Oukoku e Tsuzuku Michi

Ofuro Ashitsubo

Chapter 516: My Name is Wilhelmina

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Chapter 516: My Name is Wilhelmina

「Guu……what is this?」

Celia pinches her nose with one hand while she draws her sword.

Leopolt, who is coming along this time, falls back beside me and Irijina steps forward in his place with her spear at the ready.

「This stink, South Yuguria’s last base of resistance……doesn’t seem like they are alive.」

Erich covers his nose with a handkerchief as Dingus and the guards draw their swords with sharpened gazes.

I also hold the Keravnos under my arm just in case.

「It’s strange for them to be annihilated.」

Leopolt and Erich also agree with me.

We had seen many destroyed villages, towns and forts on the way to Poron, but none of them reeked of rot.

Insects want to eat us.

They either gobble up whatever they kill or suck out all the insides.

They don’t leave anything behind other than skin, bones and blood stains.

No matter how deep underground the s.p.a.ce is, there should not be such a strong smell of death because of the ventilation holes in the wells.

「We will have to check it out.」

I grab a torch and descend the stairs leading underground.

「It’s dangerous. Shouldn’t we send in a search party first?」

「I don’t hear any special sounds or feel any presences, it should be fine. Sending a search party will be twice the work.」

Erich and Leopolt sigh at my non-argument.

If this is South Yuguria’s final base, Wilhelmina will surely be here.

I don’t have any lingering attachment.

In our previous conversation, we had completely made enemies of each other, so if we were to meet again on the battlefield, I always intended to mercilessly cut her down.

「No wait, if she says, “I surrender. My body and heart are yours, spare me”, then what would I do? She may be an enemy that we can’t comprehend, but that beautiful face and perfect figure……it’s a man’s duty to plant his seed when given the chance-」

「Aegir-sama, don’t zone out!」

「Don’t do that disgusting falsetto.」

A pincer maneuver by Celia, who has already gone ahead, and Erich from behind silences me.

In any case, she’s that much of a beauty.

She might not be in her original form at this time, but if I find her corpse, I’d like to at least give her a proper burial and say a prayer.

「It’s the end of the stairs! I don’t see any enemies……however, please watch your feet.」

Celia walks down the last few steps.

Fortunately, the enemy isn’t waiting for us in swarms.

Celia sticks to the wall as she advances along the pa.s.sage and peeks into the room before jumping inside doing a forward roll.

「Clear!」

She shouts and rolls out, sticking to the walls while moving to the next room.

Erich and I slowly take large strides behind her. Mm, she’s so cute.

「She was an immature little girl the first time I saw her but now……hey Hardlett, can she pour my drink next time?」

「I refuse.」

Erich s.h.i.+fts his attention to the girl on my back.

「I always thought the girl on your back was a ghost, but now that I look closer, she’s pretty…… Won’t you lend her to me for one night?」

Rafaella stares at Erich’s face, blushes, then after thinking for about ten seconds, buries her face in my back.

She probably hesitated because Erich is handsome.

「If you say too much, I’m going to slam my d.i.c.k into the widow at the capital’s fourth spot.」

Erich smiles sheepishly and mutters, “How do you know about that?” quietly.

The reason we can talk about such stupid things is because we didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.

Unlike the secret pa.s.sage through the sewers of Biado, this place has been created somewhat as a shelter.

Although the path is a little old, it is paved with stone and while either side is narrow, there is a private room with chairs and beds alongside it.

「There are no traces of a battle. Moreover, the carpets and sheets are not in disorder.」

Leopolt says as he turns the room inside out.

「Torches haven’t been taken either.」

Sekrit knocks down the torches set up in the pa.s.sage.

「The food storage is also intact, huh?」

There is even a well and pantry stocked with dried meat and pickles in preparation for holing up longer.

This place doesn’t have any signs of a fight either.

I try one bite of the food and don’t find anything wrong with it.

「Running out of food and fleeing in desperation――seems unlikely.」

Plus, they would at least bring preserved foods if they escaped.

Even if I a.s.sume there was some sort of argument, I can’t imagine the food storage remaining untouched.

「I don’t get it. It’s weird that there isn’t a single corpse here.」

Erich picks up the same meat I chewed on and opens his mouth, but returns it to the shelf without eating it a few seconds later.

d.a.m.n, he backed out.

「I guess we have to follow our only lead.」

The one clue we have is the smell of death……

「Aegir-sama――!!」

I grab my spear and dash to meet Celia.

When I reached the source of the voice, I pulled Celia by the back of her collar and leapt backwards.

「Look!」

Celia points as she dangles by her collar.

There is a hole in the several meters tall marble wall.

A single spider corpse is nearby and two skin and bone remains of humans.

「So they got in through here.」

Celia takes a peek but it’s too dark for her to see anything.

「I don’t know how they did it, but they summoned the insects to try and annihilate us along with their own people. They did so while keeping safe underground.」

Erich tosses a torch into the hole. Nothing moves and nothing else can be seen.

「However, they were somehow found. And they were better at digging than expected.」

Erich and I each pick up one of the empty skins.

「Conduct a search, keeping an eye out for remaining enemies. Find the heads of the enemy king and upper bra.s.s. I don’t think you will though……」

After Erich’s order, the soldiers increase their alertness and the still-dangling Celia raises her sword to eye level.

「I guess I’m done.」

One of the corpses was wearing a maid uniform and the other was wearing armor.

Individuals who, even after crawling underground, keep their guards and maids…… this room is also bigger and more luxurious than the other rooms.

It’s safe to say my goal is gone.

I can’t turn back because Erich is here, so I’ll just tag along at the back later.

I slowly follow in the rear as Erich advances with his guards.

「The hole to the abyss is closed so the insects are done. There should be a few survivors.」

「Um, you can lower me now or else I can’t take my position in battle.」

Then it happened right as I was about to put Celia back on the floor.

A high-pitched cry resonates into my ear.

「What the-!?」

「Wah.」

I couldn’t help dropping Celia.

Looking for the source, I find a small fox at my feet.

There was no time to wonder how long it had been following us.

I’m no expert in foxes, but I could tell that howl is a warning.

I twirl my spear 180 degrees and stab the spider on the ceiling.

「They are above us!」

The light from the torches held by our hands created a blindspot on the ceiling.

Reacting to my yell, the guards began thrusting their spears upward.

「They’re in the small room to the right too!」

Celia points as she rubs her reddened nose.

Irijina rushes in, stomping on a worm that emerges from under the bed and sticks her spear into its mouth.

「Behind too!」

Rhinoceros beetles appear out of nowhere.

「I’ll hold them off. You aim at the bottom!」

Jumping in was Dingus, the commander of the eastern army who has chosen to accompany me to the end.

He plunges his greatsword into the beetle’s jaws to seal its greatest threat, and then lifts it up.

「Uu, no……but……」

The one perplexed at why he followed me this far was Rinuga, the leader of the South Yuguria refugees.

He recoiled at the sight of the beetle, not having gotten over his fear, but once Dingus shouted at him, he roared as he crawled under the beetle and pierced the soft underbelly with his sword.

「Multiple enemies in front!」

Spiders fall from the ceiling one after the other and the guards could no longer stab them all.

One of them tries to squeeze into the ranks.

In a short but firm breath, the four fore legs fly off, and the spider leans forward.

Almost simultaneously, a sword sinks into its head.

The one who swung the sword was Erich.

A bee then flies over the spider.

Erich, with his sword already pulled behind his shoulder, takes a step toward the bee.

「Shh!」

The fluid slash slices the bee’s wings.

Having lost its method of flight, the bee crashes and slides along the ground in agony.

His swordsmans.h.i.+p is elegant unlike mine which relies on power.

I ready my spear to face further incoming bees.

「Uooooh!! Behold my sword play! Consolation money Savate!」

Jim knocks the insects down before I could make a move.

He’s being suspected? How skillful.

「Well, looks like we’re surrounded.」

I say to Sekrit as I stab the large eye of a bee.

「Yeah, from all sides. Sorry for jumping in.」

Leopolt and Celia seem to be trying to open a path of retreat in the rear with all the other guards.

Despite being among soldiers, that guy occasionally steps forward to finish off a spider himself.

He never really fights on the frontlines but he’s pretty skilled, huh?

「How many are down!?」

Erich shouts.

「n.o.body in front, just barely!」

「Same at the back, we narrowly held them off!」

As I consider whether to aid the front or back, I ease up my strength.

It’s odd. Normal soldiers are like a one and spiders are like a five on a scale of power level.

If they had support from defensive encampments and siege weapons, the number would be higher, but this is a regular encounter.

In other words, it’s strange that we haven’t lost more troops.

「Cease attacking! Get into defensive formation!」

「You, giving out your own order!」

Erich glares at me, meanwhile the soldiers stop moving, unsure of what to do.

It’s a fatal opening, but it doesn’t change the situation.

The insects stir restlessly next to the soldiers and don’t attack.

Although the insects were initially on the ceiling and approached us sometimes, not a single one attacked.

Erich also returns to my side, confused.

「What’s going on?」

「How would I know?」

I spread my arms to display my bewilderment.

A spider pa.s.ses by me and Erich.

Feeling something latch onto my leg, I look down and see the fox that warned us earlier.

It might not have mattered in the end, but I guess it saved us in that moment.

Let’s brush its fluffy tail.

「So, what do we do?」

Leopolt interjects when I pose the question to Erich.

「We should investigate deeper. The insects here don’t seem like a threat. There is no need to search this place again.」

Erich and I unconsciously look at each other.

Even I’m a little worried about going forward in such a situation. Leopolt isn’t someone who typically suggests reckless ideas.

Leopolt proceeds to draw his sword and whispers to us while pretending to lead the way.

「I can see the insects moving uniformly. They are blocking the exits we have prepared for retreat.」

「I see! When the mission is over, why don’t we drink some delicious booze at that shop.」

Erich gives a loud unrelated reply.

A worm happens to crawl by our feet.

The way it’s keeping a fixed distance away makes it seem like the worm is eavesdropping.

「Also, I’ve be feeling unnatural vibrations on the wall for a while now. Something with considerable ma.s.s is on the other side……」

「Fufufu, you’re a pervert too.」

It means that if we start running, all the insects will swarm and there is a possibility that insect hydras will burst out from the wall too.

「I sense a distinct intelligence from the insects. Or should I say, they are being led by someone―― Wasn’t that also the case when we were trying to close the hole?」

Indeed, the insects were stationed on the mountain regardless of the time of day and waiting for us.

Moreover, the swarm of caterpillars also has to be due to a prediction that we would come by air.

「If there is a leader, our situation is pretty hopeless. However, there should be a reason why they aren’t stopping our forward progress.」

「Asking about that……heheh. Don’t be so naughty! It’s wrong!」

Celia copies us and yells something that doesn’t connect to the topic at hand.

「Feign compliance and kill the leading unit. That is the best plan. I will also do what I can.」

That is all Leopolt says before leaving us.

The deeper we get, the stronger the smell of death gets, and when it reaches the limit, we arrive at a room that is a dead end.

「Is this a throne room?」

The ceiling is twice as high, and although the floor is not top quality, it is more carefully paved than the roughly arranged stones in the other areas.

It’s a vast room――something to be expected of for an underground s.p.a.ce――with a chair resembling a throne resting on a step higher than the ground and hanging red curtains that hide the stone wall behind it.

「I was imagining piles of dead insects and human corpses.」

The stench is as foul as ever.

But not a single blood stain is in sight.

「Cleaning is important. It is necessary.」

A woman wearing a black mourning dress appears from behind the red curtain.

She has a s.h.i.+ny crown on her head.

The woman slowly sits down on the throne.

She has l.u.s.trous black hair, a beautiful face that would make any man do a double take, and a slender body.

「Hiiie……」

Rafaella jumps off my back and cowers in fear on the ground.

「Wilhelmina……」

Erich’s eyes open wide as he readies his sword.

「She’s alive.」

I do the opposite and put my sword away.

「Why, you idiot!」

Erich scolds me and I hastily unsheathe it again.

Wilhelmina props up the crown that almost slips off her head with one hand and turns to us――no, to me, in tears.

I was expecting her to beg for her life, but the words that came out of her mouth were completely different.

「I am delighted that you found me again. n.o.ble, Hardlett. I knew you would.」

「H-hm?」

My head tilts to the side. In doing so, Wilhelmina also does the same and extends her hand out.

The bracelet on her wrist falls to the floor with a bright cling.

「I want to talk. Join.」

I unconsciously pull away.

She probably meant to say, “come close, I want to talk” but her expression is as furious as someone who wants to avenge their parents.

It’s too weird no matter how I think about it.

But my eyes are saying this is Wilhelmina.

Her height, figure, and even the size of her b.r.e.a.s.t.s are exactly as I remember them.

「You won’t come? I’ll make it so you want to then.」

Wilhelmina sticks her hand under her dress, pulls down her underwear and rolls up the train of her dress.

Her thighs, navel and seemingly unused genitals are in full view.

That place is lovely.

「According to my memories, you were aroused by my body and wanted to shove your p.e.n.i.s into my genitals. Do you want to come now?」

「Guh……something feels off.」

「Yeah, she’s not normal.」

While leaning forward, I look over at Erich, who is also somewhat lurched.

「Let us greet each other. Let us choose to embrace, kiss, and converse with each other. We should prioritize negotiation over combat if we are to rule the Central plains.」

Wilhelmina opens her arms innocently as she speaks and kicks her feet playfully as if she is a child waiting for her parents to pick her up.

「……did she go mad from the constant defeats? Maybe the people around her got fed up and left.」

Erich mutters.

「Is this how a person goes insane? It looks more like her words and facial expressions are disjointed, like she doesn’t know how to use them.」

Leopolt says with a stern look on his face.

「Say, Wilhelmina.」

「Hm?」

She replies in a cute voice, but displays a surprised expression when she is supposed to smile.

When we scowl back at her, her face changes to a crying one, then an angry one, then fixes on a smiling one.

「Are you the real Wilhelmina?」

「Indeed. I am Wilhelmina, otherwise I would not know your face or name.」

Her tone s.h.i.+fts to the next extreme, into an intimidating tone that an empress would use.

Erich looks at me in shock, but I turn away pretending like nothing happened.

「True, but you are not acting normal.」

「I have yet to be proficient, please allow it.」

I’m getting a bad feeling.

「Are you a human?」

「It is not appropriate. I cannot explain it to people.」

The soldiers point their swords at her.

I knew it. I thought so.

「What are you……are you controlling Wilhelmina somehow?」

I pray that is the case. I hope something is manipulating Wilhelmina to move how it wants.

But Wilhelmina shakes her head.

「No, I have not taken over. I am not a parasite either. Wilhelmina is who I am.」

Her tone and facial expression gradually match and become less unnatural.

I prepare myself mentally and get to the point.

「How did you become Wilhelmina?」

The awkwardness of her smile and gentle tone is gone.

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「I――ate her insides.」

In that opening, the monster circles around to my flank.

For a split second, the monster seemed to grin at me.

And then its stomach breaks from the inside and a tentacle shoots out at my side.

「You think you’ve won?」

I throw the Dual Crater at the monster.

It isn’t on course to hit its main body, but it cuts through the tentacle and stops moving.

The brief chance created grants me time to pick up the Keravnos at my feet and plunge it into the center of the monster’s chest.

I carry my momentum forward after the spearhead penetrates the insect’s body and stick it to the wall like an insect specimen.

「He did it!」

「Is it dead!?」

Erich and Irijina exclaim while fighting the spiders.

My eyes meet with the monster’s eyes.

Its compound eyes appear to warp.

「You think you’ve won?」

A second set of jaws protrude from between its mandibles and hits my forehead.

It moved faster than its flying speed and the speed of the tentacles.

I promptly stepped backwards, but the force of the blow was strong enough that I felt my reinforced headband crack.

If I didn’t step back, my head would have split open.

I stumble and even the figure of the monster becomes blurry.

Then it happened when I started thinking I was in trouble and was about to exert strength into my legs to steady myself.

「Just lie down.」

I obey Sekrit’s voice and allow gravity to pull me to the ground face-first.

The sound of cannonfire ingrained in my ears is followed by the wet sound of iron digging into flesh, and then Sekrit curses as she dislocates her shoulder.

The monster, hit in the center of its torso by a cannonball fired from Sekrit’s prosthetic arm, writhes in pain with a giant hole in its stomach.

I slap my wobbly leg and stand up.

My Keravnos remains stabbed inside that thing’s body.

「Kyuuun!」

Something squeals at my feet.

Looking down, I see the fox from before holding the Dual Crater in its mouth.

「Good job! If you’re a female, I’ll embrace you later.」

I place the frozen fox down and grip my Dual Crater.

The monster lets out an inhuman scream.

Its voice attracts three one-meter long bees from the hole in the ceiling that launch their stingers at me.

Is my slash faster or the stingers faster……it’s definitely their stingers.

But my vision is shaky from the last attack.

If I fail to evade and collapse, I won’t be able to stand afterward.

I can only swing my Dual Crater, praying that I don’t get hit somewhere that will cause instant death.

As the whoosh of wind gets closer, I hear two metal clanks and one dull thud……I don’t feel any pain.

When I turn around, I see Erich standing behind me, having blocked the three stingers with his sword, s.h.i.+eld and his own shoulder.

「What are you waiting for? Go, Aegir!」

You don’t need to tell me twice.

I swing the Dual Crater down with all my might.

The monster uses both its arms, newly grown tentacles from its back, and a sickle from its side to try and block my attack.

「Bye, Wilhelmina.」

My farewell was directed not at the monster, but at Wilhelmina’s body.

The Dual Crater cuts through all of the defenses and finally lops off the monster’s head.

Red blood squirts out as the head spins around in midair.

As the head dances, the protruding jaw retracts, its compound eyes close shut, and the face turns into that of Wilhelmina’s with blood trickling down the corner of its mouth before falling with a plop onto the carpet.

The now-headless body spasms as it walks aimlessly, then also falls, causing several insects from within to scatter.

Immediately, the movements of the other insects become chaotic.

Without its leader, the bugs go crazy, crawl around randomly and a portion of them even start feeding on each other.

I keep my dizzy head stable as I stand up.

Erich gives out instructions while Dingus helps extract the stinger from his shoulder.

「Kill every single bug, large or small. Pour oil on the floor, walls, and ceiling and fill the place with gunpowder. Set it on fire as you leave and burn everything to the ground.」

That’s the right decision. For a place infested with insects……especially ones that can take over a person’s mind, there is no other choice.

Wilhelmina lies at my feet……is it even appropriate to call it that?

In any case, I pick up her head and hold it in my hands.

Her face is still beautiful in death.

At the very least, a jaw won’t pop out and tentacles won’t grow from her head.

「How should we report this to His Majesty?」

Erich groans as the stinger is removed and turns to me.

「The enemy empress was consumed and taken over by insects……it’s hard to believe unless you actually saw this battle. We can’t preserve this place for evidence either.」

I glance at Wilhelmina’s head and then wrap it with a cloth from my pocket.

「The empress of demons, Wilhelmina, used unknown magic to control wicked monsters. We cornered her in the underground cavern and finally defeated her. How does that sound?」

Wilhelmina is dead and South Yuguria has fallen.

Libatis, Vandolea, and Altair no longer exist.

Goldonia literally has control of the entire Central plains.

I stare up at the ceiling of the narrow bas.e.m.e.nt and hold the warm head under my arm.

「We won, huh? What a truly――――feeling.」

My legs feel weak and I drop to my knees.

「Aegir-sama!? Is it poison!?」

It’s becoming harder to hear what Celia is shouting.

I can’t even tell whether my condition is due to poison or a heavy blow to the head.

Erich similarly collapses, probably from blood loss or possibly poison as well.

It makes me smile how in sync we are.

I’m getting tired of moving my head so I lie down and simply look straight ahead.

The soldiers are poking at the pile of bodies behind the curtain.

What intelligent bugs. They must have been using them as preserved food.

All of the bodies are either dressed like ministers or high-ranking soldiers. What expensive food.

「This one is breathing! He’s just immobilized by the poison.」

「This maid is alive too! She’s desperately moving her mouth!」

I’m surprised there are survivors, but it’s good that we can save some women.

「This guy is also alive! He seems to have been hiding under the bodies. He doesn’t appear to be affected by poison. A crest of the Garland Empire on his collar?」

「Haa, haa……secret technique: corpse disguise……did you see my mental strength that helped me endure a week without eating or drinking!?」

The large man rises from the mountain of corpses shouting something.

My vision is getting hazy. I’ll just sleep for a bit.

「You……how dirty. How long are you going to cling to this world!?」

Sekrit smiles as the man grasps at her.

Irijina’s kick lands on the man’s crotch, which knocks him to the ground unconscious.

Almost at the same time, my world also fades to black.

Protagonist: Aegir Hardlett. 25 years old. Winter.

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. Mad Demon G.o.d. Secret Golden Lager.

Family:

Pipi (super erect nipples), Nonna (legal wife), Carla (concubine), Mel (concubine), Kuu (fatigued), Ruu (fatigued)

Leah (waiting for Celia), Melissa (concubine), Miti (concubine), Maria (concubine), Catherine (waiting on-site)

Gretel (concubine), Mireille (concubine), Casie (9.5 head figure), Rita (waiting on-site), Yoguri (new work)

Mother: Marceline (returning home), Daughters: Eldest – Stephanie (returning home), Second – Bridget (returning home), Youngest – Felicie (returning home), Sofia (returning home), Claudia (training), Clara (sigh), Adela (waiting on-site), Alice (pure white)

Celestina (reigning queen), Monica (mama attendant), Benel (coma), Dorothea (relief request)

Subordinates:

Celia (first aid, transport), Rafaella (fainted)

Myla (commander), Irijina (commander), Luna (commander of bow cavalry), Leopolt (staff officer), Tristan (staff officer), Yakov (reserve), Gido (recluse), Mack (combat engineer), Christoph (reserve), Guigue (reserve), Adolph (domestic affairs official), Sebastian (butler)

Marta (returning home), Sally (responsible for explaining), Maruru (returning home), Jim (desperate), Suzy (waiting for consolation money), Solana ( ), Altair (world crisis), Remia (seeking salvation)

Dingus (eastern army commander), Rinuga (command of refugee team)

Others:

Erich (frontline command)

Sekrit (???)

Natia (medical care), Felteris (orgy)

Piris (insane, house arrest), Baroness Rukino Escaote (preparation complete), Seika (unhappy)

Busco ( ), Gildress (astonished), Visitacion (confined home with child)

Non-humans:

Pochi (fatigued lizard), Yularen (eating virgins), Ijaris (intimidation), T-99 (headless)

Brynhildr (waiting on-site), Lammy (waiting in vain), Alraune (proliferating), Mirumi (returning)

Messerschmitt​ (fatigued), Tropical Smooth-scaled Monitor Lizard (!), Schwartz (demon erection)

————————————————————————————————

Battle Ended – Temporary Disbanding of the Army.

a.s.sets: -75 000 gold

s.e.xual Partners: 806

Children who have been born: 70 + 567

Current Location: Poron

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