“…That disguise magic of yours is really useful, Solje. To the point that I want to make it into a song.” (Sharon)
“Don’t joke around. Don’t even try to publicize my infiltration technique.” (Solje)
That’s right, it is that spell.
With the mana of Ares, I can change the color of my eyes and the color of my hair. Ain’t that handy? …And so, I have slipped into the forces of the Vaireid side.
There’s a lot of people in the Union who have black hair and black eyes after all. Also, my mother was from the Union. My father kidnapped mother and married her, and we were born.
That’s why I also have Union blood. The shape of my face might be slightly eastern-like.
At any rate, my disguise was truly working well, and it allowed me to successfully infiltrate the Vaireid division.
In other words, by having both of us infiltrating both sides, we are gathering information and doing disruption tactics.
Well, what we are doing is kinda childish. We are basically fanning the flames of both sides. I am punching seventh division soldiers while disguised as a Union member.
Sharon is going around the bars and endlessly singing songs making fun of the Vaireid… They don’t get along to begin with, so they immediately get in fights.
It quickly turns into a Union side vs Faris side here and there.
Also, we are gathering information. Things like where are the weapons stored, where’s the food; we gather as much as possible about that kind of advantageous info. We are doing a lot of small things that stack up.
Well, Sharon and I have it easy. The one with the seriously hard work is Gandalla.
“Good grief. It is a plan I made myself, but…being back to slave work is depressing.” (Gandalla)
Even if he says that, he has the usual emotionless expression that shows utmost composure. But Gandalla really does have the short end of the stick. This directly hits his trauma as a former slave.
Just imagining the strenuous work of a Giant slave, I can’t help but feel respect.
Gandalla managed to escape from that pain by betting his own life, you know? …And yet, he is stepping into that humiliation again on his own will.
Gandalla’s actions are also important.
He is having contact with the Giant slaves of the Empire army, and is stirring up a revolt from them. At the time when the Ludo Kingdom and the Empire army clash, if they were to turn to the Ludo Kingdom side, we could obtain a big fighting force.
While Gandalla is doing his best in the painful manual labor, he is also stealthily pulling them into the Ludo Kingdom side. Gandalla is skilled. He can vomit out a magic silver rasp from his stomach like a frog.
Just to be clear, this is not a party trick, okay?
With that rasp and the physical strength of a giant, they can scrape off the spell in the magic silver choker and nullify it. In other words, a good number of chokers have already been damaged. Meaning that they have been freed from the strangling spell.
The rasps that Gandalla puked out have been making their rounds in the sleeping quarters of the slaves. The mission of releasing the slaves is in process.
By doing this, Gandalla is trying to pull as many comrades as possible.
And in reality, it is unknown how many would actually turn to our side. But this is a situation where we would like any number more we can get. At the very least, they would be in our debt, so we could reduce our enemies.
What’s supporting the mobilization of the more than 50,000 troops is the heavy labour of the giants. Their numbers are many. There’s about 2,400 giants. Just how many of the chokers will be nullified before the 15 rasps lose their effectivity?
This is an incredibly important mission that could turn the tides of battle. If even 500 of the giants were to become our allies, it could affect the state of the war.
That’s just how the work of men goes.
…And so, what about the women? About Riel and Mia?
They are hidden in the mountains together with Zephyr. At noon, their job is to transport the goods that were pillaged, and report the information that we have gathered to her Majesty. At night, they reunite with us, and participate in the attack of the supply unit and pillaging. It is a simple but tough job.
Zephyr and I are always connected with the magic eye. With one call of mine, I can bring Zephyr and the girls in a set at the shortest amount of time.
Also, we can slaughter the supply units from the ground and the sky. The arrows of the bow princess, the assassination techniques raining down from the sky by the Cait Sith, and Gandalla, Sharon, and I throwing wave of attacks at them. There’s no way they would be able to deal with it. If worst comes to worst, we can have Zephyr burn them down.
Once the attack is over, we have Zephyr carry away the cargo as fast as possible.
How’s that? Ain’t this pillaging with perfect teamwork great? If we pocket the pillaged goods, it can turn into an unbelievable amount of money.
My work ethic won’t allow me to do that. We are not pillagers. This is solely a war between Ludo and the Empire. A strategic move. It is fine to just earn the money we get from Queen Claris as mercenaries.
…Now then, I did say that we are solely attacking the seventh division’s supply units.
I want to explain the effects of this in detail. Please let me brag a bit.
The people from both sides that have been fanned into fighting by Sharon and I are currently creating a serious crack between them, and rumors are beginning to spread.
That maybe the ones attacking the supply units of the seventh division are not bandits but the Vaireid division. Well, it is weird after all. Even though there’s a whole bunch of wagons, several of them disappear in a single night.
Something like that can’t be achieved by your regular bandits. That would be way too bold of them. And even if they were to attack while riding strong horses, there’s no tracks of horses in the crime scene. What’s there are only the tracks of soldier boots… They are our footprints though.
As long as they don’t factor in an unbelievable existence like a dragon, the conclusion drawn by the evidence in the scene is that it is an internal dispute.
It is solely the seventh division in the fire here, there’s no track of horses but footprints of soldiers…on top of that, part of the stolen goods are being found in the cargo of the Vaireid division -that’s our handiwork, though.
The seventh division is completely doubting the Vaireid division. Also, it seems like, just recently, 150 bottles of vinegar that the Vaireid love so much had holes in them and have been made useless which the seventh division probably did to get back at them. They were enraged at that.
We had nothing to do regarding this.
The hate was doing the work on its own.
We did a whole lot of things, and they are showing how bad they get along on their own. Thanks to that, the morale of the Empire is already on the verge of crumbling.
The song composed by Sharon, requiem of the black haired savages, seems to be really popular within the seventh division soldiers, and within the Vaireid division, they are singing the patriotic love song of the Barmoa Union here and there. The phrase ‘destroy the Demon Lord Verius and their foolish subordinate Faris’, is working well.
It looks like the plan of Gandalla is doing well in all aspects.
Even when seeing it all the time, his strategic ability still amazes me.
Everything is proceeding mostly as he planned. What’s left is that I don’t mess up the ‘nail’, and there won’t be any problem… That’s right, the preparations are perfect…or at least, it was supposed to be.
“…Gandalla, how about tonight?” (Solje)
“According to the plan, wasn’t it supposed to continue for two more nights? …We can still pillage.” (Gandalla)
“…No, if we continue taking our time with this, the Empire might make countermeasures.” (Solje)
“Countermeasures for Zephyr?” (Gandalla)
“No, I am not talking about that. I am referring to the manipulation of the morale. I feel like it is going a bit too well.” (Solje)
“I see. It might be a good time to increase the morale by giving speeches and rewards… We will soon be entering enemy territory after all.” (Gandalla)
“Yeah, that’s how it is. And so, what’s your opinion?” (Solje)
“…Right, it is not a bad time. Just that, personally, I wanted to take off as many chokers as possible from the slaves.” (Gandalla)
“I do feel bad about that. However, in war, speed is important. If we have managed to break the enemy’s balance, we have to finish them before they can regain it.” (Solje)
“…Fuuh, it is great that you are here with us, Captain.” (Gandalla)
“…What do you mean?” (Solje)
“With only me alone, I would have gotten way too cautious. I am not good at being decisive in a plan after all.” (Gandalla)
“I tend to do things without thinking most of the time, so together we are imparable then.” (Solje)
“…You two really are a good duo.” (Sharon)
Sharon Doche said this with the face of a kid that’s being excluded from the circle of friends. He is sulking with that child face of his.
I put my arm around his shoulder.
“…Adding you, it would be a good trio.” (Solje)
“Really? That would be great.” (Sharon)
“…Cortez said that saying these kind of things before a big operation brings bad luck, but I would really like everyone to get out of this safely.” (Solje)
“Kukuku, it is true that it does feel ill omened.” (Sharon)
“Yeah, the kind where one of us will be missing by the end of it.” (Gandalla)
“Sorry. It is not like me to get sentimental in the battlefield.” (Solje)
“Right. Listen well, you two. We are right in the middle of enemy territory. I can’t promise you that you will be returning safe… Even with that, we have to do it.” (Gandalla)
“Yes, let’s do this. This is how we roll after all.” (Solje)
With my magic eye, I tell Riel and Mia this through Zephyr about the fact that we will be commencing the plan tonight.
Now then, we should return to our spots—hm?
“…What’s that? There’s a crowd over there.” (Solje)
“…For now, I will go check it. Sharon, you take Gandalla to where the slaves are. Having a giant moving around stands out too much. If you get caught in the insurrection for being a noble and having a ‘personal slave’, the plan will fail.” (Solje)
“Sorry, Captain. I am counting on you to check.” (Gandalla)
“Well then, let’s go, Gandalla.” (Sharon)
The two leave the place with hasty steps.
I…no, those two must feel the same way, but I am having a bad feeling about this. My instinct as a mercenary is never wrong. Especially in the times when something inconvenient to us happens.
“…What’s the matter? What’s this crowd for?” (Solje)
I ask a black haired soldier. Thinking that I am a compatriot of his, he kindly explained the situation to me.
“Ah, the bandits have apparently been found.”
My face was about to cramp, but I maintained a poker face. I am real good at lying in the battlefield and in gambling. I make an expression of surprise at the news. And then, I boldly ask…
“Seriously?! Who the hell was it?!” (Solje)
“See over there… Those demi-humans were the culprits.”
Damn it!! So that’s how it is!!
While cursing in my mind, I look at the demi-humans lined up at the venue. They are surrounded by human soldiers, and the demi-humans are seriously scared.
They must have been beaten up. Their bodies are filled with bruises, and their mouths were sealed with a rope. All of them were young men. Two elves, three dwarfs, and five giants.
Their scared eyes were swimming left and right. They are probably seeing glares of hatred and anger no matter where they look…
A red clothed officer walks towards them. The officer reads a letter.
“These demi-humans are the cowardly bandits that have been attacking our supply units these few days prior!! …Through the result of our investigation, we found the hideout of these thieves, and destroyed it!! …We will now begin the execution of these bandits!!”
“Kill those damn demi-humans!!”
The insults of the humans exploded. The soldiers were throwing angry shouts and rocks at them -while I was grinding my teeth.
I was being crushed by the impulse of shouting ‘They are not the ones!!’. I really want to!!
No, shouldn’t I do that?! I am the only one who can save those sinless people. Can my pride as a dragon knight condone this?!
“You must not, Solje.”
My friend whispered in my ear.
It is Sharon.
He must have returned Gandalla to his cell, and then came back immediately. He is a man that likes events after all. He can’t ignore a crowd.
…He speaks to me in a low voice.
“…If you come out at this moment and call Zephyr…there’s a really small chance that you might be able to save them, but…the plan will go down the drain.” (Sharon)
“Their lives and your pride are both precious. But I don’t want the Ludo Kingdom to fall. We need you in order to win. Also, we must not let the existence of Zephyr be known yet… I really don’t want to let Claris die.” (Sharon)
“…I see. Is that why you are pushing a knife at my kidney?” (Solje)
I point out the pressure I am feeling at the back of my waist.
“…Yeah, I am threatening you. If it turns into a fight, I can’t win against you. Even if I do stab you, you would still manage to kill me. But I can at least strike a fatal wound. If that happens, you will be brought to a treatment room… It means that you won’t be able to save them because of me.” (Sharon)
“You are not the one abandoning them. I am.” (Sharon)
Sharon Doche is trying to cover for me. He is trying to save me from dying for the sake of protecting my cheap justice by degrading himself. That’s right. He may be weird, but he is still my friend.
“…You don’t need to protect something like my pride.” (Solje)
“…Sorry. Please endure this, Solje…!” (Sharon)
I look at the faces of the scared demi-humans.
I watch them -to remember them. I, who have forsaken you guys, will be shouldering you forever.
That’s why, please don’t ever forgive me.
Please hate me.
Hate this cruel man…!
When I die and fall to hell, you guys can cut me to pieces with your blades. Crush every single one of my bones with a hammer.
I am sorry. I am truly…sorry.
I relaxed the strength in my jaw. I try to show a composed mind. I release my furrowed brows.
“…Sharon, it is okay. I have made my decision. I will abandon them.” (Solje)
“…Got it.” (Sharon)
Sharon separates the blade from me.
And then…my longtime enemy appears from within the heated soldiers. A black haired tall old man. Has the face of a fearless warrior.
I remember that face.
Yeah, I will never forget it.
I haven’t met him in person, but he is the man that hurt Cecil and burned her.
At that day when the sky shed tears for my homeland, the magic eye of Ares showed me the scene of half a day ago. The last memories of the now gone Cecil.
At the view distorted by the tears my scared little sister…that piece of shit of a man over there that was 9 years younger at that time was there… He beat up my little sister, tied her, and lit her up…!
…Don’t joke around. Even though you took away the life of Cecil, you have been alive for 9 years! I have been allowing you to live that long after doing something like that to my family?!
Longer than the important 7 years I lived together with Cecil…and yet, I didn’t manage to kill him in all that time!!
My body trembles. My soul is rampaging. My hatred for him, my anger towards him, my own regret!! You incompetent half-wit!! What have I been doing all this time?!
So that I don’t shout out loud as I grind my teeth, Sharon speaks out that dirty name with his own mouth.
“Gazet Klauri…” (Sharon)
He walks towards the captured demi-humans. He unsheathed his katana while still emotionless, and then raises it high in the sky. He was fixedly watching his prey trembling at that one swing that will bring death!!
I see. I understand now. You were watching my mother, who was trying to protect Cecil by serving as a shield, and Cecil, who was hugging the corpse of our mother, with those kind of eyes, and with a grin in that shitty mouth of yours, you swung down your katana, beat them up, and burned them…!!
“…Die under the law of the Empire, foolish demi-humans!!” (Klauri)
Gazet Klauri distorted his mouth into a sadistic smile while saying this, and beheaded an elf… He cut down one scared demi-human after the other. I watched. I watched everything.
It is making me go crazy…!
“…I am sorry. I ask of you, endure. Please endure it, Solje. I beg of you!” (Sharon)
“I know!! …I told you I would abandon them!!” (Solje)
After the slaughter, he shouts to his heated soldiers.
“Gentlemen!! The evil demi-humans creeping at our backs have been slain!! What’s left is to massacre the demi-humans in Ludo and the traitorous humans that favor demi-humans!! I proclaim here!! We will kill the Ludians, steal their everything, trample their country, and destroy it!!” (Klauri)
“Glory to the Empire!!”
“Hurrah for the champion, Gazet Klauri!!”
The songs praising him were resonating in the ground dirtied by the blood of the sinless people. I move away from that place as if Sharon were pulling me out of there.
Right…before I can’t control my killing intent. It really helps me out, Sharon.
Yeah, isn’t that right, Ares?
I am no good… I can’t die just yet. Because I have to atone more. If I don’t, I don’t even have the right to die.
I can’t become a song when I am still this tainted.
I failed to die 9 years ago, so I still haven’t regained the qualifications.
I still have my promise with Ares, something I am shouldering for him.
My family, my lord, my homeland; I have to dispel that resentment.
I will remember you ten people I abandoned today!! I won’t ever forget! Whenever I clench my fist, I will most definitely remember you guys!! I have edged you guys in my soul and will mourn for you.
As a dragon knight, as a Strauss; by fighting, by killing, I will atone for this!!
This rotten Empire and Emperor! Klauri!! I will cut them all down and burn it all down to the ground!! I won’t die, you hear me?!
——The General Renault had noticed the scheming shadows moving behind the chaos.
Playing with his beard while counting them.
There’s a number of methods that can be taken.
The old knight knows well that in order to preserve a pack, there’s the need to make enemies.
——The shortcut would be to capture the true culprits, but…it would take time.
A false arrest works the same when maintaining morale.
Prepare them, go to the village close by, and buy demi-humans with money.
No, use the conscription letter of the Emperor and gather sacrifices.
——Renault called it justice.
All sacrifices are justified in war for the sake of victory.
Doubly so when they are not even humans, inferior distortions called demi-humans.
What’s wrong with rulers eating the life of livestock?
——This is how it should be, it served as a diversion for the soldiers.
Women do work, but killing the enemy is the better medicine.
At that time, the heat overflowing in their hearts will create a frame called nation.
Kill the enemy, that is the trick for patriotism.
——The real culprits? …Just ignore them, is what he said while laughing.
The fact that they can only do sneaky and small scale killings is proof that they are at their limits on what cards they have.
They may be elites, but there shouldn’t be many assassins hiding in the shadows.
The grief was negated…now all that’s left is to advance.
——The soldiers walk towards the enemy territory.
Have they gotten closer than yesterday?
That might be the case, but…the heart of the mercenaries have turned hot, dark, and cold.
The bard understands that tonight’s devilish swordsman…will be the second coming of a Demon Lord.
——The eyes of the bard had seen wings spreading before him, deep black wings.
They spread from the heart of the devilish swordsman.
The strongest, the cruelest, killing like a fiend.
Renault didn’t notice the mistake he himself made…since he won’t be living for long.