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“Set the spears, which were soaked with oil, on fire and launch them.”
“The targets are the immortal soldiers! Do it with the intention to burn them to nothing before they can crawl out from the box!”
Imeraria’s and Nelgal’s instructions are flying around. Brightly burning spears and of course fire arrows are shot towards the castle one after the other by the allied forces of Orsongrande and Horant.
Is it an amusement for the present soldiers that sometimes the main body of a spear thrower ends up catching fire?
“… That, is that fine? To set fire to the castle…” (Puuse)
Puuse, who was assigned the overly ambiguous position of temporary advisor, addressed Imeraria while showing an unsettled expression that doesn’t fit her post.
“No problem. Originally something like a castle is made out of stone which makes setting it on fire basically difficult. Not placing burnable things in the vicinity of the outer walls is the standard. Given that Nelgal-sama confirmed it as well, the surrounding pens and such will probably get burned, but there’s no problem for the castle itself.” (Imeraria)
“I-Is that so? You are quite knowledgeable.” (Puuse)
It was inevitable that Puuse’s thoughts were funny for Imeraria.
“*chuckles* I was born and raised as First Princess of Orsongrande. A castle was my home.” (Imeraria)
Seeing the person she is talking with in a new light, Puuse blushes.
“It’s fine. Please ask me anything as I shall teach you if there’s something you don’t understand. Besides, I believe that there are various things you want to hear from me as well.” (Imeraria)
Once Imeraria returns her sight ((to the castle)), flames are rising on the other side of the castle gate and the groans, which rose successively, are vanishing.
“The disabling of the immortal soldiers seems to be going well. If we fire for a bit longer, they will probably be immobilized completely.” (Nelgal)
Imeraria, who nodded at Nelgal’s words, shifts her look towards Sabnak.
Meeting her eyes, Sabnak nodded silently.
“Well then, Nelgal-sama, just as planned.” (Imeraria)
“Got it. Start the operation!” (Nelgal)
Alongside Nelgal’s order, several spears, which haven’t been ignited, were shot by Horant’s soldiers.
The aim of the spears is Prime Minister Kuzemu who was suspended by a rope outside the castle just like a pilloried criminal exposed to public view.
His voice can’t be heard, but Kuzemu, who watched the brightly burning front yard in a daze, began to squirm again after witnessing a spear hitting the wall right next to him and stone splinters hurling about.
However, his body, which was completely bound by a rope, had less flexibility to move than a caterpillar.
The rope came apart quite a bit when several spears pierced it, but at that time Kuzemu had already died to blood loss.
One spear severed the rope with the tragic corpses hanging onto it by chance. The corpse, which bumped about as it hit the protuberances on the outer wall, fell into the burning front yard.
“His fall has been confirmed. He is likely not alive anymore.”
“Yea, I saw.”
The conversation of the officers accompanying Nelgal was drowned out by the noise.
The soldiers are able to fully savour a sense of accomplishment for punishing a treacherous retainer who tried to manipulate them for his own selfish desires. They were grateful towards Orsongrande’s side for conceding them the opportunity for that.
However, the thoughts of a part of the generals are different.
“… Does that mean that we’ve been told to get rid of him by ourselves in order to not leave behind records that a high official of Horant was killed by the hands of Orsongrande? I don’t know whether it was according to the counsel of that elf, but if you take her lightly because she (T/N: Imeraria) is a little girl, it won’t be strange to have even the name of our country changed before we realize.”
“Sorry, I didn’t hear you properly.”
The scandalous words were lost in the noise.
When the soldier, who was next to him, asked again feeling that he failed to hear an order, he corrected himself after clearing his throat.
“Nelgal-sama’s instruction is to charge as soon as the fire abates. Time is valuable, too. Begin extinguishing the fire with the magic soldiers who can use water magic. Have the infantry check the situation and act as guards of the magic soldiers. We will limit the fire’s range to the still remaining immortal soldiers.”
The magic soldiers, who moved back to the rear and were on standby, slowly advance towards the burning castle after receiving the order. With the water magic users in front, the other magic soldiers are made to follow as well just for caution’s sake.
“Orsongrande’s forces will storm in from the sides and our Horant forces from the front, huh? However, what is the plan? There are no gates at the sides, but…”
There’s no point in me worrying, a single general shakes off his idle thoughts.
“Attack as soon as the fire fighting has finished! We came this far! We will show our true strength to the soldiers of Orsongrande.”
The general showed a smile to the soldiers who answered with an uniform voice.
No matter what, I won’t tell them that everything of this is just a decoy, he smiled wryly.
Inside the castle there were around 50 soldiers of Horant’s Kuzemu camp left besides the immortal soldiers.
Their duty is to carry out miscellaneous chores like setting up traps under the instructions of Gaap, who received training from Hifumi, or checking the situation of the opponents and traps after the enemy storms in, but that doesn’t mean that they are combat personnel.
They are familiar with the structure of the castle as soldiers originally defending inside the castle.
“Will it be alright if it burns this much?”
The room on the second floor, which was made into a break room, was crowded. The brightly burning front yard was visible from that room which is located on the west side of the castle.
“Probably it’s no problem. The castle’s main part hasn’t caught fire and something like the fire spreading won’t happen either, I guess.”
“And the immortal soldiers? They were finished off easily.”
Having received a standby order, except for those who left on patrol, they are bored and put their energy into chatting. For them this was also an important communication for the sake of distracting themselves from their worries.
“The defence at the front was done in. Won’t the first floor be stormed any time now?”
“Yea, if I remember correctly five people have to check the state of the traps on the first floor.”
Five people, whose role had been decided beforehand, get up, take their tools and walk towards the corridor leading to the first floor.
“If it goes smoothly, they might be able to kill a commanding officer or such.”
“From where are you getting such confidence…?”
Staying on standby while talking, they see off those leaving the room and the remaining soldiers stand up as well.
“Well then, shall we prepare for the time when the enemy will reach the second floor after breaking through?”
“… Hey, isn’t it fine if we don’t do it after all?”
Looking at the arranged tools, one of the soldiers mutters.
“Just give it up already. We have no other choice but to do what we were told to do.”
A soldier, who carried the same tool, said “This is our fate.”
A soldier of Orsongrande, who looked up the wall towering high over the surroundings on the east side of the castle dumbfoundedly, respected the soldiers of Fokalore who were climbing the four-meter-high wall swiftly while hanging onto kusarigama‘s with long ropes attached.
A soldier of Fokalore who stood on top of the wall, looks down on the 20 chosen soldier of Orsongrande below.
“Leave the kusarigama as it is. It looks like they have already started to put out the fire. Let’s hurry.”
Once he told them without delay, he jumped off the wall on the other side.
All of the 10 present soldiers of Fokalore climb up the same rope and jump down towards the other side one after the other.
From there on it was this battle’s worst scene of carnage for the soldiers of Orsongrande.
Different from the soldiers of Fokalore, who were at the most equipped with leather breastplate as lightweight armour, many of Orsongrande’s soldiers are wearing metal armours and helmets. It goes without saying, but those are slightly different in weight.
“What a trifle!”
There are also those who cling to the rope, but the majority falls without even holding on for half a minute.
Giving up and removing their equipment, they arrive on top of the wall. Furthermore it took a full 20 minutes until all of them mustered the courage to jump down from that height.
Horant’s infantrymen, who rushed into the first floor after the fire fighting finished, entered an entrance hall where nothing has been placed apart from spaciousness.
“Ouch! What the hell is this?”
While complaining about the pain, the soldiers fall over one after the other and faint in agony.
Once the commanding officer, who entered late, looked properly, the surface of the entrance hall’s floor was covered by fish hooks with strings attached.
It’s difficult to see the small fish hooks even in the bright entrance hall. A soldier, who wore a type of sandal footwear, sat down due to the pain of the hooks. Once he rolls around the one following behind tumbled after getting caught in that and suffered from the small hooks on his whole body.
“Calm down! If you don’t collect yourself… Ack!”
The commanding officer, who stepped over those rolling around on the ground, was hit by a small earthenware jar and a liquid got onto his shoulder. He staggered unintentionally.
Once he looks on his shoulder, a liquid with an indescribable colour sticks to it.
Ascertaining that it’s not an attack that will cause an injury, he feels slightly relieved and breathes in.
An irritating stench, similar to rotten eggs, assaults the commanding officer.
The commanding officer, who inhaled it with all his might at point-blank range, writhes while on the verge of fainting. The surrounding soldiers also try to get away from him.
However, the liquid which was successively thrown at the soldiers, and not only the commanding officer who stopped moving, changed the entrance into a hell of rotten smell in an instant.
Getting entangled by the strings and hooks, they are enveloped by a stench to the degree of provoking their noses’ insides even if they stop breathing while receiving small injuries on their entire bodies. Quite a lot of soldiers are vomiting.
“We’ve been told that this is training, thus it’s fine as their lives won’t be stolen!”
That voice, which slowly mumbled this, was that of a guard who stood on top of a large stairway leading from the entrance hall to the second floor.
The guard, who finished throwing the jars on hand, removes the cloth which he wore like a mask on his face, as it’s difficult to use his voice.
“You suffered attacks after getting caught by traps! I won’t attack you any further since you are fellow countrymen, r-retreat, buueeeehhhhhh…”
The guard, who threw jars together with him, looked at his condition and knit his eyebrows.
“Why did you remove the cloth…?”
The guard averted his eyes from his colleague, who acted recklessly, in a state similar to becoming teary eyed across his mask. It was apparently because he would be lured in if he looked directly at him.
“We lost, eh…?”
The commanding officer muttered while frantically suppressing the feeling of something welling up.
“However, a defeat in this place is not a particular problem.”
They are no more than a diversion to the bitter end. Gaining control of the castle is a fake objective. It’s nothing but causing the illusion that the soldiers of Horant and Orsongrande invaded the castle.
Of course, if he talked about his true feelings, he wanted to get some kind of military gains though.
“Nelgal-sama, may the fortune of war…”
Spinning words of a prayer, the commanding officer quietly closed his eyes and barfed.
“This way is the entrance to a hidden passage. Originally it has been decided that it can only be used by royalty and their chamberlains and only is a state of emergency, but…” (Nelgal)
Nelgal was at a stone monument located inside thickly growing trees just behind the castle where the hidden passage, connecting inside the castle, lies.
Standing in front of the stone monument, Nelgal turns around and confirms his fellow party members.
Two guarding soldiers of Horant, Imeraria, Sabnak, Vaiya, Alyssa and Puuse are accompanying him.
“For people from another country to pass through here… and moreover for an elf to be able to come to our castle, that’s a first.” (Nelgal)
Imeraria nods towards Nelgal who talks in order to gloss over his tension.
“It’s a honour. … Nelgal-sama, let’s hurry. We don’t have overly much time.” (Imeraria)
From far away, on the other side of the castle, the war cries of Horant’s soldiers charging in can be heard.
Conversely, not a single voice can be heard from the soldiers of Orsongrande who should be invading from the east side.
“Alyssa-san, I left the means of invasion to you who went scouting, but is it really alright?” (Imeraria)
“It’s fine, it’s fine. I told them to do it in a simple manner.” (Alyssa)
Imeraria was uneasy about Alyssa who urged on with “Rather than that, let’s go quickly,” but she switched her feelings with there’s something I have to do now.
“Then let’s go.” (Imeraria)
“Yes, I want to put an end to it before victims appear among the soldiers.” (Nelgal)
Once he knocked down a small stone part which was lodged into the stone monument like a wedge, Nelgal pressed against the stone monument’s main body with his shoulder putting quite a bit of strength into it.
Doing that, the stone monument slowly slides on top of its pedestal.
And a stairway became exposed.
“There are no special traps in this passage. It’s a straight path. Please be careful since it has a width allowing at most two people passing through it side by side.” (Nelgal)
The soldiers of Horant head in first and Nelgal follows them.
“Let’s enter then.” (Imeraria)
After Vaiya, Imeraria and Puuse went in, then Sabnak and after him Alyssa.
The inside is dark. The two in the lead and the two knights rely on the light of the magic tools made by Horant which they are holding.
The passage, which continues endlessly ahead without even any decorations on the stone floor, walls and ceiling, stirs up one’s anxiety.
However, the ascending stairs, which are faintly visible on the other side of the lights, were able to bestow hope albeit just a bit.
“It’s a bit dark…”
Imeraria called out to Nelgal who walked slowly.
“How may I help you?” (Nelgal)
“Let’s run. Time is precious.” (Imeraria)
“However, to make you run, Imeraria-sama…”
“It’s unrelated what person I might be.” (Imeraria)
Imeraria in her rider’s suit grasps the lash which she brought along after being trouble with leaving it in her house-room.
“Hifumi-sama told our country’s knights. Social status and race might be different, but all people are equal. I don’t want to become a fool who ignores our objective using the excuse of gender and social status at a time when we should run.” (Imeraria)
“… Got it, you two, let’s raise the pace. It’s fine to not care about the rear since it’s a straight path.” (Nelgal)
The soldiers of Horant begin to run and everyone follows.
“Ha! Ha! I will, definitely, surprise Hifumi, thu-!?” (Imeraria)
“If you talk while running, you will end up biting your tongue, you know?” (Alyssa)
Imeraria, who runs while being out of breath, apparently ended up biting her tongue with all her strength.
Alyssa calls out to Imeraria, who is breathing through her nose with a *fuufuu* while holding her mouth, with a calm face.
Even Imeraria is well aware that their basic stamina values are completely different, but she still gets very angry.
She wanted to make just one complaint, but as her tongue hurt more than she imagined, she couldn’t use her voice.
Seeing Imeraria glaring at Alyssa with teary eyes, Sabnak spontaneously bursts into laughter.
Let’s hit him with the lash once more once we get out of the passage, Imeraria firmly swore.