Oukoku e Tsuzuku Michi

Ofuro Ashitsubo

Chapter 232

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Chapter 232

–Aegir POV–

The dragon roars once again .

It feels strong enough to send my consciousness flying if I loosen up my abdominal muscles even just a little bit .

Perhaps sensing he could not make me faint like Christoph, the Dragon stops roaring and approaches me instead .

It probably wants to use a more direct method .

「L-Lintbloom…… chief…… this dragon is not an opponent you can fight!」

Gido is trembling while in a ready stance with his sword as he appeals to me with a tear-stained face .

n.o.body can blame him, asking him to stay calm in front of a giant dragon dozens of meters tall is impossible .

That reminds me, I remember hearing about some dragon of legends .

I don’t know if this is the same one, but it may be intelligent .

I’ll try talking to it .

「We’re sorry for disturbing your place of slumber . We’ll be leaving now so you can continue your afternoon nap……」

When I was still in mid-sentence, the dragon raises its front leg and swipes at me sideways .

I was able to jump backwards to barely avoid being hit but the wind pressure was enough to send me tumbling backwards three times .

「……it doesn’t look like talking works . Everyone, spread out . 」

The difference in size is too great so if we group together, it’ll just squash us all at once .

One person will have to dodge its attacks while the others counterattack .

Fortunately, it isn’t very fast based on that previous strike .

Everyone, aside from Christoph, should be fast enough to dodge .

With that said, it’s hard to believe regular swords can get through the tough-looking scales covering its entire giant body .

The only weapons that look effective are my hammer and Balbano’s axe .

「You guys don’t have to worry about attacking, just focus on evading . Balbano and I will attack so escape to the top when we create an opening . 」

I use a forceful tone while raising my hammer .

The highest point I can reach with my attack is its front legs at best .

I’m not looking to deal a fatal blow, but it might writhe in pain if I crush its finger or something .

Even I feel tremendous pain when I stub my toe on a desk .

「I don’t care if you’re Lintbloom or whoever, but getting hit with a hammer while you’re sleeping isn’t-……」

I pause .

I guess I would also feel like killing someone out of frustration if that happened to me .

「It’s coming!!」

As if understanding my thoughts, the dragon roars angrily and swipes its foreleg at us again .

The trajectory of its claw leads toward Celia and Kroll . I hope they can dodge it .

「Kuh! Can’t hit me!」

Celia hops sideways and tumbles to evade the claw .

Meanwhile, Kroll closes his eyes and stands still .

「Idiot, dodge it!」

I instinctively shout at him .

The large claw looked to tear Kroll apart .

「I see it!」

At that moment, Kroll’s eyes shoot wide open, then he dodges the claw by a hair’s breadth before jumping forward, of all things .

He slashes at the dragon’s giant tree trunk of an arm with his unsheathed sword and a sharp clang reverberates throughout the cave .

「There is nothing my sword can’t cut . 」

At the same time Kroll finished his sentence, the blade of his glittering sword stabs into the ground .

「Your sword broke . 」

「Huh……?」

Kroll’s sword snapped in half right in the middle .

「How mortifying……」

「Like I said, you don’t have to attack . If you don’t listen to what I say, you’ll get b.u.t.tf.u.c.ked!」

「Hey pal, so you swing that way after all?」

Argh, this is not the time for that, Balbano .

That thing is attacking again .

The dragon does not even care about Kroll’s weak counterattack, instead it gets upset, probably from swinging at air, and raises its front leg up high .

「It wants to crush us! Jump backwards . 」

It aimed for Gido .

The limb swinging down was even more lethargic than before

「C-c’mon……guwah!」

The arm that slammed into the ground with unbelievable power sent rock shards scattering in all directions .

Gido tries hastily to block with his s.h.i.+eld but wasn’t able to cover his entire body as he collapses after countless stones pelted his limbs .

「Let’s go, pal . 」

「Right . 」

The movement that limb made as it came down to the ground made a rather large opening .

Balbano and I run simultaneously at the dragon .

Its aim did not deviate from being Gido .

After all, it would only take one more attack to finish him off .

It should retreat if we’re able to bash its leg before it can complete its attack .

However, the dragon didn’t continue its attack mindlessly .

It quickly turned its attention to us, trying to mow us down with its right leg .

「Nnuuun!」

The targeted Balbano deftly rolls out of the way .

You would think as a dwarf he would move slow, but he actually isn’t that sluggish .

「You’re mine!」

Balbano, who reached the dragon before me, took a heavy swing at the dragon’s leg with his axe .

The dwarven axe should be able to split that leg even if it has the same thickness as the trunk of giant tree .

A sharp metallic sound rung out .

「……what the-」

「So that’s not good enough?」

Balbano’s axe snapped in half from the handle portion .

The blade which danced in the air before falling to the ground was also dented with the shape of the dragon’s scale .

Even as axe made with dwarven metal can’t come close to getting through that thing’s scales .

And now I’m the only one with a decent weapon .

Das.h.i.+ng towards the dragon one beat later, I take a swing with my hammer, utilizing the momentum from my run as well .

I purposely aim for the tip of its foot .

The hammer I’m holding is made with the same material as the axe that broke, so it will probably produce the same result even if I get a decent hit in .

「I’ll hammer your toe!」

Not straying from the spot I aimed, the hammer accurately pounded the base of the dragon’s giant claw .

The impact made a dull sound and the recoil made my hands feel numb .

When I look at the hammer, I find that it has become flat and the handle was bent .

However, I can tell the blow was effective .

No blood was shed and the claw didn’t snap off but its body definitely shook when my attack hit its mark .

Its face warped with anger and pain as it glared at me, disregarding both the fleeing Balbano as well as the fallen Gido .

So a dragon feels pain when it stubs its toe too .

I’ll need to use this chance to let everyone escape .

「Run away Balbano, I’ll figure something out . 」

As I say that, I hold the crooked hammer in my left hand so I can wield the Dual Crater with my right hand .

「Sorry . I’m powerless here . 」

Balbano listens obediently, putting Gido on his shoulder before falling back .

Don’t worry about it, it’s already hard enough to fight when I have to be mindful of Celia or Kroll .

It’s easier if that thing aims only at me .

The dragon roars again, though I’ve already gotten used to it by the third time .

「Here I go . 」

I run straight ahead with my hammer and sword in hand .

First, it swipes at me horizontally with its right hand .

I crouch to the ground as low as possible to avoid being hit .

Next, it swings its left hand down at me .

I change course and take a diagonal route .

I use the hammer only to destroy the larger rocks flung at me from the shockwave of the attack, taking the hits from the small rocks with my body .

Naturally, it really hurts but it shouldn’t cause any major damage so long as it doesn’t hit my head .

Now, how will this guy react when I get within range of its feet while avoiding attacks from both of its arms?

It would make things easy if it just moved back, though I doubt it would do something like that after getting enraged from the hit on its toe .

Sure enough, as I get up close, the dragon attempts to bite me, sticking out its neck and opening its large mouth .

「Right there!」

I hurl my hammer as its jaws separate .

The heavy object spins in the air several times before cras.h.i.+ng into one of its teeth .

Take that, you don’t have scales inside your mouth .

The weapon makes a dull thud before that one tooth snaps at the root .

「Oww……」

I hear Celia moan in pain behind me .

Oh right, she recently fixed her cavity .

「I’m not done yet!」

I swing my Dual Crater at the snout of the dragon whose movements stopped due to pain .

It reflexively closes its mouth so I would be slas.h.i.+ng at its scales . It better not break my sword .

If the Dual Crater breaks, Nonna will cry while headb.u.t.ting me a hundred times .

A dull clang rings out on impact, then something falls to the ground a few moments later .

It was a dragon’s scale .

「You did it!」「It shed blood!!」

Celia and Balbano cheer .

The Dual Crater cuts into the dragon’s snout and red blood sprays out .

「……」

However, I’m not happy .

The Dual Crater definitely slashed its body .

Yet I thought I would have made a deep and clean cut from its snout to its chin .

「What impressive scales . 」

I was able to tear off a single scale .

In exchange, it deflects my Dual Crater and prevents me from slas.h.i.+ng its face .

「This will be a tough fight . 」

I settle my heart down and think calmly .

If I can’t tear its body apart, then I’ll have to aim for its vitals .

I don’t know where the vitals are on a dragon specifically, but like all living things, probably its head or heart .

It’s impossible to cut off its head so I either have to pierce straight through the top of its head or through its heart .

The Dual Crater is by no means a small sword, yet it still isn’t long enough for this particular opponent .

Moreover it is hard, even with my strength, to make deep cuts on its body through the hard scales .

「What do I do?」

If I take a clean hit from the enemy’s attacks, I’ll be squished like a little insect .

This fight is a little too unfair .

「Aegir-sama…… is smiling . 」

I unconsciously grin .

This kind of fight probably sets my soul on fire more so than crus.h.i.+ng goblins .

Despite going crazy with rage from getting a tooth broken and shedding blood from its snout, the dragon seems to have recognized me as more than just an insect .

It spreads its previously folded wings, flaps them once and pushes itself backwards .

The gust of wind created from the single beat of its wings makes me lose my footing .

「Uooh, what a strong wind . 」

「C-chief…… Lintbloom…… can fly……」

Gido, who is being carried by Balbano, frantically tries to inform me .

Don’t push yourself, besides it’s already too late .

The dragon rises into the air then dives down toward me .

Its speed is worlds apart from before .

「I won’t make it if I use my head . 」

I don’t have time to think about how to dodge .

I lock my eyes on that thing and rely on my instincts to twist my body out of the way .

I evade its claw, its fangs, and avoid getting pinned by its body, but still get hit by its tail .

Just when I thought I got hit, I rolled on the ground rapidly .

「Aah! I’m going back!」

「You’d only get in the way if you go back! Just go back up . 」

I can see Balbano carrying the shouting Celia as he returns to the rope even as the world spins around me .

After tumbling for a while, I crash into the wall .

I check my body while enduring the sharp pain .

No bones were broken and my innards didn’t fly out of my chest .

It looks like I tripped over the tail rather than getting hit by it .

Fortunately for me, I rolled quite a bit so the speed dropped .

「Gaboh! Gebo!」1

All I know is that the pain hurts and my eyes are spinning and everything in my stomach has now come out .

Because of that though, I’ve sobered up as well .

The dragon doesn’t have any intention to wait for me to recover after throwing up on the ground .

Its earth-shaking steps carry it forward toward me and then it slowly raises its leg .

So it wants to crush me underfoot .

I keep track of its movements while pretending to continue throwing up .

Right when its foot was about to come down on me, I roll to the side and narrowly escape .

「This is an uncool attack but……it hurts!」

As soon as I get up, I swing my sword at its lowered leg .

The razor-sharp blade of my Dual Crater perfectly cuts into the area between its finger and claw .

Unlike its earlier roars of intimidation, it lets out a more of a whining scream .

Fufufu, it hurts, doesn’t it .

I’ve done the same thing accidentally when cutting my nails with a small knife .

I really wanted to cry when that happened .

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The dragon spreads its wings once again and dances in the air, putting some distance between us .

「I have none . Military Minister, Your Excellency . 」

The Cabinet Minister of military affairs nods, taking a breath before saying what he has to .

However Jutland II casually raises his hand to interrupt him .

「Galchenko, I don’t think you are incompetent or disloyal . Everything just didn’t go your way, that’s all . 」

「I-…… I am unworthy of your words . 」

Galchenko sheds tears as he falls to his knees dejectedly .

He wasn’t able to protect his fatherland, he allowed harm to befall the citizens and he even let the capital be turned into a battlefield .

As a soldier, there is no greater shame than that .

The ruler governing Olga Federation lets out a single sigh .

This particular incident was also painful for him .

「But sure punishment or reward is the fate of a military official, responsibility must be taken . 」

After saying that, the King signals for the Military Minister to continue .

「Ivan Galchenko, you will be dismissed as the Supreme Commander of Defense . Further, you will a.s.sume responsibility for suffering defeat and a trial will be held…… tomorrow morning . 」

Galchenko doesn’t say anything as he lifts his body up and bows his head deeply .

「I cannot imagine you will flee after all the achievements you have brought about . Someone will be sent to your home to get you tomorrow morning, so you are free to do as you wish until then . You will return the medal of commander bestowed upon you . 」

After a final bow, low enough to touch his head to the ground, Galchenko begins to leave the throne room .

The King spontaneously stands up and shouts towards the doors .

「Galchenko! ……farewell . 」

「Your Majesty as well, take care . Victory to the Olga Federation!」

The general, slightly more than 50 years old, executes a perfect salute before taking his leave .

The King burns the last image of his retainer of more than 20 years into his eyes .

Everybody in the room knew that the trial could not be held tomorrow .

The reason a trial was deliberately scheduled on the day right after he was dismissed was to protect the man’s honor .

The defeat began with the annihilation of the naval fleet in the first battle, a place outside of Galchenko’s authority .

In order to prevent him from losing any more honor than he already has, Jutland II himself made arrangements for him .

「Your Majesty, subsequently please nominate the new Supreme Commander of Defense . 」

「Stessel broke through the blockade in the north, didn’t he…… . Alright, make it quick . 」

The King covers his reddened eyes for a bit before composing himself .

Post-nomination . White City Headquarters .

「I’m Martin Stessel . I was appointed to be the Supreme Commander of Defense starting from today . 」

He stands upright and salutes to everyone in the headquarters .

Meanwhile, all those present seem to have the slightest amount of anxiety within their eyes .

That is probably because the person who took over the position of Supreme Commander in place of Galchenko was a young man, who looks to be in his mid-thirties .

The man was das.h.i.+ng and handsome enough to star as the lead actor on stage during peace times, but that thin and unreliable look to him fostered more doubt in a place like the battlefield .

Paying no mind to the insecurity in the eyes of his new subordinates, the man with his nicely trimmed blond hair scanned the entire room with his beautiful blue eyes .

「Everyone, your eyes are bloodshot . How many days have you not slept?」

Everybody looks at each other .

「Well, that’s because those guys from the Empire are attacking us incessantly……」

「We’ve only taken brief naps whenever it gets quiet……」

「How many days have you not slept? Answer the question . 」

「Three days!」「Five for me!」

After all the subordinates provide their answers in a hurry, Martin’s expression relaxes and he smiles

「Alright, then here’s your first order . All of you will sleep soundly until tomorrow morning . You do not need wake up for anything unless I call for you . You will also fill your stomachs . 」

The subordinates were puzzled at the sudden order, but Martin continues with a smile .

「What, the enemy is only sending out small detachments because they have no other way to attack . The last all-out offensive was three days ago, so it will take at least four days for them to reorganize . 」

「But how can we sleep with no care in the world while the enemy stands before us……」

Martin continues, interrupting the subordinates who continue to express their worries .

「Put yourself in the place of the enemy commander . 」

His slow and imposing tone echoed throughout the once murderous headquarters .

「Your opponent is a man with red eyes who is both lacking sleep and starving . 」

After saying that, he lightly prods the forehead of one of his subordinates .

「Then you have a man who is full of energy, well-rested and well-fed . Which one would you rather not have as your enemy?」

Then Martin adds one final order in a joking tone .

The strained mood loosens up slightly .

「You have to learn when to be vigilant and when to relax . You’ll just tire yourself out if you remain tense for so long . 」

Martin proceeds to tap the shoulder of each subordinate .

「You’re too skinny . Meat, go eat some meat . 」

「Haha, I’m ashamed . 」

「You stink . Go take a bath before you sleep, but don’t sleep in the water . Don’t drown before going out to war . 」

「Pfft, understood sir . 」

「You look like you’re in need of a woman . Go visit an operating brothel . 」

「I-I’m a virgin . 」

「You have bags under your eyes . What a waste of your lady-killing skills, go sleep right away . 」

「Yessir! I will do so for an entire day!」

After making his way around to everyone, Martin got everyone’s attention once again .

「Don’t worry, we will win . I brought a trump card as our reinforcements!」

The window was opened at the same time those words were spoken .

“Reinforcements”, a word everybody wanted to hear .

All of the subordinates crowd around the window .

「Where are the reinforcements……?」

They couldn’t see the much antic.i.p.ated reinforcements waiting for them outside the window .

The only thing there was the 20,000 troops that accompanied Martin when he broke through the blockade to get into White City from the north .

That was already a well-known fact among all those in the headquarters and they could not expect reinforcements of a mere 20,000 to greatly influence the state of battle .

Seeing everyone’s confused faces, Martin opens his mouth and laughs .

「Hahahaha! Just as I thought from sleep-deprived people, your heads are not thinking clearly! Look carefully . Not on the ground, but in the air!」

The men looked up at the cloudy sky and their expressions changed from surprise to delight .

Something white was floating down from the gray sky .

When that substance touched the window or the faces of the men peeking out, it melted quietly and turned into water .

It goes without saying that it was snow, winter has finally come .

「Look gentlemen, it’s snowing . Winter is here! The Federation’s winter is upon us!」

The murmuring turns into cheers .

It’s the first time the Imperial army has stepped so far inside the Federation, so they have not experienced the h.e.l.lish cold of the Federation winters .

They might be equipped with iron armor but they shouldn’t have carried fur pelts with them .

In addition, the military slaves might as well be half-naked in this weather .

「Gentlemen, eat! Sleep! Prepare for the soon-approaching time to counterattack . 」

The generals in the headquarters rush to fill their stomachs and get rest in bed like they were charging towards an enemy .

The snow falls indiscriminately on both armies, welcoming the harsh winter .

Federation VS . Empire – Comparison of Military Forces (Current + Losses = Max Mobilization . In the case where numbers don’t match, it means there are spare forces . )

Olga Federation

Military Strength – Current: 600 000, Max Mobilization: 2 550 000, Losses: 1 170 000, Civilian Victims: 940 000

Garland Empire

Military Strength – Current: 2 110 000, Max Mobilization: 3 100 000, Losses: 990 000 (Military slaves not included)

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