Oukoku e Tsuzuku Michi

Ofuro Ashitsubo

Chapter 403

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Translator: Nat

–Aegir POV–

Neatly lined up…… can't be said, but not disorganized enough to be considered messy, are a group of marching conscripts. One could clearly see a difference when comparing that group with the army led by Leopolt in front.

「I guess it's a great success even if we only got them armed in time.」

The number of men recruited from Rafen and the nearby villages total 23 000.

Since Lintbloom was also attacked, spare equipment was lacking, so the remainder had to be gathered from the mercenaries of the city and the guards.

「We somehow managed to collect at least a weapon and s.h.i.+eld for everyone. The problem is with armor.」

Myla continues on.

「Thick leather clothing should make do. In the first place, allowing untrained individuals to wear metal armor is not very smart.」

Large casualties will be suffered if they charge head-on, however we can do something to work around that.

There are moves we can make simply because we have higher numbers as well.

「We can get Tristan to think about a solution. Our most important concern is their morale.」

I glance at the faces of the soldiers.

They aren't bad. However, they are not as enthusiastic as when they were defending Rafen.

「It's fine for a group of recruits. Normally you'd expect about 10% of them to run away.」

Although some of the soldiers complained, none of them stopped moving their feet.

「Perhaps 'that' was effective?」

「……the public morals.」

On the night before they sortied, the women staying behind in the city, mostly made up of prost.i.tutes, gave those men a special service.

"Enjoy yourself so you don't have any regrets. Woah mister, you'll have to go to the back. Virgins get priority!"

"You're 22 and still a virgin? Well, with a face like that…… It can't be helped, so do it as much as you want."

The soldiers' faces soften up as if they are replaying the memories in their minds.

「Aah…… that was so good. Entangling our arms and legs during my first time……」

「I can't believe I got to graduate with Lishe from Fairy Garden. Normally, you would need one gold coin to spend a night with her.」

「I couldn't see very well in the dark, but I had a hairy, muscular, and wild girl. When I slammed my hips into her, her moan almost sounded manly. I got her business card…… let's see…… Chrysanthemum…… no, I have to focus on coming back alive first.」

In any case, their morale isn't the worst.

「Let's begin with an explanation of the current situation. The enemy forces are approximated to be 35 000. They were decimated from the pursuit, going from 50 000 to half that, but they joined together with roughly 10 000 from the direction of Malt. Right now, they are confined within a wasteland area and their movements have been restricted through several surprise attacks and ambushes.」

The enemy has done well not to fall apart despite being cornered this far after the pursuit.

「On the other hand, we equal their numbers with just the personal army as well as the Aless soldiers, and overwhelm them if we include the 25 000 recruits.」

It's unknown how much of a factor the conscripts will play, but I don't need to tell Leopolt to consider that.

「With the momentum from winning and our replenished supplies, our superiority won't waver. Therefore, it is not enough to defeat the enemy. We need to demolish the eastern army completely and eliminate them entirely from this war.」

「How will we do that specifically?」

Leopolt and Tristan exchange looks.

Accordingly, I turn to Celia.

「At the very least, we need to kill over 80% of the enemy forces and slaughter all the headquarters personnel under the corps commander.」

「I see, so we're capturing the commander.」

If that was the case, I should have tried to catch the female commander from that time.

No, it would have been difficult to chase in a chaotic situation like that. Well, talking about it now won't change anything.

「Murdering is fine.」

「We're capturing.」

I correct Myla and then survey the battlefield.

「We're going to need a surround of some sort.」

If we charge straight at the enemy and win, they can always run away.

As long as the enemy territory is close to the south, it's dangerous for us to keep chasing.

What should I do?

Alright, let's leave it to Leopolt.

「What do you propose? This is a chance to redeem yourself. Show me you can do a better job.」

Hearing that, Leopolt slightly lowers his head.

「The army will be split into three groups. The main force consisting of the personal army will be directly commanded by me.」

Yes, that would be best.

「Next, Tristan will take command of the large army of recruits. After all, they will mainly be used in conjunction with military tactics.」

「Eeeh……」

Tristan specializes in irregular warfare so that suits him just fine.

Also, don't think I didn't hear that sigh of complaint.

「And you…… please take a squad and guard the area surrounding the headquarters.」

The last one a.s.signed was Myla. Wait, so this place isn't where the headquarters is?

「Headquarters would be where Lord Hardlett is. The small chance of winning the enemy has is to take out the opposing general.」

「And protect him so he doesn't go wild. Oow!」

Celia kicks Tristan for saying something unnecessary.

That was how the roles were decided.

「When are we doing it?」

「Evening, when the sun starts setting.」

「Isn't that contradicting what theory dictates?」

Myla furrows her brow.

As she says, it would be night before we do anything.

It is usually the disadvantaged side who relies on the poor visibility.

If we have the advantage, we should attack confidently when it's bright to guarantee fewer losses.

「There are three reasons. First, the enemy is unfamiliar with this rough land. Instead of blending in with the night and running, the darkness will act as shackles to a smooth retreat.」

Fumu, this place is near Zan Dora, although it is far removed from the road and not often frequented.

「Secondly, I have instructed a small force to prepare an ambush nearby. I can increase their threat using the night.」

So he's already completed the groundwork.

「The third reason is……Lord Hardlett should be well aware of it, no?」

Leopolt sends his gaze behind me.

「……hmph.」

The head of the small frame turns to the side, causing beautiful blonde hair to flutter.

「I'm counting on you, Brynhildr.」

「I'm going to sleep until it's dark. Call me when the sun is gone.」

I grab her before she leaves and kiss her on the cheek.

She slaps my face hard.

「Ow, that hurts.」

「Think of where we are right now, you moron! Out of my way!」

Brynhildr walks away, intimidating Celia and Myla as she does so.

But I can see her smile, one which reveals the tiny fang that has sunk into me countless times.

And so, night falls.

The battle begins.

「Bow cavalry, loose! Don't get into the enemy's range!」

The arrows fired by the bow cavalry standing in front of the enemy fly in an arc.

Thousands of arrows pour on the enemy's heads.

「Stay calm! The enemy cavalry can't charge on a barren land like this! Utilize the terrain and endure!」

「Get behind those carrying s.h.i.+elds. If you can't, then hide behind rocks!」

However, the enemy knew they were being hit ceaselessly by the bow cavalry and moved skillfully to avoid fatal damage.

「It is definitely hard for cavalry to charge on a wasteland. There is plenty of shelter too…… so that's why the enemy chose this place to run to.」

Celia stares this way.

「It's true this place is advantageous for the defending side, however it is a dead end. They would not have chosen this location if they could command in flexible ways.」

Myla responds by my side.

「Ah, a small group of recruits made a move! They're spreading wide to the right and left in an enveloping formation!」

Celai shouts.

The recruits gradually close in on the enemy.

「We're going to be surrounded! Extend both wings and fight them off!」

Recruits armed with spears attempt to encircle the enemy. Seeing the enemy respond to the threat, they quickly pull back.

「They're retreating? Kuh, we can't chase too far. Fall back, fall back!」

Normally, this would be an opportunity for them to strike, however there are a large number of recruits, plus the bow cavalry are glaring at them.

With the enemy giving up the chance to counterattack, Tristan once again shows signs of using numerical superiority to surround.

「Ah! This time, the infantry of the personal army made a move!」

Leopolt acts this time.

Infantry supported by archers march toward the enemy.

「They were so concerned about being surrounded by Tristan that they were late to react.」

Both sides collide and a fierce battle ensued briefly, resulting in our allies slowly withdrawing.

「Our side is moving back. It looks like the attack failed.」

Celia comments sadly, but I wonder about that.

To me, it looks like they secured a corner of the wasteland.

「Tristan is acting again! A large scale charge―― wait, they stopped mid-way.」

It appeared as if the hardly-trained conscripts were fully intent on performing a forced charge, but then changed their minds when they saw the enemy fortify defenses and position archers.

「Leopolt is attacking again.」

He is attacking with cavalry mixed in.

Although their speed is limited on this terrain, they can combine with the infantry to be enough of a threat to the enemy.

「Here they come again! Don't let the cavalry run.」

「Bring the spear unit over! Archers, run to your positions!」

The enemy is always one step slow to respond because they have to be wary of Tristan's use of numbers as a weapon.

「So the recruits are there to intimidate the enemy into thinking a large scale attack is coming when in fact it's the personal army who will ultimately conduct the frontal a.s.sault……」

Not long after they started, Leopolt once again retreats.

Compared to an earlier time, the enemy's formation was clearly more compact and packed tighter.

「This method is fittingly malicious for Leopolt. ……nevertheless, there is something strange.」

I sense something off about the enemy's movements.

No matter how well Leopolt is doing, they're moving a little too late.

「I don't know how to describe it except…… it feels like scattered limbs are forcing themselves to move together. It's almost like the limbs are moving without listening to the head.」

「I feel the incongruity as well. It looks like they're always a step slow to start whatever they do.」

Myla's shoulders come near to mine and she tilts her head toward me.

「……」

I hear the "pshuu" sound of air leaking out from Celia's cheeks.

I don't think that's the signal, but the next development unfolds.

「Here? Here?」

「Don't know, drop it! Hungry!」

「Want meat, also want man!」

Dancing in the sky are the harpies who fly at an alt.i.tude where arrows can't reach and drop large rocks.

Though the rocks accelerate toward the ground, they weren't aimed well, and most of them harmlessly fall to the ground, kicking up a big cloud of dust on impact.

Some unlucky soldiers happen to be hit though and die.

The accuracy of aerial attacks from a high point is low to begin with, but possess tremendous power, so a direct hit practically guarantees tragic death.

「Uwa…… his head was blown off.」

「Helmets…… they're useless against that.」

「Last night's tomato soup was delicious! I remembered that a whole lot of minced meat was included too!!」

Irijina is here beside me too.

The harpies weren't used simply to drop rocks to kill enemies.

「Repel the enemy in front! There are many enemies in the rear too! Don't lose focus!」

「Watch out for the monster birds above too!」

Now, the enemy is forced to pay attention to all directions.

If that's the case――

「Tristan is making a move!」

「Leopolt-san is acting again!」

「Ooh, Lammy grew again. She's at least 9 m……she's knocking people over.」

As Leopolt and Tristan attack repeatedly, the enemy's reaction gets duller and duller.

Eventually, the enemy becomes congregated near the center of the wasteland as if coordinating the timing with the rapidly setting sun.

「Is it time?」

「Just about.」

Right before the sun disappears below the horizon, I glance over at a certain group of black-painted carriages.

The doors of those eerie carriages fling open one after the other.

An individual with a beautiful baby face stares at me with eyes as if they were asking "what is it?", so I put two fingers to my lips and blow a kiss to her.

That individual returns a kiss with pursed lips.

「Fufu.」

I couldn't help laughing, though it prompts her to throw a rock in my direction with immense force.

After the rock pa.s.sed by, I thought I heard something.

「I'm counting on you.」

I don't get a response this time.

Instead, several black winds sweep towards the enemy.

A black whirlwind blows through.

The head of an enemy soldier slides off his body and falls to the ground.

A large hole is punched in the abdomen of another soldier, who slowly collapses as his guts spill out.

A soldier whose head is diced up into many small pieces falls forward without a clue what happened.

「Strain your eyes! Something is out there!」

「These guys also appeared in Rafen…… s-surround them! Surround and box them in!」

It must have been because the enemy saw them before in Rafen.

Although they were surprised, they realize the existence of Brynhildr and her group and start moving.

In Rafen, I hear they were dealt with and suffered a significant number of casualties. It won't be the same this time around.

「Fall back.」

I raise my sword and shout.

Considering the distance between me and Brynhildr, it would be impossible to pick out my command over the tumultuous noise on a battlefield.

But they aren't human.

In an instant, after I catch a glimpse of glimmering red dots from far away, the vampires disperse like a receding tide.

「Looseーー!!」

Luna yells without any delay and orders the bow cavalry to rain down innumerable arrows on the enemy.

After one volley, two volleys, three volleys, and then four volleys, I once again raise my sword.

「Go forth.」

Black shadows dart back toward the enemies.

「Wait, this is different from the time in Rafen! They're cooperating with others!」

「Aren't vampires monsters!? I can understand inciting them to fight, but how do you get them to obey……」

A dainty girl stands silently before the panicking enemy soldiers.

「What's with this kid? Why is she on the battlefield……」

「Stupid, look at those eyes!」

The spear thrust at Brynhildr doesn't reach her.

Siegfried's twin swords wave around in the air and slices up the spear into six sections, while the soldier who lunged at her was cut up into eight parts.

「n.o.body's obeying.」

Brynhildr stops Siegfried before he kills another and steps forward herself.

「I'm simply providing a little a.s.sistance to that short-tempered, l.u.s.tful, stupid, musclehead.」

With a brute strength that doesn't match her delicate arm, Brynhildr holds down the enemy, ready to sink her fangs into his neck.

She would soon notice that his armor and chainmail covered up the man's body though.

「This is in the way…… eei.」

Brynhildr tears off the soldier's head and puts her mouth over his neck to catch the spraying blood.

「…… I'd give it 50 points.」

She casually releases the separated body and head on the spot when finished with it.

With Leopolt and Tristan's skillful attacks and the monster unit, composed mainly of vampires, the enemy began to fall into disarray.

「This is it.」

While skirmis.h.i.+ng with the enemy, Tristan works to complete the envelopment.

The night wears on and the soldiers hidden by Leopolt have not been discovered yet.

If we can perfectly crush them here, we can annihilate them.

Rather than 80%, most of them won't leave here alive.

「The strategy was scheduled to be executed late at night……」

Myla mutters.

That was certainly the plan.

But considering the enemy's movements were duller than expected, we can squash them right now.

If the fight prolongs…… especially if it becomes a melee continued on a field battle, the less-skilled recruits will suffer major casualties.

If we want to finish the fight quickly, now is the time.

「Here we go.」

I grab my sword and the st.u.r.dy weapon prepared specifically for this battle and run out into the night.

I'm on foot this time since fighting on horseback in the dark on a barren land is needlessly difficult.

「I will accomp…… aau.」

I push Myla back when she tried to line up beside me.

It would be trouble if you injured yourself again, so follow behind me.

「Fufufu, stay behind us Myla-san…… aau.」

Celia, you stay a little behind me too.

「Wahahahaha!! I'm going too!!」

Irijina…… well, she'll be fine.

I run left and right, relying on the scattered flames of the torches within the enemy camp.

Of course, I don't try to sneak around so the enemy found me right away.

「It's the arrival of a new enemy! Stop him!」

Three enemies rush at me with spears.

It's time to debut my new weapon.

「Hmp!」

I brandish my new weapon and block all three spears.

Regardless of whether they lunged with full strength, my new partner doesn't even dent.

Actually, two spears bent and broke.

「It's my turn.」

I swing my partner at one of the enemy soldiers.

「Uwah!!」

The soldier hastily prop up a s.h.i.+eld.

But it was useless. There's no way he can defend against it.

My weapon smashed apart the s.h.i.+eld and also dealt damage through his helmet.

The enemy soldier's head caved in greatly, blood squirted from the holes in his face, and he died instantly.

「I'm not done.」

Next I lower my stance and pull back my weapon, building up power before unleas.h.i.+ng a horizontal swing.

I didn't pay much attention to aim, however the blow to the enemy's body armor caused him to cough up gastric fluid mixed with blood, then collapse to the ground.

「Fuuー」

Although its weight is a minor irritation, I have no complaints about its power or durability.

「I-incredible! What unbelievable strength!」

Irijina praises me.

「Staggering strength! And also, I think this weapon suits Aegir-sama more perfectly than anything else……」

Celia sounds like she's implying something.

「……it doesn't match the air a supreme commander should have…… that club is a little too primitive.」

That's right, the weapon I'm holding is an extremely large club.

It was decorating a bar where mercenaries frequently gathered and was taken when weapons were being collected.

Apparently, it was the result of exterminating orcs or whatever, but I don't care about the details.

「Uooooooh!!」

I swing my club and bash the enemy soldier.

「Uwaaah! W-what's with this guy!?」

I pulverise a knight through his armor――

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「An orc! A demonic orc……」

The men pa.s.s beside me as I remain silent.

「You're going to let them go?」

The bell-like voice rings clearly in the night.

「Of course not, they're all dying.」

Before I finished, agonizing cries and deathroes already crossed in the air.

A freshly severed head rolls out from the darkness only to quickly be retrieved by a white hand.

「A man who abandons a woman to save his own life, no matter what the circ.u.mstances, does not deserve to live.」

I turn to the female commander and slowly close the distance between us.

「Don't resist. Now, come over here.」

「U…… uuuu……」

Her body trembles uncontrollably and she stands up unsteadily like a newborn fawn.

「I'm not going to die while I have yet to clear my name!」

She mounts the horse tied beside her and charges at me.

「Moooove!」

「I won't.」

I swing my club at the head of her horse.

With a thud, the horse falls on its side, and then I toss away the club so I can catch the woman before she falls.

「Let go! Let me goooo!」

She struggles even more.

「How troublesome you are.」

Both my hands wrap around the woman's back for an embrace.

「Kuh!」

By the time she rummaged around her waist for a knife, my hands were already squeezing around her tightly.

「Sorry, but I don't have the time right now. You're going to feel a little pain.」

I hold back enough barely so her bones don't break.

「Guu! Uugh! Uuuuu……」

She flails in my arms, eventually dropping her knife, then foams at the mouth and p.i.s.ses herself before pa.s.sing out.

「That's good enough.」

I place her on my shoulder and carry her like a bandit does after kidnapping a girl.

「Raise your voices! Shout for victory! Wahahahaha!! I'll be taking your commander.」

I purposely pa.s.s through the center of the enemy while yelling in an exaggerated manner.

Regardless of the error made by her, it is still demoralizing for the enemy soldiers to see their commander being carried out like a captive.

Along with a timely all-out attack from Leopolt and Tristan, the enemy completely collapsed.

Faced with a one-sided ma.s.sacre on top of being surrounded, the enemy find themselves in the worst situation possible.

「This takes care of the east.」

「We can't do anything if Goldonia loses though. We have to fight again in the west.」

Myla and I smile.

「Ooh, there's a pillar of fire!!」

Irijina points to a tall flame.

「That's where the enemy is running. Is that Leopolt's ambush?」

Knowing him, he must have set a wicked trap. I wonder how many came out alive from that.

The female commander on my shoulder doesn't react from the few b.u.mps as I carry her.

I might have squeezed too hard.

「This fight was a rare one without complaints.」

Celia hesitates after my satisfied remark but decides to chime in.

「I want you to stop fighting with the club though. During the fight, Aegir-sama resembled an orc many times. I'm sorry!!」

I didn't think Celia would call me an orc.

「……actually, I thought so too.」

Myla suddenly averts her eyes.

「Wahaha.」

Irijina turns to me and laughs.

The club is convenient, but I guess it has a large influence on my dignity.

I'll have to look for a proper weapon then.

–Third Person POV–

South Yuguria Empire – A Certain Place.

「Are you really…… okay with this?」

「Yeah, I've already decided.」

After the man answers, the woman looks downward a bit and then replies with a cheerful smile.

「I want to be with you, Zillia.」

「You're really an idiot, Christoph.」

The loss of soldiers in the South Yuguria Empire was increasing as the war intensified.

Although citizens are not yet being indiscriminately conscripted, almost all who have previously served in the military, especially lower level commanders like Zillia, are being called to the frontlines.

「Is this really fine with you? You're turning your motherland into your enemy and you'll be betraying your good friend.」

Zillia asks Christoph with a troubled face.

It was like she had to make the tough decision herself.

「I was originally from the Federation. Besides, I'm not that great of a man to call my motherland my home town.」

Christoph chuckles and then looks up at the sky.

「Still…… I owe a lot to the general and Agor for taking care of me, plus Mack, Gido, and Kroll are good guys. I don't want to fight against Miss Celia either.」

Zillia's expression becomes cloudier after hearing that.

「I hear we'll be dispatched to the west. War is not completely ruled out…… one day, you might have to fight your friend…… kyaa!?」

Christoph steals Zillia's lips.

「Yeah, I'd hate that. It's not like I want to fight those guys, I'd be filled with guilt. Even so…… I want to protect you. I won't be able to take it if you die somewhere I don't know!」

「I don't want a weakling like you worrying―― umhh!」

They kiss again.

「You're precious to me, Zillia…… compared to everything else…… I've fallen in love with you.」

This time, Zillia initiates the kiss.

「I get it…… I'll bring you along as my a.s.sistant. So, well……」

Zillia clears her throat and then brings up the topic with a flushed face.

「It's about time, you know. Not just kisses, I mean. The way things are going, 'that'……」

「No, let's sleep and prepare for tomorrow.」

An unpleasant silence dominates the air.

「Hey…… you're supposed to go for it here! The girl is already in the mood!」

「No, if we're tired and an accident occurs, that'll be bad. Maybe next time.」

Zillia pouts and glares at Christoph.

「Wait, you can't have…… from that kiss just now……? You're kidding……right? Even a kid hitting p.u.b.erty doesn't……」

「Now, let's sleep. Before that, I'll go change.」

Christoph's fate begins to roll.

Protagonist: Aegir Hardlett. 25 years old. Summer.

Status: Goldonia Kingdom Margrave. Great Feudal Lord of Eastern Area. Mountain Legend. Friend of the Dwarves. Friend of the King of Aless. Dragon Slayer Hero.

Elf Mediator. s.e.x King of White City.

Family:

Nonna (legal wife), Carla (concubine), Mel (concubine), Miti (concubine), Maria (concubine), Catherine (concubine)

Brynhildr (gathering), Gretel (concubine), Melissa (fainted), Kuu (lover), Ruu (lover)

Mireille (lover), Pipi (aerial bombing), Casie (MIA), Rita (45 cm above the knee), Yoguri (playwright), Leah (injured)

Marceline (lover), Daughters - Stephanie (lover), Bridget (lover), Felicie (lover)

Natia (wealthy person), Sofia (lover), Sekrit (off on her own)

Sebastian (disciplined), Dorothea (capital mansion supervisor), Claudia (volunteer soldier), Clara (resignation)

Celestina (weak), Monica (troubled), Adela (embarra.s.sed)

Subordinates:

Celia (adjutant), Myla (commander), Marta (attendant), Irijina (commander), Peticheri (intelligence), Luna (healing), Ruby (around somewhere), Gido (escort unit), Polte (dealing with aftermath)

Leopolt (staff officer), Tristan (staff officer)

Claire & Laurie (revived), Lilian (relaxing), Kroll (dealing with aftermath), Alma (dealing with aftermath)

Rafen Defense:

Adolph (dealing with aftermath), Jim (Rafen defense), Suzy (no-good staff officer A), Solana (no-good staff officer B)

Felteris (orgy), Alice (relieving fatigue)

Non-humans:

Lammy (9 m), Alraune (potted plant), Mirumi (monster unit), Balbano (found the path), harpy (relieving fatigue)

Pet:

Pochi (resting), Messerschmitt (napping), Schwartz (mating)

Citizens: 220,000 (uncertain in wartime)

Major Cities – Rafen: 40,000. Lintbloom: 7000. Special Cultivation District: 14,000.

Army:

Under Protagonist: 26 500

Escort Unit: 120

Infantry: 11 800 ⇒ 10 800

Cavalry: 1250 ⇒ 1150

Archers: 1400 ⇒ 1350

Cannoneers: 450

Bow Cavalry: 8950 ⇒ 8670

Aless Soldiers: 3979 ⇒ 3960

Cannons: 60, Large Cannons: 30, Dwarven Cannons: 16, Field Artillery: 20, Chariots: 50

Volunteer Soldiers/ Recruits: 23 000 ⇒ 21 500

On Their Own

Aless Soldiers: 10 000

a.s.sets: 159 500 gold

s.e.xual Partners: 782, children who have been born: 68 + 565 + ???

Enemy Eastern Army Force: Approx. 35 000 ⇒ 4000 (annihilated)

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