Madan no Ou to Vanadis:Volume 01 Chapter6 - MTL
|This text is a machine translation (MTL).
Be warned that the degree of translation error may be higher than usual.
This page was created before the updated (July 19, 2015) MTL guidelines and has not been reviewed.
Chapter 6 - Awakening of the Magic Bullet
Tigre visited Elen's office a few days after they walked around the castle town. Lim sat next to Elen helping her process the documents.
“It's been a while. Do you have any business?”
Elen looked at him and spoke with a light tone. Tigre responded with a serious expression.
“I wish to see some of the documents you work on. Of course, I don't expect you to allow me to see them all, just the ones you can.”
Elen's bright red irises looked at him with surprise and interest.
“May I hear your reason?”
Lim looked up at Tigre and spoke in a tone as if she were interrogating him. Her expression showed she would not pardon an inappropriate reason.
Tigre scratched his head in embarrassment and answered honestly.
“When I return to Alsace, I thought I might be able to apply some of what I learn.”
He was embarrassed because his response truly was a simple one.
Chatting with Elen as they walked through the town had a strong impact on Tigre.
“Lim, help him. You still haven't thanked him for the stuffed animal. This should be just right.”
Apparently she was being teased for her embarrassing hobby. Lim narrowed her blue eyes in indignation.
“Where will you work? It would be great if you could do it here, since we won't have to worry about losing any documents, and it will make it easier to kill you if you do anything.”
“Do it in his room. I have a responsibility to manage these documents he can't see.”
After being told off coldly, Lim and Tigre held many documents and left the office.
Rurick, who was standing nearby, was asked to prepare a table and chair as the two walked down the corridor.
“Is it fine leaving her alone?”
“She will be fine. There hasn't been much time since the last assassin appeared, and Eleanora-sama always has a reason when moving about in secret.”
Lim answered without looking at Tigre.
“She goes to get alcohol, try out new dishes at her favorite restaurant, or clown around with minstrels once rumors appear in the Imperial Palace... No such talk has been found, so she will work diligently for a while.”
Rurick was made to help carry a table and chair to the crowded room.
“Thank you for your work, Rurick.”
Letting Rurick rest, Lim went across the table and sat face-to-face with Tigre.
“I have heard Alsace is a land filled with mountains and forests. Are you worried about flood control? Or perhaps field rights and irrigation? Or are you concerned about highway maintenance?”
“Since we are poor, I would like to avoid anything costly. It could take us five or ten years to save up.”
“I understand. Let's start there, then.”
For a moment, Tigre saw Lim smile. Though her face changed momentarily, it quickly returned to normal.
The documents, in a certain sense, were more difficult to read than history books since Tigre was still not good at reading the Zhcted language.
However, Tigre was surprised by how politely Lim taught him when he did not understand something. She was patient enough to help him until he understood.
Originally, they went through the documents at a slow pace. After one koku (approximately two hours), they had made their way through two-thirds of the pile. The two decided to take a break.
Lim called the maid for a drink.
“Thank you. I learned a lot.”
When Tigre thanked her, Lim shook her head.
“It is nothing spectacular. Though I have read these before, it allowed me to review things once again.”
Lim responded in a curt tone, then looked at Tigre in a hesitant manner. After finishing his drink, Tigre noticed her glancing at him, as if hesitating over what to say to him.
Lim, though hesitant, seemed to show expressions with an unusually amiable atmosphere.
“You – Do you believe you can return to Alsace?”
Tigre's expression froze. Silence filled the room. Her words were unforgiving.
Forty days had passed since Tigre was taken captive.
Fewer than ten remained.
If the ransom had been prepared, it would be time for a response letter to arrive.
However, there was no such report. She spoke as if Tigre had forgotten.
Eventually, Tigre laughed to break the silence.
“... Even if I consider the worst case scenario and the ransom has not been prepared, it would do me no good to become anxious.”
“I suppose that is true.”
“If I were distraught, it would be an insult to the people who worked hard for my sake.”
When he thought he might not see Titta again, he became anxious and lost sleep. Still, Tigre had faith in her.
At the very least, he wanted to give off that appearance. Though his feelings were a little different, it would be too embarrassing if he were to express his sentiments clearly.
“... I would say it is half anxiety, half vanity.”
He was easily seen through.
“However, I understand your feelings.”
Lim lowered her head to Tigre in apology, and the room became silent.
“We should complete our work soon, then.”
Putting her empty ceramic cup on the table, Lim smiled. Tigre was shocked to see such a soft expression. A moment later, Lim's face returned to its normally frozen expression.
It had become dark before they managed to work through the remaining documents.
“Thank you for the hard work.”
While bowing, Lim let out a deep breath. Tigre threw his body onto the bed and lay on his back.
Though he was the one to ask, he had read dozens of documents written in a foreign language. It was a difficult task.
“You may rest as you are. I will have Rurick bring you your dinner.”
“Thank you. You've saved me.”
Without returning a word, Lim left the room. After she closed the door, she let out a sigh.
“--- Did he work because he knows?”
Right now, an intense atmosphere has engulfed Brune.
The soldiers were ordered to not speak to Tigre of the situation in Brune, but such information could still leak.
“He has likely guessed it.”
After hesitating, Lim shook her head.
“Even if I tell him, he will only become uneasy...”
In the Kingdom of Brune, Mashas was busy trying to help Tigre.
However, no one offered to help. Everyone was concerned with securing their own safety.
Duke Thenardier had heard from an intimate aristocrat.
The story came about while many aristocrats were gathered at a pavilion, drinking and chatting together.
The Duke frowned, hearing about Dinant.
“It was an awful battle. Due to others' foolishness, even my child was subject to defeat.”
The Duke had become 42 years old. His large physique and stunning black beard was wrapped in luxurious silk clothing. In his thirties, the kingdom sponsored him to join in battle. He always earned remarkable military services in battles against Zhcted.
His talent was also shown in the courts. Due to his skill, he was able to acquire a power which could silence even the King.
There was a difference between confidence and arrogance. There was no fear in his eyes.
Still, confidence becomes overconfidence, which often leads to cruelty. Though he continued such actions, no one stopped him.
“What happened in Dinant?”
“A young aristocrat, Earl Vorn, was made captive by the enemy's General, the Vanadis...”
“How deplorable. Instead of suicide, he settled for such a pathetic thing. He also left his companions alone. It is because of such people that we were defeated.”
After relentlessly abusing him verbally, the Duke nodded and continued his words.
“If I recall, that boy's only skill was with the bow. He was likely captured after throwing his bow aside and running away. If it was my child, he would fight bravely until his sword or spear shattered.”
The aristocrat, who was a guest, needed to lessen the Duke's anger lest he snap.
--- Even the Duke was a parent. He had learned of the abomination of Dinant from his son. What kind of face did he have at the time?
Zion, the son of Duke Thenardier, ran away, leaving those to his left and right behind, the moment he heard of the supreme commander, the Prince, dying on the battlefield.
Though the Duke did not know about it, the aristocrat did not wish to tell him. Although his anger was without reason, it was not particularly harmful.
“Lord Mashas, who is intimate with Earl Vorn, seems to be preparing a ransom for him. What shall we do, Duke?”
“He wishes to ask me? Does he expect me to help this shameless action?”
The Duke's thick hands shook as the aristocrat continued speaking.
“Think about it. Even an aristocrat who is beyond your help may be useful, your excellency. Your mercy may become effective in fighting Sir Ganelon.”
The war between Duke Thenardier and Duke Ganelon was unavoidable.
It was recognized by the domestic aristocrats. The citizens thought so as well.
Thenardier's wife was the King's niece. The husband of Ganelon's elder sister was the King's nephew.
Since Ganelon was connected through the King's elder sister, he was farther from power. The rights to the throne in Brune gave priority to men, as is typically the case.
The present King had neither brother nor child, only a niece and a nephew. Neither would compromise on the position of who would ascend to the throne.
“Will you answer their terms before Duke Ganelon... It may act as a catalyst for those who still waver.”
Contact with the Duke, whether as an ally or not, was desirable.
However, the Duke refused.
“Though it is not a bad plan, I will not do such a thing for a coward.”
After the guests left, the Duke called a servant after a sudden thought.
“Prepare a map.”
Looking at the map brought by the servant, he confirmed the location of Alsace.
“So this is his land.”
A sigh of disappointment leaked from the Duke.
Alsace was not only distant from the center of the kingdom but small. The majority of the land was mountains or forests. It was said there was not much there, and it was difficult to catch anything.
“However... It is in contact with the Zhcted border. That cannot be overlooked.”
After thinking for a while, the Duke called for his son.
“You called for me, Father?”
Zion appeared before his father. He was a young noble with an appropriate appearance and garb.
“I wish for you to do something.”
The Duke beckoned to his son and pointed at a place on the map.
“Do you know of Alsace? Take three thousand soldiers with you and burn it to the ground.”
Zion frowned. He was not surprised by his father's cruel instruction. He thought of the trouble, remembering it was a distant land under Tigre's care.
“I will not refuse your instructions, Father, but may I hear the reason?”
The Duke first told the story he heard from the aristocrat.
“The Lord of Alsace is absent. Though the land is hardly worth taking, I would rather Ganelon not plunder it. It would be even more troublesome if Zhcted took control.”
“Indeed. However, to send three thousand troops to such a small land, isn't that too much?”
“Though there is nothing there, the people may be very territorial. Kill all who resist, capture and take all you can carry. We can sell the objects and people to Muozinel. Any good looking women, you can give to the soldiers.”
Zion was delighted to hear his father's words.
“Thank you, Father. This will help with soldier morale as well. I suppose it will be unnecessary to gather the Knights then.”
“No, take at least one thousand Knights. Pass through the lands of other nobles and display your strength. Show them House Thenardier.”
“As you wish. By the way...”
Zion lowered his voice, now speaking as father and son.
“What of His Majesty, the King?”
“He is in his room as usual. He is mentally and physically weak from what I hear. It is doubtful he will live for even another month. With the Prince out of the way, it will be a good thing if he dies.”
Hearing the Duke gloat, Zion's eyes looked fearful.
… There was a rumor that his father and Duke Ganelon had cooperated to murder His Highness, the Prince...
He oppressed the people of his territory. Though Zion thought of it as simply crushing insects, he still held respect for the King and Prince as a vassal of the Royal Family.
He looked on in fear and awe at his father who easily overstepped the boundary.
--- So the rumor was true.
Thinking about it, though, he had no reason to disobey.
He bowed his head. After preparing his troops, he set out for Alsace.
A voice came from behind Zion as he left his father's room and was walking down a corridor. Turning around, he noticed an elder man wearing a black robe.
Zion frowned in disgust.
“What is it, Drekavac?”
Drekavac was the old man who stooped forward.
“It seems you are going to battle, Zion-sama. I will give you a present.”
“A present? You'll give one to me?”
Zion's grimace became more severe.
This elderly man was a soothsayer who served the Thenardier family for many years.
However, Zion had never once liked Drekavac. Rather, he hated him enough to kill him. He wanted to discard the man rather than spend the money on him.
He had not done so, though, because the man had been appointed by his father.
Zion could do nothing when it came to his father's men, but he avoided seeing Drekavac as much as possible.
“Please, come this way.”
Drekavac turned his head back and began walking. Zion reluctantly followed.
They left the hall and headed toward the stables.
As they approached the stable filled with the hated smell of animals, Zion tried to yell out negligently. Drekavac, however, took a detour to the back.
Drekavac lifted a cloth with his hand. Underneath were the heads of Dragons.
One was an SuroEarth Dragon and one was a VyfalWyvern, both eighty chet (approximately eight meters) in height. They boasted huge bodies with short, stocky limbs and strong scales covering their entire body, protecting them from sword and spear. A Dragon could quickly rush with enough force to destroy a wall and had strength and vitality.
The Wyvern's huge wings could be used to let a human fly. Though its scales were hard, they were not as strong as the Earth Dragon's.
Zion was overwhelmed, since it was the first time he had ever seen a Dragon. He thought their existence was a myth or a fairy tale. It was beyond his knowledge.
“Their training is almost complete. Even if you released them on the battlefield today, they would work splendidly.”
“Is, is it really okay?”
“Of course. You can touch them if you wish.”
Though hesitant, Zion was curious, seeing a Dragon for the first time. His obstinacy won over his fear. He carefully stepped toward the Wyvern.
Though the Wyvern bowed abruptly, as if it was shy, it remained still when his palm touched it.
Zion took a deep breath, feeling the rough scales.
“... I hope it is to your liking.”
“Yes. Well done, Drekavac. I'll ride this Wyvern!”
His poor mood from a while ago was completely blown away. Zion gave words of appreciation to the old man.
Where did he catch the Dragons? How were they trained? He did not think of it at all.
“... There is only one thing you must be wary of.”
“The Dragon has not become accustomed to the scent of human residences. Please, do not bring it into the city.”
Though Zion frowned, he recalled the story that Dragons lived in uninhabited recesses in mountains and disliked the smell of man. Though he did not know if it were true, he felt it reasonable.
--- Well, I won't be entering any towns. It will be intimidating enough to simply walk with it visible.
Zion's heart throbbed, imagining such a spectacle.
Only two days remained until the ransom deadline.
--- Is it impossible?
Tigre lay in bed and rolled around, staring at the darkness. He had woken up in the middle of the night. The first time this happened was a few nights ago.
Sleeping soundly until midday did not change. Though he tried not to worry, he could not change the condition of his body.
“Like I thought... I'm afraid.”
It was the fate of his future. He may be thrown into a situation he would not survive.
A knock was heard on the door. It was small enough such that he would not notice had he been asleep.
“At this time...?”
He was wary, since he was not allowed to keep even a knife. Tigre opened the door while tightening his grip on his bow.
“Oh, you came.”
Rurick stood before him, holding a candlestick. The small flame flicked. It was difficult to see anything beyond Rurick.
Seeing him act differently, Tigre quieted his voice.
Rurick whispered an explanation.
“Lord Tigrevurmud, there is a person who wishes to meet you. Can you follow me? Try to make as little noise as possible.”
In the pitch dark passage of the night, the two carefully walked. It seems they were moving so as not to alert the other soldiers, since they advanced through passages different from the norm.
Tigre arrived at the training area.
One elderly person sat enclosed by several soldiers. His face, lit by a soldier's torch, was well known to Tigre.
Nearly letting out his voice, Tigre rushed to Bertrand, ignoring the soldiers, and took his hand.
“Young Lord! Young Lord! You are safe and sound!”
“You, too, thank goodness! Really, thank goodness! Did Lord Mashas survive? What of Titta? And Alsace?”
While tightly grasping the old man's hands, tears fell from his eyes. Tigre cried from the bottom of his heart. The surrounding soldiers were surprised, impatient, and panicked.
“Tigre-san, your voice, your voice.”
“Ah, Ah, sorry.”
After being scolded, Tigre apologized, since he intended to keep his voice down.
Tigre noticed the soldiers at last and saw them associating frankly.
“Thank goodness. You're all acquainted.”
Rurick, having caught up, smiled in relief.
“This elderly man unexpectedly sneaked into the Imperial Palace. Since he spoke with the accent of Brune, he was captured. When I brought up Lord Tigrevurmud's name by chance, he persisted that we introduce you to him.”
“Fate was kind.”
One of the soldiers shrugged his shoulders.
“It was good that those who dislike you did not catch him. They probably would have injured him without asking any questions.”
“Even if there was no one so extreme, so long as Limlisha was not informed, he would be imprisoned without meeting you.”
“Everyone, thank you.”
Tigre wiped the tears from his eyes as he thanked the soldiers.
“Please don't worry. It's not like we can figure what to do from now on, either.”
One of the soldiers made a difficult face.
“We will have to report that an old man came to help you escape and arrest him. Also, you will need to return to your room obediently.”
Though they had a friendship with Tigre, they still served Elen. There was a limit to what they could do.
“I'm sorry if this ends with you being scolded.”
“I understand. Bertrand, I want to hear what's going on...”
Tigre wanted to confirm Titta's safety. He asked Bertrand, who was shedding tears.
“Young Lord, three thousand troops belonging to Duke Thenardier are advancing toward Alsace...”
“... What do you mean?”
Tigre was confused. He could not understand.
Certainly, he did not get along with Zion or Duke Thenardier, but the soldiers would not be moved on emotion alone. The King would not permit such an action.
Alsace was not even adjacent to Duke Thenardier's territory. It was between the lands of other aristocrats.
Influential nobles passed over his home.
“I do not know how to tell you...”
Using his withered arms to wipe his tears, Bertrand took a deep breath as he took a letter from his breast pocket.
“This is a letter from Lord Mashas. Actually, he has provided a map and a horse...”
Tigre took the letter and quickly read it after impatiently cutting the seal. There was first an apology for being unable to prepare the ransom. Alsace was peaceful for the time being. Also, it was written that Titta went to the temple to pray every night.
Though Tigre was moved to tears, his body went hot with anger after reading the following sentence. Duke Thenardier dispatched three thousand soldiers to burn Alsace and would sell the people he captured to Muozinel.
In addition, Duke Ganelon knew about it and was trying to move his soldiers ahead of time.
He would do his best to suppress Ganelon, so he wanted Tigre to escape from Zhcted in any way he could.
“They're doing whatever the hell they want...!”
By the time he noticed, Tigre had crushed the letter in his hand.
His overflowing anger could not be suppressed as he clenched his teeth.
Mutters leaked from the soldiers surrounding Bertrand and Tigre. They were showing their grief and mourning; it was a failure in their behavior. They had unexpectedly become too kind to Tigre.
The soldiers exchanged glances, trying to push the unpleasant role on another person. Rurick advanced as he spoke.
“Though I sympathize with your feelings, I implore you, please return to your room.”
“It is poor of me, but I cannot comply.”
Placing the letter into his clothes, Tigre stood up and walked toward the castle gate, He was surrounded within five steps.
Rurick stared at Tigre, his tone now stronger.
“I do not wish to be rough. No, you are to have the death penalty if you approach the rampart. I will be forced to tell Vanadis-sama.”
“I understand, but I will still leave.”
Though his voice was quiet, it was terrible and daunting to those who heard.
Rurick was accustomed to war. He was far from timid, being a veteran.
Still, hearing Tigre's voice and glance, he was overwhelmed by his fighting spirit. Due to the thirst for blood Tigre released, he could only move away.
Extending his hand, Tigre walked forward, thrusting Rurick aside.
“It's quite noisy...”
Hearing a bright voice, Tigre stopped his feet.
“Where are you going so late at night?”
Folding her arms, Elen stood at the castle gate, her silver-white hair bathed in the moonlight. It shined and scattered, like fine particles.
Seeing their Lord, Rurick and the other soldiers bent to their knees. Respect, fear, and anxiety engrossed them.
Though the Vanadis was known to be tolerant, she was by no means sweet.
“I believe I said you are not to approach the rampart.”
Though it was midnight, Elen was dressed in a dark blue, long-sleeved shirt and skirt. Her sword was at her waist.
“So you noticed.”
She would not be sleeping in those clothes, and she would not have the time to show up after getting dressed.
“I could also come out in the clothes I sleep in, but would you be able to recognize me?”
Tigre did not associate with her familiar, teasing tone.
“Please, let me pass. I must return to Alsace.”
“Did you forget your position? Tell me your reason for the time being.”
Though the time it would take to explain was regrettable, Tigre spoke the content of the letter sent by Mashas.
“Do you have any evidence to guarantee its certainty?”
“None. Though... if it is Thenardier, it is likely to happen.”
Please. Tigre was pleading in desperation.
“It will be too late once my home has been burned. Please let me leave. I will return for sure.”
Elen had not responded. She looked down, as if thinking about something. A mysterious light could be seen in her bright red eyes, as if praising Tigre.
“If you go to Alsace, what will you do?”
“I will defend my people.”
Tigre answered in irritation, not understanding the meaning behind Elen's question.
He found himself at a loss for words.
“I know your skills with the bow, however, you are not an immortal hero. Can you do this alone? You may be confident in your skill, but you would be a fool to think you could fight three thousand alone.”
“I know that.”
“Even if you understand, you will go?”
“However, what... what else can I do!”
“Such a haphazard man. Do you really think you can do anything once you get there?”
Even if he shouted, he was cut short immediately.
Elen sighed, seeing him and placed her hand on the Silver Flash at her waist.
“--- Escape calls for capital punishment. Are you tired of living? If you are heading to your death in Alsace, it might be better to end your life here in Leitmeritz.”
Unsheathing the blade, she pointed its tip to Tigre with a straight arm.
“So you... will not let me pass.”
Tigre glared at Elen in resentment. He was behaving like a spoiled child, unable to bring forth better words.
He understood. He understands why Elen was doing what she was.
“Why don't you understand me?”
Her tone had unexpectedly changed. Elen continued to scold him.
“Why are you not using the wisdom you had in Dinant when you improved your chances, even in such a situation? Why do you move on your emotions now?”
“What are you saying...”
Though Tigre was confused by Elen's words, he stared at her bright red irises and swallowed his words. He had not considered it... Right now, what could he do?
Tigre would die by Elen's sword if he could not answer.
He had a bow in his hand, but no arrow.
What he wanted to do. What he should do.
The sword reflected light and shined. Tigre could not help but glance at it. Suddenly, a question sprang to his mind.
--- Why has Elen not felled me in this situation? Why has she not ordered Rurick to capture me?
She understood the ransom could no longer be paid at this time.
Though Elen was not obsessed with money, she made a clear distinction, saying she would sell him to Muozinel.
She no longer needed to say anything.
… It could be.
Tigre arrived at an answer.
Elen was trying to employ him in the most efficient way possible.
She was giving him the chance.
Will you serve me?
Elen asked that of Tigre before.
It might still be valid.
--- This is my only opportunity.
If he made a mistake, Elen would forsake him.
He took a small breath then let it out. Tigre calmed his breathing to settle down.
Is this the same as when I faced her in Dinant? My body is tense, and my knees are trembling.
“... I have a request.”
Tigre bowed to Elen.
“Please, lend me your soldiers.”
On his knees, Rurick's breath stopped momentarily.
--- Amongst the soldiers, he was his best friend...!
As a captive, it was unprecedented that he ask to be loaned the soldiers.
“Ha... Haha! Ahahaha!”
Elen's eyes opened wide. Though Tigre watched the face full of amazement, her body was bent over, bursting in laughter.
To say nothing of Tigre, even the soldiers had never seen Elen laugh like this.
“Really... somehow, your impudence is refreshing.”
Though Elen laughed for more than a minute, once it ended, she wiped the tears in the corner of her eyes as she looked at Tigre.
He wondered what he said would make her so happy. Even the breeze seemed to sway happily.
“You want me to lend them to you, but I'm not that nice. Naturally, I can't do it for free.”
“What do you want?”
“All of Alsace.”
“... So long as you govern it in the same manner as Leitmeritz.”
Though he thought it needless to say, it was a necessary promise to defend the people within his territory.
“I can't govern it exactly the same, but I'll keep that in mind.”
Elen asked him with her glance. Tigre nodded his head in assent.
“Then, let's go!”
Elen sheathed the Silver Flash and turned to the Palace. Lim stood beside her with a spear. With excitement in her voice, Elen shouted an order.
“Lim, this is war! Grab the ZirnitraBlack Dragon Flag.”
Under Elen's command, one thousand soldiers would head to Alsace.
Though only one-third the number of enemy, there were many circumstances.
First, she gave priority to speed.
A large army's movements were dull.
It also took time to prepare the weapons and food needed to feed the soldiers. It was also necessary to pass through the path in the Vosyes Mountains.
But the number could not be too small, or else they could not fight.
Due to these factors, one thousand troops were deemed necessary.
It was composed almost entirely of cavalry. As for the horses, three times the number was prepared.
A large amount of substitution horses were prepared so as to increase the marching distance.
“I was surprised.”
In Elen's private room, Lim helped put on her armor, expressing her surprise with an indifferent expression.
“I never thought he would ask you to lend him the soldiers.”
“Your expectations were not met, either.”
Elen responded happily.
Lim promptly noticed Bertrand sneaking into the Imperial Palace, as well as his capture by the soldiers.
She guessed they would allow Tigre and Bertrand to meet. Lim reported to Elen, saying he likely came to free Tigre. Elen quickly changed clothes and moved to the castle gate.
At that time, Lim and Elen made a bet.
Elen would show up at the castle gate and would not allow Tigre to escape.
What would Tigre say when cornered, what actions would he take?
Lim thought Tigre would challenge Elen with the bow. If he won, he would escape.
Elen felt Tigre would recall their conversation and thought he would ask to be her subordinate. In doing so, his territory would become hers, and Elen would use her soldiers to defend it.
If he tried to force his way through or escape in any other way, she would cut him down.
“Well, the answer was closer to my idea, so it's closer to being my win, Lim.”
“No. If your words had not led him to his decision, you would have lost, Eleanora-sama.”
“I asked a simple question. I did not guide him.”
“If you act as normal, Eleanora-sama, you would force him using any means possible.”
“I'm not that violent.”
“Have you forgotten what you said in Dinant?”
Though Elen was heated up, Lim countered gently. Now there was only silence.
Before long, Elen finished donning her armor. The gauntlets, greaves, and breastplates emphasized lightness and ease of movement. There was no helmet.
Lim wore a different armor, her body was encased in a hardened shell. Elen was a Vanadis, and she held the argent blade. Lim would never go to the battlefield with such an appearance.
A knock sounded at the door. When Lim opened the door, Tigre stood before her.
“Are you finished?”
Inviting him inside, Lim responded to Tigre's question.
Having jumped into Tigre's view was Elen's appearance as she donned a cloak, providing a blue background to contrast her armor. She stood proudly with her hands on her hips.
“Look until you're satisfied. You won't have time on the battlefield.”
She spoke proudly like a child. Though Tigre expected her to speak words like a princess, he minded his manners while thinking of Elen.
“Have you completed your preparations?”
“It is as you can see.”
Tigre wore leather gauntlets and armor. His shin guards and mantle were also made of leather.
With bow in hand and a quiver at his waist, he was armed as he was when taken prisoner from Dinant.
“Your collar is bent.”
“Right. And your hair, it is better to comb it down a little.”
“You can use my comb, Lim.”
Elen's hand extended and touched the scruff of Tigre's neck. Lim touched Tigre's hair. Urged from the right and left by the two and unable to let out his bewilderment, Tigre stood straight, maintaining his appearance as much as possible while being groomed.
When they finished, the two gazed at Tigre.
“Your armor is leather... Though embezzled, it's faded and looks solid. Though it is not bad for battle, as one leading the army...”
“Well, there is no time, since we did not see this coming.”
The two pat Tigre's body here and there.
Though he understood they had no ulterior motive, Tigre felt a strange excitement and tension. He desperately maintained his presence of mind.
Even his breathing had stopped, and he remained still like a statue. So as not to cause a strange reaction with his body, he continued to recite the names of Gods in his mind. Certainly the Gods whose name he recited were annoyed by it.
At last, parting from Tigre, Elen turned about and walked out to the hallway. Lim followed after Elen. Tigre, in a panic, hastily pursued the two.
“With fewer than half the enemy, can you win?”
“It is possible.”
Hearing Lim's words, Elen responded as if it were nothing.
“First, we have the geographical advantage.”
Seeing the Vanadis glance at him from the side, Tigre began explaining.
“Though it's true we have an advantage in terms of geography, people following Duke Thenardier have visited Alsace in the past. It has been a few years since then, but it is possible they have marked the area down. Still, I can draw a map, and if we return to my residence, there is an even more elaborate map drawn by my grandfather.”
“I see, they think of Alsace as a kind of resort. They won't expect resistance.”
Hearing Tigre's words, Elen responded happily.
“I have heard Ganelon is at odds with Thenardier. Thenardier can't spare too many forces to attack Alsace. That should give us a good opportunity.”
Seeing her bright red irises filled with a will to fight, Tigre looked at Elen once again.
The armor Elen wore was beautiful in itself.
However, it was not perfect.
With the light in her eyes, she was complete as a Vanadis.
This Goddess of War was beautiful and dignified – an embodiment of something mythical. He looked on in admiration of her beauty. Tigre stared at the Vanadis with silver-white hair without speaking.
“Instead of simply admiring me, why not put it into words, like saying how beautiful I am.”
Elen teased him as always.
“That was the thought that appeared in my mind when I first set eyes on you in Dinant.”
Contrary to the affection in his words, he spoke frankly without being smug.
“... Is, is that so.”
When he said that, Elen's blue mantle quickly fluttered as she quickly turned around, hiding her face which had turned red from the unexpected words.
There were few people along the way to Celesta in the middle of summer.
To escape from the Thenardier Army, the people fled to the mountains and forests in the suburbs.
The soldiers who received instruction from Mashas were guided by the maid, Titta.
“Those who are sturdy, go to the mountains or the forests in the outskirts. For the elderly and children, please take refuge in the shrine.”
This was written in the letter sent by Mashas.
“He is a man of Brune, so he cannot attack a shrine. Even should Thenardier be a man who does not fear God, if he attacks a shrine, the temples will align themselves with Ganelon. Thenardier will definitely not interfere with them.”
The soldiers moved in accordance to his instructions.
Tigre, the Lord of Alsace, was absent. The village chiefs and various influential people of the town were at a loss as to what to do, so they were thankful for Mashas' guidance.
“Titta, will you take shelter outside of town?”
“I will remain in the mansion.”
After seeing the people to the shelter, Titta responded to the soldier's question.
“Tigre-sama will surely return. When he does, I do not wish the residence to be uninhabited. I wish to be the first to receive him.”
Though the soldier tried to think of words to persuade her, he gave up.
Many people had taken shelter. Titta, every time she was asked, responded in the same way. She only wished to wait for Tigre.
“I understand; however, tell me at any time if you wish to escape.”
“Thank you very much.”
Titta bowed with a smile, her chestnut-brown twin tails shaking with her action. She then returned to the mansion.
The reason she gave to the soldier was not a lie.
However, she had another reason she could not easily explain.
If she left the mansion, Tigre may not return.
Though it was not so well-grounded, Titta felt a vague insecurity.
--- It's fine. Bertrand will certainly return with Tigre-sama. I only need to wait in the mansion for Tigre-sama. I hope he returns soon...
Despite her anxiety, she continued to hope. Embracing the black bow, the heirloom of his family, Titta prayed Tigre would return safe and sound.
--- I do not wish to evacuate.
Mashas' letter gave the number of days available to evacuate the people before Thenardier's Army appeared, but she did not seem to think about it.
The biggest reason was the absence of the Lord, Tigre, though another reason existed.
The people who lived in Alsace originally had a poor sense of crisis when it came to war. This was even more so since the land had only small towns and villages.
Highways did not pass through Alsace; mountains and forests were everywhere.
It was disadvantageous for the movement or deployment of large armies. Other regions would not aim for Alsace, so there was little reason for military forces to pass through. Except for soldiers, none were familiar with war.
Furthermore, they did not know of Thenardier's cruelty.
The aristocrats of Alsace, Tigre and Urz, were on intimate terms with Mashas, and the aristocrats governing the adjoining territories were all affable.
They did not seriously consider the situation with the Thenardier Army.
--- If Tigre-sama returns...
Titta went to his bed, desperately holding back her urge to cry.
Given the number of days since Bertrand left Celesta, he should have returned.
--- Is it impossible? Will Tigre-sama not return?
Tigre did not return that day either.
The Thenardier Army, led by Zion, was moving on foot and would reach Alsace in two days.
Zion advanced before his three thousand strong army with a grand attitude atop the VyfalWyvern.
Once, he tried flying in the sky with the Wyvern, but gave up due to the cold winds cutting into him. It was also faster than expected, so he had the Wyvern walk.
--- Flying across the sky with a Wyvern is unexpectedly difficult. The sensation is too different from a horse, so I'll practice once I return from my duty.
Behind the Wyvern was an SuroEarth Dragon. The pressure exuded by its massive size and strength gave fear to the soldiers. They kept as much distance as possible while marching.
Though Zion had passed through the territory of two or three nobles, he had not encountered any interference.
Everyone feared the house of Thenardier.
Zion felt comfortable.
“As soon as we burn Alsace, we'll send the hostages ahead and stop by these regions. It might be good to have them pledge loyalty, and we can grab their wives and daughters...”
His father might be pleased as well, since his battle with Ganelon would follow soon after.
Zion thought of such things cheerfully when a scout returned to report.
“The residents have taken shelter?”
“It seems the majority have fled to the forests and mountains.”
“They have barricaded themselves within the temple. We cannot interfere.”
Zion's teeth were seen.
“Very well. Let's leave the villages for now and head for Celesta first.”
“No, that's fine. We'll continue to Celesta as we are.”
Zion shook his head hearing his subordinate's proposal.
“Certainly, we can't destroy the temple, but we can destroy everything else. We just have to burn it all. The people will give up and leave the temple for sure.”
Zion smiled when another subordinate appeared to report.
“Someone has arrived, claiming to be a man from Celesta who wishes to act as your eyes, Zion-sama.”
“What kind of person is he?”
“He has two names. The old man seems reasonably influential as well.”
Zion, having been told bluntly, lost interest.
“Kill him. Throw his corpse in the town.”
The man with two names was the first victim from Alsace.
The wall enclosing Celesta was not too high or thick. Attacking it would not require siege weapons.
It would not take much time to destroy it.
The castle gate could be broken using an axe or a spear. Zion remembered Drekavac's words regarding the SuroEarth Dragon's ability to break through walls just by charging.
“Surround the temple. We will raise our voices and tire them mentally and physically. Not only will we deprive them of their freedom, we will burn their home.”
Zion spoke loudly, and the soldiers' chests swelled with expectation.
“However, it is important not to kill or destroy too much. Treat the women with courtesy, and punish the rest.”
This was not a fight but a pillage.
He gave approval to the soldiers to release their rage and brutality.
They would break into houses, take the money and possessions, then set fire to the building.
Those who ran and screamed, trying to escape, would be assaulted. Those who resisted would be pierced with a spear. Their blood painted the earth.
The wreckage and rubble of buildings and stalls were scattered, the gardens and vineyards were mercilessly trampled. With a sword in the right hand and a bottle, stolen from somewhere, in the left, the soldiers staggered about town, intoxicated on alcohol and destruction.
Laughter reminiscent of a barbarian was mixed in with the sounds. Black smoke streaked the sky.
Though the dead numbered few, this was due to Zion's strict orders. The elderly who were not considered worthwhile were mercilessly slaughtered.
“Hm, this village is so tiny, it was easy to demolish.”
Zion was away from the army with the Dragons and horses, watching calmly. The sight of people begging and trying to escape filled Zion's heart.
Zion stepped onto the street and pulled his horse up to a building. It was a large estate in comparison to the surrounding houses. Given its size and location, it belonged to the Lord.
“So this is Vorn's house. It's such a shabby structure for an aristocrat's manor. I'll have a look inside before I set fire to it.”
Zion dismounted his horse and entered the mansion with the intent to ridicule it.
Titta was in the mansion.
When the Thenardier Army appeared outside of town, Titta wished to face them as Tigre's representative. She was stopped by others, though, and remained in the mansion. Three thousand troops quietly flooded in like a sea of silver. After a time, those who went forth as representatives were returned as corpses.
Now, they were burning, looting, and destroying the town.
From the first floor of the house, Titta watched the devastation with a bitter expression.
She could not do anything, her body remained still from shock, sadness, and fear.
She felt powerless; tears spilled from Titta's eyes.
The door was loudly opened. Titta returned to her senses.
--- The first floor? Did someone come in?
Her body stiffened. She knew someone had entered.
--- Tigre-sama, please give me courage.
Titta moved into the hallway, tightly hugging the black bow. She descended the stairs to the first floor.
A young man stood in the hall, looking at the candlestick in the corner. He kicked it over while laughing, the sound resounding through the mansion.
Her voice trembled.
The young man – Zion Thenardier – turned around slowly.
His two eyes looked over Titta's body, as if licking it. Titta shuddered from the ill feeling.
“What a good looking girl. If you bow down to me, I might even hold you.”
“... Please leave.”
Titta squeezed those words out of her mouth.
Zion looked doubtful and laughed as he brought a hand to his ear.
“Did I hear you wrong? Is Vorn's maid really that stupid? Please, say it again.”
“... Get out.”
“I told you to go away!”
With a red face, Titta shouted at Zion.
“This house, this town, Tigre-sama's possessions, do not lay a finger on them! Get out!”
“... You would say that to the son of House Thenardier.”
Zion pulled out the sword at his waist.
“Abusive language has a heavy crime. Looks like I'll have to teach you the hard way.”
Titta's eyes opened widely as she breathed in deeply. She retreated, one step, two steps.
Zion held back his laughter in his throat.
The glittering sword drew an arc. Titta's skirt was greatly torn, her pure-white thighs, nearly showing their base, were bare to see.
“What is it? If you don't hurry and run, I'll cut your leg next.”
Titta turned her back on Zion and ran up the stairs. Zion followed after her with a cruel smile, as if hunting prey, moving up the steps slowly.
Titta returned to the second floor and ran straight to Tigre's room. She closed the door, and, with a trembling hand, bolted it, though she failed many times.
--- What do I do? What do I do now...
Even with the door bolted, she did not feel easy. He would arrive at the room soon, and there was nothing to block the door. Titta looked about the room with a fearful expression.
When Titta's eyes saw Tigre's desk, she ran up to it.
“If I remember, there was a knife Tigre-sama used...”
She wildly opened the drawer and found a knife.
Gripping the handle, Titta exhaled in relief, noticing again that one arm was embracing his bow.
She looked around the room and, after hesitating a moment, ran to the semi-circular balcony.
Though it was noisy beneath the balcony, she could not look below. The sound of something breaking could be heard behind her.
When she turned around, she noticed Zion had used his sword to create a hole. After breaking through the bolt, he kicked the door down, standing with a distorted smile.
“We're done already?”
Titta grasped the knife in both her hands, pointing it toward Zion who continued to laugh scornfully. She attacked him in desperation. Zion stepped into the room and brandished his sword.
He knocked the knife away in an unsatisfying manner. A red line ran across Titta's chest. She stepped backward until she was cornered at the balcony.
She leaned back while gripping the black bow. Her face was dyed red in anger and embarrassment. Tears floated to her eyes as she embraced the bow while hiding her chest. The wind shook her chestnut-brown hair.
“What's this, a lowly maid who doesn't understands her position and holds feelings for her master?”
Zion calmly pointed his sword at Titta as he muttered an insult.
“Vorn will definitely be sold off to Muozinel. I'll do the same to you. Maybe you'll be lucky and meet him.”
“No, Tigre-sama... Tigre-sama will surely come!”
“How brave. It'll be nice if you call out his name when you're under me.”
Zion gripped Titta's shoulders and threw her down with all his strength.
Titta moaned. She closed her tear-filled eyes and cried Tigre's name in her mind.
Zion put his weight on Titta.
--- It sounded.
A short, slow, sound.
Zion could not believe it as he looked at his hand.
It was the hand he had just stretched out to Titta.
An arrow was running through it.
Rather than feeling pain, it was a chill that ran down Zion's spine.
It would be difficult to aim through the narrow gap of a balcony railing, especially since this was the second floor.
Beneath the balcony, a voice called to her.
Titta opened her eyes and thrust Zion, who was stunned, aside.
Standing up, Titta cried tears of joy.
The boy with red hair and a bow was riding on horseback.
Titta, every day, every night, prayed for him to return safely.
Placing his bow in the saddle, Tigre cried while extending his arms.
Titta, without any signs of hesitation, shook away Zion's hands as he tried to capture her and jumped over the balcony.
At the same time, the horse Tigre rode stumbled with a broken foot and sprawled forward.
--- I can't reach Titta... I won't make it.
Stepping on the saddle, he jumped off the horse.
Tigre stretched his hands as far as he could to reach the falling Titta.
In the air, Tigre strongly embraced Titta's delicate body.
Though the two looked as if they had been thrown to the ground, they were not injured. Immediately before crashing into the earth, a mysterious wind wrapped around the two. Tigre and Titta landed softly.
Titta's skirt floated, swaying in the wind.
“--- You did something crazy for this girl, really.”
Argent hair fluttered as she walked to Tigre.
She lowered the longsword in her grasp. Elen looked down with an amazed expression from atop her horse. She used the wind to help Tigre. Hearing Elen speak, Tigre understood that.
“I don't expect anything in return... but if I didn't help you, wouldn't you have been injured? If you landed poorly, you could have died.”
“I was counting on you.”
While sitting up, Tigre thanked Elen. His eyes turned to the balcony.
“So Zion is in the house...”
However, Zion no longer appeared. He must have run inside.
“Thenardier's son. He is the current heir.”
“Ho, so he's probably their Commander.”
Elen looked back and thought. There were nearly thirty troops accompanying her.
“So the boss is in the house. I want ten of you in there.”
The soldiers got off their horses and entered the mansion with sword and spear at the ready. Tigre turned around and looked at Titta.
Though Titta was surprised, tears blotted her hazel eyes. She clung to Tigre strongly.
She called Tigre's name many times, the sound of tears mixing in her voice.
“I believed... I knew Tigre-sama would return.”
“Sorry for worrying you. It's fine now.”
Tigre wanted to hold Titta closely until she settled down, but there was no time. Their bodies separated.
Tigre noticed the black bow Titta held.
Titta's clothes were torn, her fair skin and undergarments were visible. Tigre removed his mantle and gently wrapped her body.
“Why did you take the bow?”
“Ah, this is the only thing I could carry...”
Titta had finished crying. Given her situation, she was embarrassed when answering the question.
“Let me take care of myself. You should have evacuated.”
“I, I couldn't do that!”
Tigre frowned. Titta refused him with a strong tone.
“Tigre-sama, you left the house to me. Even if it was scary, I couldn't run away.”
Tigre sighed. Though he knew of Titta's stubbornness, it was beyond his imagination.
“What an energetic girl. Do you like her?”
Elen, on horseback, looked down at Titta, apparently pleased.
Hearing the voice, Titta looked up at Elen and then looked around.
Behind Elen, Knights in iron armor lined up silently and increased in number.
Around them, many of Thenardier's men rolled on the ground.
“What, what is this? Tigre-sama, who on earth are these people...”
“Ah, this is Elen... She is a Vanadis of Zhcted, Eleanora Viltaria. They are her subordinates.”
Tigre explained in a vacant tone. Titta was at a loss for words, her mouth was slightly agape.
“If I were to tell you more, it would take a while...”
Tigre stopped speaking. His left hand thrust before Titta's face as he grabbed an arrow shot from the shadows.
Tigre nocked the arrow he just caught and shot the bow in an off-hand manner. A muffled scream came from where the arrow disappeared. He had shot the hidden enemy soldier, causing a voice of admiration to sound from his allies.
Pain ran through his hand holding a bow. Tigre looked at his palm. He must have been injured when he grabbed the arrow, as the wound ran linearly.
“Tigre-sama, your hand.”
Titta tore her skirt without hesitation and carefully wrapped Tigre's hand with it.
“Sorry, I'm only good at these things...”
“That's enough. Thank you.”
He patted Titta's head in gratitude.
“Are you injured?”
Tigre returned a smile as Elen asked him anxiously.
“No problem. I can still fight.”
The fight had just begun. He would not stop with a wound of this level.
“I would hope so. Look, reinforcements.”
Elen glanced away and laughed calmly. From the other side of the main street, many Knights were rushing fiercely on their horses. They were Thenardier's troops.
After waiting for them to approach a certain distance, Elen ordered her cavalry.
“ZirnitraBlack Dragon Flag!”
The banner of Zhcted hung high and wide. The soldiers of House Thenardier screamed in terror. Most had participated in the Battle of Dinant.
The vivid colors of the flag fluttered in the wind. They had learned to fear it in battle.
Elen smiled and pointed her sword at the remaining forces.
A battle cry sounded from Zhcted army. The troops brandished their swords and spears and ran fiercely on their horses.
Before exchanging blades, the troops from Thenardier lost their will to fight. They screamed and turned to flee.
“Tigre, We're going.”
Tigre looked at his bow as he tried to respond.
There was a deep crack.
--- Was it when I caught Titta?
Because he was rushed and had only vague thoughts, he had only now noticed the damage to his bow.
--- I can't use this anymore. It will take time and materials to mend it as well.
The arrow he shot a moment ago would be its last.
Titta ran up to him with short steps and presented the black bow to Tigre with both hands.
She had defended it, the black bow which was his family heirloom.
Tigre recalled his father's words.
Only when you truly need this bow should you use it. Do not use it otherwise.
Tigre hesitated for a moment.
Surely this was such a time.
Tigre received the bow.
Though it felt as eerie as usual, he lightly plucked the string. He had neglected it for more than a month. The faintly trembling air and a certain elasticity transmitted through his finger.
--- I can use it as it is.
As he grasped the bow he had not used to date, a harmonious feeling traveled through his hand.
Though he had touched the bow many times, it was his first time feeling this.
It was as if the bow was willing to let him use it.
--- Father, as the present head of the Vorn family, I will use this bow to show you a fight that will not shame my name.
“Young Lord! You're safe!”
Rurick and Bertrand ran up on their horses. Tigre stood up and shook their hands.
“Rurick, I'm depending on you to take care of this girl.”
Leaving Titta to the bald archer, Tigre gripped his black bow and mounted a horse.
While sitting on Rurick's horse, Titta fearfully called out to Elen.
“Hm? What is it?”
Elen looked at Titta with interest.
“What is your relationship with Tigre-sama?”
Elen almost laughed, but replied with a whimsical tone.
“That guy. He's mine.”
It was not a lie.
Tigre asked Elen to lend him her soldiers, but he was still not freed as a prisoner.
And in the few days it took to reach Alsace from Leitmeritz, the deadline, as stipulated by the ransom, passed.
--- Tigre probably hasn't noticed. Either way, he can't do anything about it.
Elen looked toward the Thenardier Army with a brilliant smile.
Though Titta was surprised, she stared at Elen and clasped her hands, squeezing them together to gather her courage.
“I, I won't lose...!”
“I'm looking forward to it. I'll have to talk to Tigre about who he'll be married to.”
Elen laughed as she saw Titta off.
A soldier appeared with a report.
“I'm sorry, the enemy's leader escaped.”
“I see. Well, it can't be helped.”
Elen murmured with regret.
When Tigre heard Titta remained in his mansion while the Thenardier Army attacked, he recklessly rushed in fright.
With only his horse, he had quickly made his way to the mansion.
Elen panicked and had her men follow her. She caught up as Titta fell from the second floor.
In that time, Zion was able to run away.
--- I'm a bit jealous.
“The enemy is currently reorganizing and are preparing to withdraw.”
“You worked hard.”
After giving words of appreciation to the soldier, Elen brought her horse near Tigre.
Though Bertrand was speaking to Tigre, he nodded slightly as soon as he noticed Elen.
“I will go.”
“Let's go, then.”
The two spoke at the same time and laughed as they looked at each other.
“Leave about one hundred men to search for those who are lurking about in town. We will attack with the rest.”
They were fighting a force three times their size. Tigre and Elen, as well as the soldiers they lead, had a high morale.
“Don't let even a single soldier escape. We will repay them in full.”
He did not have the desire to drive them away or finish the battle. He would crush them.
Tigre turned to the old soldier by his side. His smile was full of anger and the will to fight.
“Hold my quiver and follow me.”
“With both hands? I don't mind, but can't I even have a sword to block with?”
Tigre smiled bullishly toward the old man who was up to his normal antics.
“So long as you are with Elen and me, neither sword nor arrow will reach you. I will not let it happen.”
Zion escaped through the back door of the mansion and avoided the eyes of his solders. Upon his return, he received a surprising report.
“The Zhcted Army is attacking! The ZirnitraBlack Dragon Flag!”
“Zhcted? Impossible! Why would they show up here!”
The soldiers' faces went pale. The power they had when attacking the town was no longer present.
While treating the hand hit by Tigre, Zion stared at his soldiers.
--- Such cowardice. Why did I take these people?
This time, Zion led three thousand soldiers, and more than 80% had participated in Dinant.
Zion wished to remove the dissatisfaction and fear of defeat from them as quickly as possible. They would soon battle Ganelon.
It had completely backfired.
Their fear of the Zhcted Army revived in his soldiers.
Zion's voice trembled, a cold sweat blotted his forehead. It was not just the soldiers who were fearful.
“But why is Vorn here... Wasn't Vorn a prisoner of Zhcted?”
Zion was convinced.
“Did he sell himself to that country? He defected to Zhcted, and just when we attacked the town... That traitor, that coward.”
The Thenardier Army left the town of Celesta and joined with the scattered soldiers as they moved toward Molsheim Plains.
Molsheim Plains had flat terrain and would be the best location to demonstrate the might of his army.
Zion summoned his units and had them reorganize.
“How many soldiers?”
“About twenty-seven hundred.”
Zion was irritated. Three hundred soldiers were lost in the town.
If he had not allowed his troops to indulge in the chaos and had taken charge of his army, he would have been able to escape from the city without too large a sacrifice.
“And the enemy?”
“I don't know for sure... a few hundred, one thousand at the most.”
“I need to know how many! Increase the number of scouts! Find the exact number!”
Zion ground his teeth as he drove the soldiers away.
“... Shit. Well, I have the Dragon here.”
Though he did not think he would have a chance to use it, there would be no shortage of fodder if the enemy attacked.
“We will beat and crush them. I will get rid of the disgrace from Dinant.”
Zion divided his remaining troops in two.
One group was composed of spear bearers and infantry.
The other group consisted of one thousand troops and remained grounded with him.
The main force of one thousand troops stood behind the VyfalWyvern.
The army of Brune was lined in three rows on the Molsheim Plains. It was a more than effective plan.
Though Tigre's mansion was ruined, some of the objects were safe, the map of the Alsace territory included.
While studying the map, Elen, Tigre, and Lim, on horseback, spoke to each other.
“Though we have one thousand troops, we need to leave some to defend the town. We'll only have nine hundred to fight with. Based on our scouts, the enemy numbers three thousand. Even if they have decreased somewhat, we are still outnumbered three to one.”
Elen looked at Tigre after hearing Lim's explanation.
“Tigre, do you know where the enemy might escape to?”
“Probably the Molsheim Plains.”
Tigre pointed at the map.
“Zion will place his troops so as to maximize a counterattack, then he'll follow after us. Until then, he'll just stay in position. The only place he can do that is at Molsheim Plains.”
Unlike the rest of Alsace, full of mountains and forests, the Molsheim Plains had gentle hills.
“The strength of Brune lies in their ability to settle down and rush forward with spear and shield.”
As she had said, Brune excelled in rushing power and the ability to penetrate defenses.
They held long spears and wore thick iron armor while riding horses. They attacked through the crevices between shield bearers.
The shields would be stuck together tightly and was large enough to cover them from head to waist. Though heavy, they could protect themselves while mounted.
Lining up and charging together, it was one of Brune's most frequently used tactics.
Most frightening was how difficult it was to run away from their attack. With their heavy armor and long spears, even the soldiers behind the front lines could be skewered.
“If they use shields, then we just have to shower them with arrows.”
Brune was full of fools who boasted of their strength, all while making light of the arrow.
“The Kingdom of Brune has many undulating meadows. Those means of fighting are a necessity.”
“Very well. We'll shoot them.”
Elen declared clearly.
“Tigre, four hundred soldiers, and I will go. Lim, I leave the rest to you. Take any advantage you can. By the way, any suggestions?”
“I would like rope. It's best if it is a bundle of thin rope. As many as possible.”
Having heard her, Tigre cautiously asked her a question.
“What will you do with the horses?”
They had traveled from Leitmeritz in a hurry. Lim tilted her head in confusion.
“Is it a problem if we leave them in Celesta?”
“I just thought of something. Would you let me use them?”
It happened a half koku later.
Both armies faced off in Molsheim Plains.
Elen and Tigre led four hundred cavalry, shrinking the distance little by little.
They reached the distance at which he could aim his arrow. Tigre swallowed his saliva in tension.
“Are you afraid?”
Elen spoke quietly to Tigre so only he could hear.
“I am afraid.”
Though Tigre answered in such a manner, he was smiling.
It was true Tigre was afraid, but he was next to Elen, which calmed him down. Rather than anxiety, he felt courage welling deep within his body.
“But – I don't feel like losing.”
The troops before him more than doubled his own.
“What a coincidence, same here.”
Elen unsheathed her longsword and held it high. A small wind stroked Tigre and Elen, as if encouraging the warriors.
“I wonder if I'm feeling this for the first time because you're next to me.”
As soon as they were done joking, her smile disappeared. She swung her blade.
Amidst the noise of the battlefield, a mysterious wind carried the girl's voice across the battlefield.
The four hundred Zhcted troops ran across the land as they raised a battle cry. The sky above the Thenardier Army was covered in countless arrows as both armies opened fire.
A calm wind whirled around Elen's sword. The attacks swirled around the troops, making all arrows fall to the ground.
Tigre pulled arrows from his quiver and nocked them between each of four fingers and released them, skewering three enemies through the face at almost the same time. They fell, motionless.
“You really are a man without convention.”
Elen looked impressed as she spoke with admiration.
“To hear I lack convention from you is a bit unsatisfying.”
“Don't worry, it was a complement.”
The two armies clashed.
A spear was thrust from the right and left toward Elen.
Her horse skillfully avoided them. Elen raised her sword, and, with two quick flashes, blood flew from two necks.
Her silver-white hair waved in the wind. Every time the Silver Flash glittered, a fountain of fresh blood from the enemy was created.
--- Silvfrau[Wind Princess of the Silver Flash] and Meltis[Danseuse of the Sword], is it?
Brilliantly poised on her horse, her sword moved through the wind as if dancing. Tigre thought the two nicknames were well suited.
“I can't lose here.”
Tigre drew his bow to the limit and struck the head of the Commanders and flag bearer. The archers were still out of distance.
Thinking normally, it was odd to be able to aim his arrows so accurately in such a situation.
The blade of an enemy approached from the edge of his view. A scream and blood flew out before him before he completed his aim.
Tigre neither evaded nor defended and concentrated solely on his bow. His trust in Elen made it possible.
In response to his faith, Elen let neither spear nor sword reach him. All soldiers were cut down, all arrows knocked away.
Thenardier's first formation, with their Commander and flag bearer shot down, were confused for a time and quickly collapsed.
Elen broke through the first unit.
The enemy's second formation, the main force, appeared.
Their massive number and force gave them a sense of strength and terror.
The roar of horseshoes and the clash of Knights shook the earth.
Tigre let loose an arrow at soldiers on horseback rushing toward him. Though the men fell off their horses, he did not allow himself to relax.
“Leave it to me. You take the flag and the Commanders and lower their morale.”
The soldiers of Zhcted rushed forward, overwhelming the enemy.
Tigre aimed at the enemy's flag bearer in the areas where the troops collided.
Though they collided with full force, Elen did not waver a single step. She parried swords, cut through shields, and cleaved through the helmets of the enemy.
“... Is that the strength of her sword?”
Though Elen was an excellent swordswoman, it was absurd to think she could cut through a helmet with her slender arms. The Vanadis of silver-white hair responded.
“Before the Silver Flash, armor is nothing but paper.”
Tigre shot one arrow after another, knocking the horses over and forcing their riders to the ground. Though he saw the corpses on the ground, he did not flinch and continued without mercy. When a spear closed in, he switched to a sword.
The Zhcted Army was being pushed back. The numbers were vastly different, so they were gradually forced to retreat.
“An SuroEarth Dragon is approaching!”
The soldier reporting could not hide his fear. Elen frowned.
“Did Thenardier manage to tame a Dragon while I was unaware?”
“I doubt it. If they had it prepared, it would have shown up in Dinant.”
Impatience and tension floated to Tigre's face.
He saw the Earth Dragon. Its length was greater than the one Tigre killed before.
“Copper colored, is it?”
The Earth Dragon gave a roar. The men trembled and their armor rattled. The horses were paralyzed in fear, both friend and foe alike.
The Earth Dragon stamped the ground as it ran. Its tail mowed down the soldiers of Zhcted as it passed by, and it tore through soldiers with its arms. Nothing worked against it.
One person was eaten, another was cut in half as his body vomited blood. There were soldiers who stood up to it, but their attacks did not work.
Its brass scales were not injured. Swords were broken, spears were thrust aside. Axes and maces had their handles cracked.
With their weapons lost, they were stepped on cruelly and crushed underfoot.
Tigre shot an arrow at the Dragon's eye.
The arrow was accurately aimed at the eye, but was easily repelled. Tigre looked grim. Though the Earth Dragon's eyesight was not terribly good, a special film protected it.
--- There were a number of things I could use back then...
This time, it was a vast plain, where the Earth Dragon could exercise its power.
The soldiers were mowed down. The Earth Dragon raged about as it turned. The meadow was paved in blood, lumps of flesh and iron scraps distorted the landscape.
It was only a single Dragon, yet hundreds of men were helpless and could not halt its advances.
--- What should I do...
It was not possible to advance while avoiding the Dragon. The Dragon moved to the left and right, blocking all passage to the Thenardier Army. Once the distance to the Dragon shrunk, the army moved further back.
The soldiers of Zhcted were shaking. Elen drew her longsword as if scolding her soldiers.
“Stand your ground! This will be our victory!”
Tigre stood next to her. At this distance, he could aim at the gap in the enemy's armor.
--- Though I won't be shooting at the Dragon, my shots will be limited.
Bertrand held more arrows from behind as Tigre continued to shoot. He did not know how many he shot, yet though his fingers and arms were numb, Tigre continued to shoot.
Suddenly, they were cornered on the battlefield.
The field was large and held the four hundred troops. By this time, Lim's men had advanced around the Thenardier Army.
--- I was waiting for this.
Elen made her horse advance. She thrust her arm vertically and rushed toward the SuroEarth Dragon.
“Fighting a Dragon was unexpected. I'll show you a little trick with this Earth Dragon.”
Arifal, called by Elen, tinged a pale color in response. Around the blade a wind roared, a small storm brewed about it.
The storm continued to undulate. It condensed into a raging tempest.
“Ley AdmosCleave the Wind!”
She swung her arm downward, throwing the wind along the ground.
The ringing of the wind split the ear. It bored into the earth as it traveled.
The scales, impossible to pierce with sword or spear, the nails and fangs, the entirety of the Earth Dragon was sheared in half.
On the ground lay the corpse of the Dragon, a deep crevice engraved about it.
Those of Thenardier stood still.
They had seen something unnatural with their eyes. Wind flowed from Elen's sword and brought her triumph.
“What was that? I've never seen that before!”
Tigre inadvertently shouted in excitement.
“Of course, since it was the first time I showed you.”
Watching the blue light of the wind disappear, Elen let out a small breath.
“It is a mighty power that can't be used by ordinary humans. There are few who have ever seen. Aren't you lucky?”
“I hope nothing ever happens that requires I see it again.”
Although Elen's eyes sharpened for a moment, her gaze teased Tigre as she looked at him. They laughed together.
The Zhcted Army could now continue to march.
Shortly before the Earth Dragon's defeat, Zion received a message that a second team, detached from the unit, approximately four hundred in size, approached from the west.
“From what happened on Dinant, I figured they would do something like this.”
Lim's troops knew of the approaching enemy and began to withdraw immediately. They sporadically stopped their resistance and remained on a slightly elevated hill a small distance away.
They were a force of four hundred led by Lim, and they were being chased.
It seemed there was an accident as the soldiers of the Thenardier Army moved up the hill swiftly. Once they reached the middle of the slope, they fell simultaneously, as if caught by something.
They noticed a muddy rope stretched across their legs. They fell hard, and many were tied together.
The men looked up, realizing they were trapped. The troops from Zhcted turned around and ran down the slope.
“Look at the enemy, they did not pay attention to the ground below them and fell.”
Lim murmured and pointed down the hill, guiding her soldiers.
This resulted in a quick reversal, in which the four hundred detached troops defeated the Thenardier Army with surprising swiftness.
--- This is thanks to Lord Tigrevurmud.
Gathering her troops, Lim muttered the words in the back of her mind as she looked in the direction Elen fought.
Lim had the residents of Celesta prepare rope for the hill, but did not believe there would be enough time. In spite of that, enough had been gathered to devastate Zion's troops.
--- I doubt it would go well enough with just their hatred for Thenardier. It must have been due to the trust they hold in Lord Tigrevurmud.
Pushing her golden hair aside, Lim looked to the sky.
The sun was sinking.
The color of the sky was changing; night would come soon.
Zion was given two reports, one after another. His detached corps was routed, and the ground forces, including the SuroEarth Dragon, were defeated.
“... That can't be.”
He muttered, his small body trembled as he stood by the VyfalWyvern.
“What about the Dragon? Isn't it an Earth Dragon? Isn't it invulnerable to swords and spears?”
Nothing could be answered.
“Zion-sama, use the Wyvern.”
One person advised him to give up.
“The Earth Dragon should have slaughtered them!”
Zion shouted at his subordinates.
“It was a valuable Dragon I borrowed from father. Its claws were more precious than even one hundred of you!”
However, he could think of no other plan.
A new report was brought to him.
“Enemy forces have approached from the rear!”
Zion was annoyed.
“How many are there?”
“It is difficult to tell since it is approaching nightfall, but it appears to be two thousand cavalry hidden in the shadows.”
“... Two thousand?”
It took him time to speak.
The impact Zion received was immeasurable. The morale he had kept until now had finally disappeared.
Right now, he had only six hundred soldiers remaining. The Dragon was not within his calculations as a human.
--- How can I fight with more than three times the enemy coming from behind?
Zion did not notice the actual number of enemies.
Though there were two thousand horses, there were only one hundred men.
This region, when dark, was shadowed by the mountains and forests. Tigre understood that.
It was not just Zion but his soldiers who were visibly upset.
Originally, he had not come to fight in Alsace. He had simply come to pillage the land.
“Call back the second formation! Have them retreat!”
Hearing Zion's instructions, the soldiers nearby were stunned.
They were surrounded. He was telling them to gather and fight to the end.
“Zion-sama, please remain here. Even with two thousand troops, the Zhcted Army cannot take us out in an instant. If we can hold on until the last enemy is cut down, we will be victorious!”
Zion hit the ground hard. The arrow wound in his hand destroyed what little calm remained in him.
“You will hold your ground? You, did you already forget your miserable defeat in Dinant?”
His fear changed to violence.
Zion did not want to taste the defeat of Dinant again.
“Besides, we have two thousand troops approaching from the rear! How can we possibly hold our ground!”
If he knew the troops approaching from behind numbered only one hundred, he may have been able to remain calm. Could he fight back? There must have been a way.
However, it was impossible for him to know. Due to Elen and Lim's skillful command, he did not realize it.
When Zion's instructions were transmitted to the second formation, their morale had already greatly decreased.
At a distance where his blade could reach the enemy, he would fight desperately.
With the enemy he could not see approaching, he had to give unreasonable instructions.
However, they served House Thenardier. The troops could not act independently.
With their retreat, the battlefield changed.
Elen did not overlook it.
“We're fighting back now!”
Elen cried out to her troops. Until now, she had killed many an enemy, yet on her beautiful face, in her silver-white hair, there was not a single drop of blood. She raised her blade, which remained unmarred.
A cheer erupted from the exhausted soldiers.
Unlike the Thenardier Army, they came to fight.
Elen, Tigre, and those who wielded a sword at the front, none would hold back.
As the enemy retreated, Elen cried out mercilessly.
In addition, Lim's forces also joined them. The soldiers attacked from two directions.
Taking advantage of their mobility, they cut into the cavalry, little by little. Eventually, the enemy collapsed.
The flow of battle this evening was completely in favor of the Zhcted Army.
When the main force clashed with the Zhcted Army, Zion, guarded by fifty cavalry two belsta (about two kilometers) away, stepped away from the VyfalWyvern.
“That bastard, that bastard...”
His words could not be heard by the others. There was no excuse for his disastrous defeat. Though the main force, further away, still endured, they were clearly being pushed back. It would only be a matter of time before they were forced to retreat.
“This can't be. I can't possibly lose... Not to Vorn.”
He was interrupted there. He recognized the shadows of ten of the enemy troops approaching him.
The two standing at the head of the rest were Tigre and Elen. Zion knew, having fled before.
Though Tigre planned to go alone, Elen left the command of the army to Lim and followed him with a few subordinates.
“You can't escape this late in the battle.”
Staring at Zion, Tigre threw out those words in anger.
However, Zion did not care about Tigre's feelings. Picking up a shield and spear, he advanced. Abhorrence floated in his eyes, a sneer covered his face.
“So you'd betray your country. I suppose the lowly blood of a hunter would invite the enemy. You're putting on quite a smug face. How dare you!”
“Before you insult me, you should look at yourself.”
“Burning the homes of innocents, stealing their possessions. You are no better than a thief.”
Tigre spoke those words with a quiet anger. His voice was strong. Zion took a deep breath.
Zion spoke with contempt. He would not forgive himself if he allowed Tigre to call him a thief. Tigre's insult was inexcusable.
“People, you say. I simply took what they threw away and cut things that passed by me. Why should I bother worrying?”
Elen muttered as if he were a trivial man.
Tigre did not respond. He realized words would be useless.
“I don't know what you're thinking, but I will not forgive you for invading my territory and harming the people under my dominion.”
“Acting like you're important...”
No more words left Zion's mouth. Ignoring Tigre, he pointed his spear and shouted.
“Fight me, Vorn! Or is that impossible, since you're always running away?”
“Have you lost your mind?”
Elen spoke in amazement. Though she tried to shout an order to her subordinates, Tigre stretched out his arm, restraining her.
“It can't be, you plan to do it?”
Tigre nodded silently and strongly. Elen pouted and let out a small noise momentarily, then she tapped Tigre's shoulder with a smile.
“Very well. This is your fight.”
“... Thank you.”
Thanking Elen without looking back, Tigre clutched his bow and moved forward on his horse.
Seeing Tigre, Zion looked at him suspiciously.
“Your weapon? You aren't taking a sword or spear from those Zhcted bastards?”
“This is my weapon.”
Tigre thrust out his jet-black bow in a dignified manner. Zion stared at him in irritation.
“Are you joking? How will you fight with a bow? All you can do is get a surprise attack.”
“... Want to try me?”
Tigre pulled an arrow from his quiver and shot it after nocking it.
Though the arrow tore through the wind and sped toward Zion's head, it was blocked by the shield.
Tigre did not care and aimed at Zion's chest. It was, once again, blocked by the shield.
“No matter how many times you try, it's useless.”
Zion jeered. Elen simply watched on in silence.
Tigre took his third shot and aimed for Zion's right arm. Once again, it stuck into the shield.
Zion gazed at Tigre in anger and mockery.
“It seems you're useless in combat. Not only are you a traitor, you can only use a bow. To the end you couldn't act like a noble of Brune. I will take your precious neck and end everything here.”
He no longer wished to associate with Tigre and made his judgment. He then rushed forward with spear in hand.
Tigre did not move and nocked an arrow.
Even Elen's eyes were glued to the scene. Though neither she nor her soldiers knew what would happen, she grasped her blade and started to cry out.
At that moment, the two shadows crossed.
Blood appeared on Zion's spear as it skimmed Tigre's body. Tigre managed to escape by a narrow margin.
On the other hand, Tigre shot an arrow which pierced through the shield.
It happened immediately after that.
A groan was emitted.
It was Zion's voice. Stopping the horse, he crouched forward. His handsome face was soiled by his black hair, distorted in agony. He was covered in a greasy sweat from the sharp pain.
The arrow Tigre shot traveled through the shield and deeply penetrated Zion's left arm. His attack happened slightly before the spear hit Tigre, so Zion's movements were dulled.
Just then, Zion noticed.
Tigre had concentrated all arrows on the same portion of the shield. The fourth was able to pierce through the thick oak.
He shivered in terror.
Zion had not fixed his shield's motion; rather, he moved in accordance to the arrows Tigre shot. The final shot occurred as they passed each other.
--- Did he read how I would move my shield?
None amongst the Thenardier Army could understand Tigre's skill.
Still, Tigre had pierced through a shield with only four arrows.
They had held the bow in derision until now.
Archers had been held in contempt, ridiculed, outcast, and treated as criminals.
Now, they were forced to fear what it could do.
Tigre nocked his fifth arrow. Cold sweat dripped from Zion's face.
A cry was heard. Zion moved away. Soldiers rode their horses in to defend Zion.
Elen silently acted upon seeing their movements. She ordered her men to charge as she brandished the Silver Flash.
The Zhcted Army and Thenardier Army faced one another. Tigre was caught in the turmoil, but was protected. Zion, too, was helped by his men and disappeared from Tigre's view.
“Look at you.”
Elen called out in an angry voice as she drew closer on her horse. Her white finger gently traced Tigre's bleeding wound.
“It's just a cut... Don't worry me so much.”
Elen showed an expression of caring befitting neither a Commander or swordsman but a girl her age. Tigre could not look directly at her.
“Your hand looks terrible as well.”
Elen looked at the injury on his left hand for the first time.
The wound had opened again. The cloth Titta wrapped around his hand was soaked in blood as he gripped his bow.
Finally realizing it, he felt the pain in his hand, though he could still shoot arrows.
--- Where is Zion?
Tigre searched for the enemy General.
A strong gust of wind blew, and the horses flinched. Tigre protected his face with his arm and looked about carefully.
“... A VyfalWyvern!?”
With large wings reminiscent of a bat, now fully expanded, the Wyvern flew high into the sky, carrying Zion on its back.
Every time it flapped its wings, the wind generated forced Tigre and Elen to stop. The Wyvern flew high into the air.
It circled in the air to stabilize itself. It then turned and moved away from the battlefield.
“My wind can't reach that...!”
Elen frowned in regret.
Tigre nocked an arrow to his bow; Zion's figure was hidden by the Wyvern.
His arrow would reach, but it would not pierce through the Wyvern's scales. It was no different from the fight with the SuroEarth Dragon.
… He did not have the power.
He could not allow such a thing to happen.
[Shoot the Dragon.]
Suddenly, a quiet voice sounded in Tigre's head.
--- What was that?
Tigre looked about in surprise, but no one had called for him.
Though it sounded like a woman's voice, Elen was focused on the enemy before her.
[I will say it once again. Shoot the Dragon.]
He heard the voice again.
He understood it clearly this time.
Despite the screams, the sound of weapons clashing, armors shattering, and corpses falling, the voice resounded.
The voice reaching his ear was clearly different.
Tigre glanced at the black bow in his hand.
--- Could it be this?
He felt a sense of incongruity with the black bow, that is why he thought that.
Looking at the sky again, the Wyvern had moved even further.
--- If I don't pay him back, I know I'll regret it...!
Tigre, determined, drew his arrow back.
His town was scorched and his people injured. He would never permit the man who harmed Titta to run away.
In accordance to the words, he aimed his bow at the Wyvern and shot the arrow.
Was it truly an arrow? The moment the arrow was released, a fierce backlash hit Tigre's body. At the same time, the Silver Flash in Elen's hand tinged a pale light.
The shot flew straight, propelled by a helical wind.
It sounded like the roar of a beast. It flew toward the VyfalWyvern and went past.
Though the Wyvern lost its balance, it was not injured.
--- What happened?
Tigre looked at the Wyvern and a deformed cloud in blank surprise.
He had never heard of an arrow acting in such a manner.
Tigre returned with Elen's voice. She was also surprised. Tigre felt as if it was the first time she had ever been surprised on the battlefield.
“What was that just now...? I've only seen something like that with a Viralt[Dragonic Tool].”
No answer could be found. He could not reply to Elen's question.
“I don't know, either...”
A shadow moved over Tigre's head as he responded in bewilderment.
The Wyvern had somehow recovered. It was running from the battlefield again.
Tigre readied a new arrow. Though he did not understand, he knew he could kill the Wyvern.
--- The next... will hit!
Elen drew her horse close to Tigre and raised her longsword.
“I'll take care of the wind. You just aim the arrow!”
Elen knew nothing about Tigre's bow.
However, when Tigre shot his arrow, her sword lit up in response. It was as if it allowed him to shoot his arrow in a supernatural manner.
--- I don't know what happened... But if it's Tigre, he can do it.
Though it was no different from intuition, Elen knew her [Dragonic Tool].
It was not a longsword she simply came upon.
Her [Silver Flash] was given the name of Koma no Zanki[Brilliant Beheader of the Fallen Spirit].
Elen did not know Tigre very well.
But she believed in him.
Steadying his arm and aiming at the Wyvern, he drew his bow to its limit.
He released it.
The atmosphere swelled and space distorted, twisting about his arrow.
The shock wave blew the nearby soldiers away.
Smoke followed the path of the arrow, forming a storm which raged strong enough that those nearby could not open their eyes.
The arrow Tigre shot advanced, a brutal tornado in its wake. It hit the VyfalWyvern's abdomen.
--- Pierce it.
The Wyvern let out an earsplitting sound as it was injured. It moved weakly back and forth and crashed in a nearby marsh.
It hit the water with a dull sound.
The Dragon sunk completely. Zion did not float to the surface.
All looked at where the Wyvern crashed, completely stunned. Even Tigre, who shot the arrow, watched with astonishment.
The soldiers of the Thenardier Army dropped their arms. It took a while for everyone to return to consciousness, even Elen.
“... Tigrevurmud Vorn has killed Zion Thenardier!”
Following Elen's voice, a shout of victory sounded from the Zhcted Army.
The Thenardier soldiers trembled, and their eyes faltered.
The main forces of the Thenardier Army, which fought, a short distance away, looked at the Wyvern as it fell to the earth. They split up and tried to escape while their enemy celebrated their victory.
Their swords and spears were discarded, and they tried to flee, collapsing over one another.
The Thenardier Army invaded Alsace with three thousand troops. Those running away numbered only nine hundred.
Their Commander was lost, their weapons and armor were cast aside, and the injured men ran away on their own.
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