We headed east riding on Zephyr.
I could see a precipitous mountain range. A spiky mountain surface that resembles fangs. It would most likely be difficult for people to traverse by feet those steep mountains.
I can understand why they fought in the flat area. There’s no place for an army to move in aside from the maintained big road for public use. Waging a war in that ‘road’ would be way too tight.
The dwarves and the sixth division had no choice but to battle in the place they did. Fumu, the dwarves that glorify recklessness must have hated making a strategy.
They fight way too fair and square.
It is to the point where I don’t know if they are a good army or not.
If Gandalla, Loroka-sensei, or Queen Claris were to take command, they would use the road in some way… Honestly speaking, wouldn’t it be better to just crumble it? It would have served to buy time.
…Were they that confident in the power of their own army? I really can’t understand them. Maybe they were so nationally isolated that they developed a peculiar army vision…
“…Doje, I can see it now.” (Zephyr)
“…Yeah, it is so big I can’t not see it.” (Makoto)
That was a building that had a part of the mountain range remodelled into a fortress. No, it is already the mountain itself. Hollowing out the mountain, they used bricks and stones to turn it into a fortress.
I can’t begin to imagine just how much time and manpower was needed to do this…
“…They made a fortress this big, and yet…they abandoned it?!” (Riel)
Riel shouted. Mia followed.
“What a waste! Even though it is a cool castle!” (Mia)
Is it cool? It is way too grim. It is all ruggy and lacks polish. I seriously can feel a dreadful amount of practicality from it…wait, is it my lack of sleep talking here? Why did I feel practicality from a fortress of this size?
It shouldn’t be possible.
…Against what were they planning on fighting with that fortress?
That’s not a fortress to wage war against people…
When I thought that, the image of Arianrhod surfaced in my mind.
It is said that in the past Zephyr had defeated a Zeruaga that was bigger than a mountain together with the dragon knight princess. That it was after tearing off their windpipe that they finally managed to defeat it.
Was this fortress…made for a war against the Gods? …It would be great if I am just imagining it. If there really is a Zeruaga that cannot be stopped unless you have a fortress of this size…
It is on a level where I don’t even know how to be scared about it. Well, honestly speaking…I would like to fight a monster of that size.
But right now, rather than that, I gotta worry about Camilla who might or might not be trapped in this fortress.
“…Zephyr, does it smell like Camilla?” (Solje)
“No. This fortress is way too big, I can’t tell… But…” (Zephyr)
“But what? What did you notice, Zephyr?” (Solje)
“…I can smell the scent of blood. A lot of people have been killed in the fortress. It is fresh.” (Zephyr)
“…A lot?” (Solje)
There must have been other countries who have sent their own spies, but it shouldn’t be ‘a lot’.
“Oi, Zephyr, how many exactly have been killed? Can you tell?” (Solje)
“…There might be more than 200… I don’t think there are 1,000.” (Zephyr)
“What’s with those numbers?” (Solje)
“That’s a lot. And it brings out a big question. ‘Who’ is it?” (Gandalla)
Did they kill the dwarves here? …Even the imperial army should know that the fighting spirit of the dwarves is strong. Keeping them alive and bringing them all the way here would prove risky. These guys can even hear the voice of the metal, so there’s some that can easily break their restraints.
But if it is not dwarves, then who?
“…Gandalla, do you have an idea of who?” (Solje)
“…We have way too little information of this land. But it would be too much trouble to bring the dwarves all the way here to slaughter them… This is just my intuition speaking…” (Gandalla)
The intuition of Gandalla, that sounds reliable.
“What is it, Gandalla?” (Solje)
“…Isn’t it an attacker?” (Gandalla)
“…I see. It is not that the Empire brought people here to kill them, but that people prepared to become corpses attacked this fortress?” (Solje)
“But with those numbers, you can’t even deal a surprise attack. It would stand out too much.” (Riel)
“Yeah yeah! You can’t do an infiltration unless it is a low number of elites!” (Mia)
The female mercenaries complain.
We know that, but this is Graces, you know. Right, Gandalla?
“There’s an underground tunnel here. If you use that, numbers don’t matter.” (Gandalla)
“I see. Then, dwarves?” (Solje)
“It is not from dwarves…it is the smell of humans…maybe?” (Zephyr)
“You can tell the difference of the scent of blood between races, Zephyr?” (Riel)
“Yes, a little bit. If Jean were here, he might have been able to tell the race.” (Zephyr)
Jean, huh. Right, if he were here, this mystery would have been solved faster, but it can’t be helped.
“In any case…there’s no doubt it is a strange fortress with a lot of corpses.” (Solje)
Damn, this bodes bad, Camilla.
Don’t go being one of those corpses.
“…There’s not enough information to ponder. We are infiltrating. Zephyr, that ridge…on that rock. Get close to that. We will move through the ridge, so snipe the lookouts on the way, Riel.” (Solje)
“Understood! Let’s do our best, Maje!” (Zephyr)
“Yeah, my arm is itching. After that, I will be on standby with Zephyr in the air. If there’s a movement in the enemy army, we will tell you through Zephyr. Give out orders then.” (Riel)
“Got it. Now, Mia, Gandalla, we are moving to that big boulder there.” (Solje)
“Then! Mia first~!!” (Mia)
Mia is an outdoor creature. It was abrupt like a squall. She jumped from the back of Zephyr to the boulder that is around 3 meters apart..
She is hopping on that boulder and confirming its safety.
It is really worrying.
“I-Is it okay, Mia?!” (Solje)
“Hmm, it is kinda okay.” (Mia)
“Kinda, huh.” (Gandalla)
The heaviest one here, in other words, Gandalla, who has the highest chance of toppling that big boulder, mutters this lowly.
“Fumu, then, let’s test it out!” (Gandalla)
And then, Gandalla tests his own luck. The giant jumped up from the back of Zephyr. The jump distance is enough, but the problem is what comes next.
The weight of it was visible. But the big boulder didn’t move.
I see, then, I will go too.
I went into the sky without hesitation. Not even Gandalla toppled that boulder, so it was okay even when I got on.
And then, we walked the ridge of the mountain. From left and right, it was rising so perpendicularly 100 meters up it felt like sliding would make you fall all the way down.
This is the basic of mountain walking. A ridge is a precipitous path.
I say that, but this altitude doesn’t scare Mia or Gandalla, so our courage is quite the thing. Me? Of course, I am not scared.
I forgot the fear for my own life in the womb of my mother.
But this lack of fear has another reason aside from us being weird in the head. This ridge has a road. The rocks have been crushed to make it easy to walk, and there’s metal plates nailed into the mountain surface. Thanks to that, it is pretty easy to walk.
Seeing this, that big boulder probably wasn’t natural either. The location was strange. That boulder might have been fixed in place with metal as well.
For what? …If they were to take off that latch when they are fighting an enemy, they can drop them real good onto them. It would be real effective on enemies below. But what kind of enemy would come to such a mountain?
The questions pile up. But right now we have to do something about the archer that is yawning real closeby. He is alone.
Have Mia run like the wind and assassinate him—is a plan, but I left it to Riel.
The bow princess stands up on the back of Zephyr and the speedy arrow cuts through the wind and pierces the helmet and brain of the soldier. Instant death. His body collapses right there, and with him leaning on the outpost, he falls over and drops from the more than a 100 meters high cliff.
This is how we will be dealing with the corpses.
Now then…that outpost has a ladder that we can use to stealthily infiltrate the fortress. It probably also serves as ventilation for this fortress. It was made like a chimney and connected directly to the mountain.
The breath of people must be mixed in it as well, a somewhat damp and unpleasant wind was coming out from that hole.
Judging from the sound of the wind, the depth of the hole is around 200 meters. It is quite deep. So this is the first feel of this ‘fortress’.
This culture really does tickle my interest.
I would like to make a fortress like this too.
There’s no lock going down. Well, that’s understandable. No one would think this place would be attacked…but underground might be a different story.
Maybe something attacked Camilla when she was infiltrating the place? Well, we will do what we can. We will leave the underground to Otto, and we will work here.
“Now then, let’s dive into a mysterious dungeon.” (Solje)
- Chapter 141
“I’ll be going…”
In this kind of mission, the one who shows peerless power is Mia Mar Strauss. She uses the inner side of the leather gloves and boots to slide down the ladder of this outpost.
Holding the outside of the ladder with one hand and one feet to slide down faster.
“It is a feat I can’t do.” (Gandalla)
“You are a giant after all. You are in charge of the brains, so there’s no problems.” (Solje)
“Yeah, and I will be playing the slave giant again.” (Gandalla)
“Don’t complain. You can at least play it off by simply wearing ragged clothes, you know?” (Solje)
“Right. Thinking about the shame you have to face, Captain, this is better.” (Gandalla)
“Yeah, I have to wear the clothes of an imperial soldier squire…” (Solje)
We have done a few preparations for this infiltration. I didn’t bring my dragon longsword. It would be bulky. Also, I left the armor that I went through the trouble of getting back.
I have also taken off my eyepatch, and the usual golden shining cool dragon eye has been changed to the same blue as my right eye with magic.
And so, to top it off, I am wearing the imperial soldier clothes of a soldier that Gandalla killed and retrieved when coming to Graces.
Moreover, a squire…
“…Next time, at least make it the clothes of an officer. Cosplaying as a useless newbie is shameful.” (Solje)
“That’s a weird pride there. Now, let’s go. We are making Mia wait.” (Gandalla)
“Yeah, I will go. If the ladder breaks because of your weight, I will catch your fall.” (Solje)
“Is that chivalrous spirit of yours the trick to your popularity with women?” (Gandalla)
“Must be. Now then, I will try imitating Mia.” (Solje)
I also grab the outside area of the ladder and slide down!
“Hahaha! This is pretty fun!” (Solje)
A few seconds after, I infiltrated the inside of the fortress.
Mia has already erased her presence. If I didn’t have my dragon eye, and I wasn’t a siscon, I wouldn’t have been able to notice Mia who is behind that big pillar.
I use the hand sign language of Cortez to send instructions to Mia.
[Go check the south area. Gandalla and I will check the north side.]
Mia threads in the darkness and uses [Fairy Move]. She can always do soundless kills. Her assassination skills are improving daily.
A man who sucks at being stealthy comes down from the ladder while shaking the ladder and making creaky sounds. Luckily, the ladder didn’t break. Dwarves really do good jobs.
“Fuh, it wasn’t fun exercise.” (Gandalla)
“Figures. Your moves lack style.” (Solje)
“Mia has moved already, right?” (Gandalla)
“Yeah, we are splitting the jobs. We are covering the north. Oh, the first victim appears…” (Solje)
Gandalla hides himself behind a pillar.
That’s someone who has been living with a big body for 34 years, he is hiding well.
Then, I will act my part. I head to the soldier on watch and walk by with a smile on my face.
“Hey there!” (Solje)
“What’s with you? Return to your post.”
“Don’t be so stiff, man. No one’s gonna come anyways. The General and the other big shots aren’t coming back either, right?” (Solje)
“Are you drinking? …Be always on the watch for the movements of the Separate Faction! They know the underground paths several times better than us.”
“Yeah, I got it… Sorry. I am just a bit tired.” (Solje)
“As long as you understand. Now, return to your post, okay?”
“Yeah, get him, Gandalla.” (Solje)
This regular guy was too into the conversation, it was easy for Gandalla to take his back. Gandalla grabbed the jaw of this pitiful sacrifice with his inhuman strength, not allowing it to move a single millimeter.
He can’t speak at all like that. It is a situation where he has to express his many emotions through his expression.
Now, before we begin the fun time, let’s enter this unoccupied room. My dragon eye can detect the presences inside a room. See? Just like I saw, no one is here.
“Gandalla, escort him here. Aah, you, don’t struggle either. I don’t want to kill you pointlessly.” (Solje)
Gandalla takes the soldier to this room. I undo the spell of my left eye and return it to its usual golden luster. Seeing my dragon eye, the soldier must have noticed who I am. Have I become famous?
“That’s right, I am the Demon Lord, Solje Strauss… I am also called the Undead King of Zakuroa. The nemesis of you guys.” (Solje)
“I will teach you the rules of your conversation with me. If you shout, I kill you; if you try to run away, I kill you; if you lie, I kill you. It has even fewer rules than kick the can. Do you remember them?” (Solje)
Gandalla releases him.
“You are free now. Are you going to shout? Run? Lie? …With my dragon eye, no matter which you choose, it would end up in a tragedy, but…what’s your choice?” (Solje)
I can tell his emotions with my dragon eye. A deep blue of fear. His shoulders are shaking. Is my eye that creepy? How shocking.
“Now, it seems like you have understood the rules for our conversation.” (Solje)
The teary soldier nodded several times. He is trying to appeal to me. A nice sign.
“Can I ask for your name? No need to tell me your family name, I won’t bring trouble to your family.” (Solje)
I also show mercy in some areas. It is the basics of negotiation. The carrot and stick. Even if I were to learn about his family name, I wouldn’t be able to do anything, and don’t plan to, so this works perfectly as a threat.
The soldier doesn’t seem to be as scared as before. He may have gotten a bit relieved that I have a bit of a conscience.
The young man with light brown hair and muddy blue eyes finally opened his mouth. He introduces himself to me with a dry voice.
“…I am Ron.”
“I see, a normal name. Were you blessed with good parents?” (Solje)
“…I-It is most likely normal, but…they were kind to us siblings.”
“Is that so. My mother and little sister were betrayed by your guys, you see. They were burned to death.” (Solje)
“Don’t apologize, it is a story of the past… And so, I have a few questions I have for you who dons the clothes of my grudge. Will you answer my question honestly? My eye can see through lies, you know. When that happens, I will kill you and drop you from that window.” (Solje)
Gandalla understands timing, the sound of the board covering the window being taken off resonated in the room. Light came in, it is a warm light where the sun is still low.
Why are you about to cry while being bathed by this sunlight?
“Now then, let’s begin.” (Solje)
“P-Please don’t kill me…!”
“I don’t mind not killing you. If you answer my questions obediently, that is.” (Solje)
“Y-Yes…if it is something I know, I will tell you anything…!”
It seems he is plenty scared. Just like the great philosophies of love and justice, the fear of death also makes people obedient.
That’s why I like people that are scared of me.
“First, Ron, are there captives here?” (Solje)
“…C-Captives…w-we do, but…”
“Within those, is there a young blonde and violet color eyes woman that looks like a human?” (Solje)
“19 years old. Blonde and violet eyes. Her height is a bit lower than my shoulders.” (Solje)
“…You do, huh. Spit it out honestly. There’s no point in lying.” (Solje)
“…Y-Yes…I probably…know her.”
“Not certain information?” (Solje)
“I-I don’t even know her name.”
“Her name is Camilla Breeze. Did you guys torture her to death?” (Solje)
The soldier is silent.
Right, I am pretty angry. It has been a while since I have peeked at the heart of someone, but it is working even better than usual.
Is it because of my daily training? Or…the result of fighting Zeruaga Aggraias?
Her ability was the worst.
I was made to see my little sister Cecil burn several hundreds of times, and I used my dragon eye desperately to break through that illusion. At first it was to escape, but in time, I tried to understand it even deeper. The dragon eye is an inheritance from Ares.
It is not a power used for the sake of running.
I began concentrating on learning about the inner workings of that illusion. I failed several times, and heard the screams of agony of Cecil uncountable times. But I didn’t stop.
By the time my heart was pretty worn out, my dragon eye saw the spell of the Zeruaga. It resembled quite a lot the structure of magic. It was drawn with something that wasn’t mana. That’s why I grabbed it with my hand and broke it.
After that, I woke up.
Did that experience sharpen the ability of the dragon eye to bring out more of its power? My magic eye can now extract more information regarding death.
Right now I am watching him and other soldiers torturing a girl in the darkness. Her hair is blonde. Her face is swollen, so I can’t tell her features. Her eyes are closed tightly probably to escape the tragic reality, so I can’t tell what eye color she has. Is this the Camilla I know, or is she a part of this ‘Separate Faction’?
“Hey…was it fun?” (Solje)
Ron, you are trying to break the rule.
You are trying to lie.
“What’s the matter? Not answering? 10, 9, 8…” (Solje)
“W-Why are you counting down?!”
“Imagine it. Your heart should have the answer. 5,4,3,2…” (Solje)
“I-It was!! It was incredibly fun!!”
“…I see. I would like your family to hear what you said just now.” (Solje)
“I-It is not like I did it because I wanted, we had to make her spill the information she had…”
“Hoh? And yet it was fun?” (Solje)
The soldier falls silent. Yeah, I want to kill him right this instant, but I still have to extract more out of you.
“The conversation stopped there. At this rate, the mood will be spoiled. Hey, I will change the question.” (Solje)
“…You said it before, right? The Separate Faction…what group is that?” (Solje)