The dragonoids’ army was advancing through the dragonoid continent. The army had loaded materials and food along a dozen soldiers on something similar to troop transport wagons referred to as “chariots” by the dragonoids. Those chariots were pulled by sub-dragons and flanked by cavalry, allowing the dragonoids’ military forces to move fairly fast. Their numbers amounted to several hundreds.
Since the ration between support cavalry and soldiers riding the chariots was about 1 to 2, the entire military force totaled to approximately 10,000. Such an army of 10,000 soldiers was the biggest military force the dragonoids could muster which the Witenagemot had barely managed to scrape together after desperate efforts.
There were still a lot more soldiers in the dragonoid country, but as they were scattered over different military bases after the chain of defeats, they couldn’t assemble all of them. Those were the words of the Witenagemot.
Renya believed that statement to be somewhat of a lie. They were using the excuse that they couldn’t send out all of their military forces since it was necessary to leave some behind in order to defend the cities and bases spread all over the continent that hadn’t yet been taken over by the enemy army.
However, it’s not like there were that many bases located across the dragonoids’ continent. Moreover, the place they would attack soon, in other words the capital, was the dragonoids’ biggest military base to begin with, and also the place where the main force of the demon king’s army, which had invaded the dragonoids’ continent, had been stationed.
If that place wasn’t recaptured, it would be impossible to liberate the continent. At the same time, if they could recapture the capital, it would likely turn into an important position that could cause the downfall of the demon king’s military units that were active in other places.
The excuse that they couldn’t concentrate their military forces despite launching an attack on such a critical location was unacceptable.
One of the reason why the Witenagemot was stingy on their military forces while being well aware of the importance of this attack was their reliance on Renya’s extraordinary combat abilities.
It was even possible that they thought Renya would go recover the capital all by himself, if things went west. He might be overthinking things, but from the start Renya felt something like that from the Witenagemot’s words regardless of how they explained the current circumstances or made up excuses.
According to them, the number of enemies stationed in the dragonoids’ capital seemed to be around a couple tens of thousands. Moreover, it was a considerably powerful battle formation centered around intermediate-level monsters such as orcs and ogres.
If one considered things logically, recapturing the capital was a dream within a dream. No matter how much the formation might rely on Renya and the four heroes, it was a situation that was very easy to grasp.
Renya ended up wondering whether he should indiscriminately lock everything and anything up in a world of ice through the activation of several downbursts from outside the attack range of both sides by depending on his incredible amount of mana if things were to become far too weird, but it’s not like he could declare his intentions to do such a thing. Also, what made him give up on that idea was the fact that the ones who would be most troubled by the annihilation of the capital would be the residents who had been driven out of the city.
Due to the considerable physical strength and stamina of sub-dragons, they could run for longer periods of time without breaks and move at higher speeds than carriages. Their movement range without breaks was slightly more than twice that of a carriage. If they were set on it, they could run as fast as a fast horse, but if they did something like that, the accompanying cavalry would have to throw in the towel.
Having said that, despite their convenience, there were not enough sub-dragons or chariots to transport the whole army at the same time. Not to mention that it would likely turn out badly and put them at a disadvantage if an army consisting only of infantry participated in the battle.
As result it had been arranged that the sub-dragons and the cavalry would advance at roughly the same speed. It would result in taking longer to arrive to their destination, but the fact that their traveling a distance that would take a carriage ten days in six days could be called super fast as a marching speed in this world, according to Rona’s explanation.
“I would really like to know the method with which the demon king’s army invaded so quickly.” (Rona)
Based on Rona’s knowledge, the demon king army’s marching speed on the dragonoids’ continent was abnormal. Rona said it was as if the entire army had been transferred, but even after scanning through the dragon’s sorcery knowledge that Renya had received from Emedra, he couldn’t find any method that would allow such a thing.
For the sake of caution Renya chose a good time with no one around and tried asking Emil whether the demons possess such a technique, but her reply was a simple no.
“Well, though I guess you’re not so stupid that you’d leak the demons’ internal affairs…” (Renya)
Renya assumed that Emil might have her position as a demon to take into consideration, but Emil shook her head while laughing in a silly manner, and denied those words.
“No, not at all. To put things bluntly, I have spilled all the beans to you. If there was such a device allowing to create a path between two fixed points of departure and destination, quite the large-scaled transfers would be possible, okay? Just like that Forest Labyrinth. If you properly travel through the labyrinth, take up positions at the entrance and exit, and form a path through the dungeon itself, it’s actually feasible.” (Emil)
“The transfer gates use the same theory,” Emil says. “However, there exists exclusive, ceremonial sorcery that doesn’t require devices to traverse a path. It’s techniques that are hidden by the other races so that the demons wouldn’t learn of them.”
“I guess it would be correct to destroy such methods in advance.” (Renya)
“Certainly. His Majesty Demon King Stolas Vasalgo, was it? I think he’s in quite the hurry. I believe the first attack of His Majesty’s military forces against the dragonoid continent was a surprise attack by transferring through the Forest Labyrinth, but that can’t explain the marching speed of the occupation army afterwards. Affixing a point of departure and arrival is impossible, and there’s no device allowing to form a path between these two points to begin with.” (Emil)
Renya had heard the demon king’s name from Frau and he circulated it to all the powers.
There was no point in hiding it anyway. Renya partly expected some kind of bickering to be thrown his way due to spreading the information, but so far there hasn’t been any such reaction.
He tried asking Emil as well, but her response was completely outside Renya’s prediction.
“If it’s Stolas Vasalgo, it’s not that I don’t know him. He’s the son of an influential demon noble. If I’m not mistaken, he’s a man.” (Emil)
In Renya’s eyes the demon king’s gender didn’t really matter either way, but for some reason Emil informs Renya while oddly stressing the part about him being a man.
Renya felt slightly disappointed that he was considered to be a human that would take the other party into consideration only if she were a woman, but as the current situation didn’t allow him to worry about something like that, he switched over his thinking.
“You knowing his name means that he’s quite powerful, doesn’t it Emil?” (Renya)
“Nah, not really. As far as I know, Stolas is far from being a powerful demon. If I had to choose either, I’d label him as a dropout. If he had fought against me, I would have been able to dissect him from the top of his head to the tip of his big toe within five minutes.” (Emil)
As if recalling old memories, Emil continued while gazing into the sky,
“He’s a person who wouldn’t have ever popped up as possible candidate in my mind. All I know is that his family is influential and that his reputation pictures him as being a dunce who doesn’t measure up to his lineage at all.” (Emil)
“Even someone like that can become the demon king?” (Renya)
“No, there’s no way for that to be possible, is there?” (Emil)
Emil was astonished by Renya’s surprise.
Due to Renya mumbling complaints that it was unfair for her to be surprised here since he didn’t know the internal affairs of the demons, Emil said as if preaching to him,
“It’s obviously the same with the heroes, but even the demon king will be chosen from among the best among the demons.” (Emil)
“Sorry, but I can’t agree with that, no matter how you look at it. I will agree with you in regards to our Kurz, the elven Grün and the dragonoids’ Albert, but…the beastmen have that.” (Renya)
“No….well, yeah, umm…isn’t he superior as a beastman? Even if that’s not the case for argument’s sake, it’s a failure rate of 25% if you regard the total number.” (Emil)
This conversation was heard in full account by Lepard himself as he was passing by due to his characteristic, excellent sense of hearing as a beastman. Later on Lepard was seen being consoled by Kaede, but Renya and Emil believed that their words hadn’t been heard by the person in question, and also had no way of knowing about it since the victim didn’t mention a single word about it.
“Anyway, as far as I know, Stolas Vasalgo is so incompetent that he wouldn’t have become a candidate, but the fact that he was named the demon king is a big problem. I mean, there’s no way for the other candidates to accept it silently, is there? Therefore, Renya, it’s better for you to be careful. I don’t know how he became the demon king, but it’s clear that he possesses a way to name himself demon king while silencing the influential demons.” (Emil)
Emil’s expression was dyed with honest anxiety.
She was currently riding diagonally behind Renya, but he regarded her expression as something extremely interesting. Pondering about the reason for that, Renya was driven by shameful feelings.
“How unexpected. There are things you can’t do either, Renya.”
The one saying so was Shion who was grasping the reins of the horse.
As for handling a carriage, Renya had become able to somehow make it move after learning the basics from Shion before, but he was completely useless in horseback riding.
If it was just sitting on the horse, even Renya could handle as much with his movements that could be called nimble, but any further than that was beyond him. When he held the reins, the horse didn’t even try to move, standing stock still.
Due to the horse not moving at all remaining still like a sculpture even when Renya pulled or lashed the reins, he gave up easily and tried to ride Emedra or Rubydra, but Emedra put a stop to this.
According to the investigation by the dragons, there were no evil dragons with the main force of the demon king’s army. Seeing as there were no evil dragons, the dragons stated that they couldn’t get involved in the battle.
Rubydra was fully willing to allow Renya to ride her, but gave up reluctantly after being persuaded by Emedra, the two dragons returned to the Dragon Den, saying that they would stay back this time.
Apparently there had been an entreaty towards Emedra by the Witenagemot asking whether she couldn’t somehow convince the dragons to participate in the battle, but Emedra rejected the request firmly.
It might be something like a line they cannot cross, but right now is not the time to say such things either, Renya thought, but since it certainly served no purpose to take someone, who states that they definitely wouldn’t go, to the battlefield, he left them alone.
“The combat forces, which they prepared to fight the enemy forces, are lacking anyway, therefore it probably won’t change much even if we leave the dragons out of the equation at this point,” Renya said, but there wasn’t a single person supporting that way of thinking.
Putting that aside, Shion proposed to Renya, who started to think that he might as well run alongside the army since he couldn’t do anything else, that he could ride on the back of her horse.
Croire made a face that said “Damn it!” when Shion suggested this to the somewhat bothered-looking Renya, but although he felt that he wouldn’t fall behind even while running, Renya decided to accept Shion’s proposal while thinking that it might not be bad to ride behind Shion if it meant not running in-between horses and sub-dragons who would most certainly be very noisy with their heavy footsteps.
“Renya, make sure you tightly hold on to my waist so that you don’t fall off.” (Shion)
“Even without me holding your waist, I won’t really fall off, though…?” (Renya)
In Renya’s eyes it was just about him being unable to make a horse move. The riding itself wasn’t a problem in any way.
Keeping his balance atop a horse was a trivial matter even without any support, but Shion’s intentions were slightly different from what Renya was thinking.
“If you like, you can also place your arms a little bit higher, you know?” (Shion)
“What are you expecting me to do here?” (Renya)
“If you insist, I guess I expect you to grab the upper area energetically…after all it’s just the right place to properly hold onto.” (Shion)
“I’m going to throw some cold water at you, you horny cat.” (Renya)
Shion started blurting out weird things while blushing, triggering Renya to reconsider whether he had accepted her proposal too hastily, but feeling like it would turn into a similar situation if he were to accept Croire’s request who apparently wanted to tell Renya that he should come over to her, he resigned himself, believing that he had to endure here.
“If it’s Croire, it doesn’t look like there’s any place to hold onto. If it’s her flat stone board.” (Emil)
“Emil…go and get yourself killed by Croire once.”
While lowering his fist on the head of the smirking Emil, Renya finally became a horse rider after accepting the ride behind Shion.
It was Renya’s miscalculation to take this matter lightly. For the dragonoids someone not being able to ride a horse seemed to be extremely rare. Furthermore, the act of accepting to ride behind a woman was not regarded as very admirable by them.
Being showered with plenty of gazes, which saw him as a fool for not being able to ride a horse, in the surroundings, Renya’s remaining positive perception towards the dragonoids was in the middle of taking a nosedive inside his head.
Renya’s displeasure was somehow transmitted to the entire army’s atmosphere. Those not understanding the situation felt suspicious as to what might be causing these chills. Those, who have associated with Renya for a long time and understood the situation, accepted it as funny story, but people like Albert, who haven’t associated with him much yet, couldn’t help feeling like Renya might explode at any time, resulting in him hesitantly running behind Renya with a pale face.
Thus the dragonoid army was marching straight towards the dragonoids’ capital while having an atmosphere of unrest spread among their ranks.