandishing Mad Roar left and right, a soldier of Polus was turned into a lump of meat. A mountain of corpses piled up in no time, warm lifeblood thawing the frozen soil and forming pools of bloody mud.

Of course Lebus’ soldiers also swung their swords and spears as they followed her lead, but the Moon Princess of the Mad Roar exhibited such a flashy, gruesome fighting style to friend and foe that their hard struggling fell flat in comparison.

The soldiers of Polus, who hadn’t realized that they were facing a Vanadis, were assailed by fear pregnant with superstitious beliefs, and fell into a state of panic. Watching a girl, who should be far younger than themselves, eradicating their comrades each time she wielded an ax not fitting her delicate figure, didn’t allow them to regard this as anything but a nightmare.

Egol’s main force showed up around the time when the unit protecting the river had been annihilated and scattered. They became dumbfounded at first, followed by a feeling of dread. Not one of their comrades, who were supposed to protect this point, was left alive with the ground being covered by a carpet of blood and corpses.

While they were unable to catch up with the situation spreading out in front of them, the Vanadis with pink hair swooped down on them, brandishing her ax. Lebus’ soldiers expanded the path cut open by Olga, crushing Egol’s main force all too quickly.

Without even being granted the time allowing other allies to rush over when faced with Olga’s prowess, the girl very soon found herself standing in front of Egol with her ax leaning against her shoulder.

From Egol’s point of view as a tall, broad man, Olga could count as a dwarf. And yet, the young patriarch of the Kazakov family could only see this girl, a cluster of smeared blood and sweat, as some kind of mysterious monstrosity.

These days Polus was also overflowing with rumors of monsters and fairies prowling the lands. Egol couldn’t help but wonder whether she wasn’t one of those.

Yelling to encourage himself, Egol assaulted her with his sword. But, all Olga did was to carefreely raise Muma over her head. This alone was enough to break his sword’s blade as soon as a metallic clank reverberated. And as if that hadn’t been enough, his arm was broken as well.

Olga thrust her ax at Egol after he lost his balance and fell on his backside. An endless stream of sweat ran down Egol’s face.

The girl coldly asked him, “Surrender or death?”, under the sky that had already begun to grow light.

“Surrender! I’ll surrender!” Egol screamed pleadingly, thus spelling the all too sudden end of this battle.

 

◆◇◆

 

“──After this, I had them prepare a large number of horses and returned to Lebus by myself. I entrusted your soldiers to the commanding officer.” Olga finished her recount while getting another refill of apple cider.

As soon as she arrived in Lebus, Olga had the second half of the 2,000 soldiers, whom she had ordered to prepare dogs and sleighs, chase after the army led by Liza. After listening to their reports, she galloped all the way to Boroszló while switching horses on the way.

“Switching horses… You make it sound so easy.”

Olga flashed a proud smile, befitting a girl of her age, at Liza who had sighed with a dumbstruck expression.

“The equestrian tribes train this from an early age while leading a life in the prairie. Horses are our life after all.”

“By the way,” Olga prefaced her question while drinking her cider, “what about the battle with Legnica’s Vanadis?”

“It concluded yesterday. Elen defeated her.”

“I see,” Olga nodded, lowering her eyes onto the cup in her hand.

She drained down the rest in one breath, and then let her body flop sideways onto the carpet.

“I’ll sleep for a while.”

She closed her eyes, and started to peacefully snore after a period of less than two breaths.

Liza looked down on the young girl, flabbergasted by her extremely free and uncontrolled conduct, but after reconsidering, her lips revealed a gentle smile.

“She must have come here in a hurry.”

All in an attempt to help Elen and Liza. And now that she had arrived, she had been so sleepy after using up all her strength that she even forgot to take off her cap.

At that moment, Elen’s voice could be heard outside the tent. She had apparently just arrived in Lebus’ camp. Once she was told to enter by Liza, Elen turned over a part of the entrance flap, peeking into the tent. She looked at Liza, and then shifted her eyes towards Olga who was sleeping on the carpet.

“When did she get here?”

“Just a little while ago.”

Liza prepared a silver cup for Elen, and invited her to sit down on the carpet just like yesterday. Immediately following, she explained everything Olga had told her.

“Oh wow…!” Elen peered down at Olga, clearly uncertain whether to show astonishment or admiration on her face. “What an incredible girl. I don’t have the confidence that I could pull off the same.”

“Me neither. By the way──” Liza’s expression turned serious.

Egol having surrendered should have thwarted yet another of Valentina’s plots. Thus she wondered whether they should start to slowly head to the capital tomorrow. After all, they could write the letters to the noble lords while en march.

“You’re right. Twenty days have passed since we left the capital…I’m curious about the situation over there.” Elen nodded.

Valentina wasn’t the only problem either. She wondered what happened to Julian Kurtis after raising an army, and whether Sofy and Mila were able to repel the Muozinel.

“With us coming along, the march will proceed slowly, but is that alright with you?”

“We will match your pace. It’s still much better than moving in small groups, just to be crushed individually.”

“Gotcha. Let’s go together then.”

After they finished panning out the details afterwards, Elen bid farewell from Liza and left the tent. When she looked up, she found that the sun had passed the zenith a good while ago. She guessed that it should be around early afternoon right now.

Just when the wind let her silver hair fly, Silver Flash sent a warning to Elen by caressing her with a wind of its own. At once she extended a hand to her sword, feeling something akin to shivers. While entering combat mode, she turned her eyes to the sky after noticing how her surroundings had become dark all of a sudden, just to have her breath taken away.

The sky she was looking at was dyed in a sickening violet. Despite having been blue just moments ago.

──What is this? What’s going on?

Elen kept looking up while doing her best to suppress her shock, and then scanned her vicinity, suspecting that a demon might be approaching, granted this all was a deed by them.

A moment later Elen was assailed by yet another shock. The sky had returned to normal. Following that, Arifar also stopped warning her. Even the eerie feeling of tension that had crept across her whole body had vanished as if nothing had ever happened in the first place.

“What’s going on?”

She wondered whether she might have experienced some kind of hallucination by herself, but hearing the commotion among Lebus’ soldiers, she understood that they had also seen the violet sky.

When she placed a hand on her forehead, it was drenched in sweat. At that moment, Liza came out of her tent. As soon as she spotted Elen, she quickly walked over.

“Did something happen just now?” Her hand was resting on the grip of Valitsaif.

Guessing that Liza and her draconic tool must have felt some kind of presence just now, Elen briefly explained what she had seen moments ago.

“A violet sky…”

“Very likely it’s an abnormal event related to Tir Na Fal. Though it happened on a fairly grand scale.”

“Olga’s draconic tool also reacted to it, so there should be no doubt about it. I wonder if the sky is going to always be like this if Tir Na Fal descends.” Liza looked up to the sky in annoyance

The two had spoken with each other in whispers as they couldn’t afford to let the soldiers hear what they were talking about as it’d just needlessly stir their anxiety.

“Liza, let’s choose two or three people whom we can entrust with the command of the armies.” Elen snarled with a grim look.

Her words were based on the anticipation that they might have to fight Ganelon before heading to the capital. The possibility wasn’t zero, and if it came to pass, it’d be better for them to not do so while leading their soldiers into such a battle. If fear and confusion spread within such a big group of people, even Elen and Liza would be unable to control their soldiers.

──It’d be wonderful if nothing happened to Tigre…

Elen prayed for the safety of her lover in her mind.

On the next day, close to hundred people reporting to feel sick appeared within Lebus’ army. Soldiers with knowledge about medical treatment examined all of them, but as they couldn’t identify the cause, Liza decided to delay their departure by half a day to keep an eye on their condition. However, even after half a day had passed, their health remained as bad as before. Reluctantly Liza gave up on marching that day.

The same occurred in Leitmeritz’s camp. More than hundred soldiers declared that they wouldn’t be able to move as they felt sick, but when some of the soldiers even started to vomit, Elen put them under quarantine in their tents. It took those soldiers three days to be able to walk on their own again, but none of them knew why they had broken down all of a sudden.

 

 


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Translation Notes:

  1. The term Rago consists of the kanji 羅轟 which translate to “lightweight fabric” and “roaring.” Of course this makes no sense since we’re talking about an ax here and not a screaming piece of cloth. The author likely used these characters as ateji, or in short, for their phonetic reading. Phonetic readings are often connected to terms that Japan imported from the continent and adopted into its own language. Shura (修羅) is a good example for it, which also uses the ra from 羅 above and originates from Asshura, a Buddhistic sanskrit term. If you’d follow that train of thought, you could probably also localize this alias as “Wild/Mad Roar.” For a full localization, I could have left this term away since it only adds another name to an already defined weapon, but oh well.