Madan no Ou to Vanadis:Volume 04 Chapter 1 - 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 1 - Temporary Farewell
A group of people intentionally traversed the Vosyes Mountains which ran along the border between Brune and Zhcted. Those who cross these mountains are few since there are few paths, all of which are poorly maintained.
However, the group rode on horseback, advancing silently along the narrow road.
They numbered approximately two thousand, marching beneath the cold winter weather which blew the ZirnitraBlack Dragon Flag about – the flag belonging to the King of Zhcted. At the forefront of the group was a young girl.
She was 16 or 17 years old, a beautiful girl with silver-white hair down to her waist. Her eyes were reminiscent of a ruby. She was both lovely and valiant.
Her name was Eleanora Viltaria. She was one of only seven Vanadis which exist in the Zhcted Kingdom. Though those intimate with her called her by her nickname, Ellen, there were none amongst the troops she led who would.
A tense atmosphere drifted in the air. The silver-white haired Vanadis grasped the rein in her hands.
One Knight advanced from the soldiers following her, riding next to Ellen. She was Ellen's elder by two or three years. Her golden hair flowed from a tail on the left side of her head; her pupils were blue. Though she was a beauty, her expression showed no sign of affability.
Her name was Limlisha, and she was the second in command; she was Ellen's right arm.
“What is it, Lim?”
Seeing her trusted adjutant look at her from the side with a stern gaze, Ellen called out to her by her nickname. Lim nodded, her face still expressionless.
“Because of the wind, we should rest soon. The soldiers and the horses are quite tired.”
The wind strongly blew through the mountain path. It was cold and made travelers numb. The soldiers were wrapped in blankets and wore fur beneath their armor to keep out the cold weather, but even then, the people who were sniffling and had red ears were not few in number.
Only Ellen wore clothing that did not protect against the cold weather. She wore her military outfit made of silk. Her stomach was bare and a longsword was held at her waist – it was a ViraltDragonic Tool granted to only the Vanadis, which helped protect her from the cold.
“We will take a rest in a half koku. We can get out of this pass before sunset, right?”
“It is possible.”
Without any time to think, Lim responded immediately with a short answer. Ellen smiled wryly and softened her expression. She had come to talk, despite having calculated that far.
“I understand. Dig a hole and start a fire. I'll allow some alcohol as well.”
If they did not do so quickly, any fire they attempted to start would disappear from the currently strengthening winds.
Lim returned to the soldiers. Ellen looked up at the sky with a dull expression. Rather than looking at the sun, she was looking at the gray clouds with a vague sense of anxiety.
--- Once we pass these mountains, we will be in Zhcted Kingdom... In my LeitMeritz.
However, that was not Ellen's destination. She was heading to the north of LeitMeritz to Legnica where her best friend, Alexandra – Sasha – governed.
Just a few days ago, Ellen was in the land of Territoire in Brune Kingdom. She was cooperating with Tigrevurmud Vorn – Tigre.
She separated from him and crossed the Vosyes Mountains because she was told Sasha was in a critical situation. When crisis fell before one of them, Ellen and Sasha always ran to each other. That was the pledge they had exchanged.
Until now, Ellen had only been thinking about Sasha; she had no room to think of anything else, but now that they were taking a break, she suddenly remembered Tigre. She turned her gaze to the west – toward Brune.
She murmured his name unconsciously. Ellen shook her head when she realized what it was she said.
She reminded herself that he was fine.
One thousand men had been left with Tigre, and the famous Black Knight, Roland, announced his cooperation. Tigre's enemy, Duke Thenardier, could not immediately plan something. For now, she should help her best friend and return quickly.
--- Ellen did not know Roland was killed, nor did she know that the Muozinel Army had attacked Brune from their borders to the southeast.
It was impossible for her to know, especially since she was no longer in Brune. Ellen was an excellent governor, Commander, and warrior, but she was hardly omnipotent.
Ellen gradually looked down and prayed to Triglav, the God of War, for Tigre's safety. The faith in Brune and Zhcted were mostly the same.
Though it may have been more appropriate to pray to a more suitable God when asking for his safety, Ellen was most familiar with Triglav.
Her bright red pupils continued to look at the cloud covered sky, not a single ray of light reaching the earth.
That described the current situation of the country of Brune quite well.
The day Duke Felix Aaron Thenardier received a report regarding the Muozinel invasion was the same day he arrived home from the Royal Capital.
“... Something troublesome appeared.”
In his room surrounded by luxurious furniture, he clicked his tongue. The servant who brought the report reacted to it and went down on his knees at once. The best way not to invite anger when the Lord's mood was poor was to remain out of sight and take a posture of obedience.
“Prepare a map.”
Thenardier gave an order, his face swelling with rage. At present, he was 42 years old. Despite that, he did not neglect his body and had a sturdy frame beneath his silk raiment. The anger emanating from his body would make a timid person weep.
After the servant left in a panic, Thenardier looked downward at the finely embroidered carpet covering the floor. He was quietly lost in thought; he had already regained his composure.
“Before it was Sachstein, now it's Muozinel...”
However, the scale was completely different.
While Sachstein dispatched three thousand troops and had them on standby, Muozinel had gathered troops in excess of twenty thousand.
It was an absurd miscalculation.
Thenardier had not originally intended to prolong the domestic dispute.
He wanted to quickly eliminate Duke Ganelon, his political rival. He wanted to receive an important position via his connection with the King's wife.
Afterward, he would have placed his son, Zaien, on the throne through an engagement with a woman of royal blood. The child between the two would have eventually become King.
--- That brat Tigrevurmud Vorn has ruined my plans.
Tigrevurmud Vorn had invited the Zhcted Army into the country and fought Zaien, killing him in battle. Both the assassins and the Vanadis Ludmira Thenardier sent were stopped by the Vanadis Eleanora.
In addition, the cornerstone of the defense along the western borders, Black Knight Roland, was gone. Though Roland disliked him, Thenardier knew his character well enough. So long as the King was present, the Strongest Knight would not be able to touch him.
For Thenardier, Roland was once a pawn which could not be replaced, since he had managed to maintain the stability of the western borders.
Thenardier stood with a lump in his throat. He did not notice how severe his countenance had become. The servant who returned with a map noticed his gaze and stood petrified.
“... What's the matter? Why are you just standing there?”
After Thenardier spoke in a low tone, the servant quickly ran to the ebony table in a panic and spread the map out. Thenardier paid him no concern and looked at the map with a cold gaze.
--- What could their aim be?
Muozinel Kingdom. It was a country difficult to maintain ties with.
There was no reason for them to send soldiers to other countries. Though five thousand troops crossed the southeast border from Muozinel years ago, it had long since passed.
“They must be in need of more slaves and came to get them.”
Naturally, Brune would prepare soldiers to intercept them. Though they had sent an emissary to protest, they received an arrogant response.
“We will enter your woods and get some fire wood. We're lacking materials to build a fire.”
Muozinel and Brune bordered one another. It was a natural course for them to have some association.
In the past, they had invaded both Zhcted and Brune, kidnapping people and looting their villages. They also had a fleet tailored to cross the sea so they could attack Sachstein and Asvarre.
Incidentally, none of the countries criticized their system of government. Every country, to some degree, had incorporated it into their policy. One example is selling off prisoners of war whose ransom was not paid in time as slaves.
Furthermore, they were a country that provided fine quality paper and goods like tea that many could not go without. Even if it was an inconvenience, there was nothing to do but to associate with them.
If their aim was to obtain more slaves, they would ruin the region near the border.
But with a count of twenty thousand, their purpose could not simply be to obtain more slaves. It was likely they were aiming for territory or a fortress. They must have been preparing to march toward the King's Capital.
“Though it's annoying... maybe I should work with Duke Ganelon.”
As he muttered to himself, Thenardier began forming a strategy.
First, through Prime Minster Bodwin, he would have all Knights from the Royal Capital head to the southeast. He would then split up his own troops. One group would remain on standby in the capital while the other would head south.
“Muozinel has ships. They will likely attack from the sea to the south. It will be a one-sided battle if I don't make preparations.”
Most of the aristocrats ruling the lands to the south were allied with Thenardier. It was necessary he defend them as their leader.
The Muozinel Army was to the southeast. Thenardier was the kind of man who could make calm headed judgments in a moment.
“While protecting the Royal Capital, I will explore the enemy's movements. If they head to the south or east, I will attack them from behind or from their flank. If they head straight for the capital, I will wait it out. If they spread thin, I'll attack their supply line.”
What concerned him was the third force in the country.
Tigrevurmud Vorn, his son's enemy, led an army made of Brune and Zhcted soldiers. Though the army was called the Unstoppable Silver Flow[Silver Meteor Army], Thenardier did not know that.
--- I have heard he has fewer than five thousand troops and his men are exhausted from their fight against Roland's Knights of Navarre. I wonder if he'll be forced to fight the twenty thousand strong Muozinel Army if they head along Zhcted's border to the east.
“Given their position as a known traitor, they will not ask for help...”
If they did, they would be the vanguard of the attack against Muozinel. They could then be restrained and beheaded by Thenardier's hand. Thenardier had judged this to be the most prudent course of action.
“Fortunately, our soldiers can move immediately.”
Before leaving the King's Capital, Thenardier gathered his soldiers from the neighboring territories. Though he originally planned to fight against Ganelon, contact was unavoidable.
Afterward, Thenardier sent a letter to Ganelon calling for military cooperation until the situation with Muozinel was taken care of.
“Now then... What will Ganelon do?”
A few days later, a force of nearly twenty thousand had gathered in Thenardier's territory.
The sky was blue and overcast; feeble rays of sunlight hit the ground. In the midst of winter, the men wore heavy fur coats. Their breaths fogged up as they exhaled. Thenardier divided his twenty thousand soldiers into two groups of ten thousand and headed south, leading seven thousand troops himself.
The remaining thirteen thousand troops were left in command of a man named Steid whom Thenardier trusted. He was a veteran with few losses who was well skilled in the military arts. His loyalty to Thenardier was high as well.
“Very well. Avoid unnecessary fights until we rejoin. It does not matter, even if Ganelon attacks. Retreat. Reduce damage as much as possible.”
“As you order, Lord Duke.”
Steid was a 33 year old man. He had short, fair hair and a downy beard covering his pale face. His height and build were average. His lack of expression hid any sign that he was leading a large army.
“It would be most ideal if we could take out Ganelon when his troops are tired from the battle with Muozinel, but I doubt things will be so convenient. Still, keep that in the corner of your mind.”
Thenardier did not believe the future would be so simple.
Making an appropriate decision according to the situation. He would only entrust Steid with more than ten thousand troops, so Thenardier entrusted command to him.
“Lord Duke. It is possible Ganelon has invited the Muozinel Army to invade the country. If that is the case, they will also know of what happened to Roland.”
Steid's doubt was denied with a shake of Thenardier's head. Showing a calm attitude here would help the soldiers settle down.
“That is not the case. If it were, the Muozinel Army would call out and join Duke Ganelon as quickly as possible. They would be obvious about it.”
If a noble as powerful as Ganelon joined with troops from another nation, the shock would be beyond just Tigrevurmud Vorn and the Zhcted Army.
It would paralyze the functions of the Royal Capital; all the aristocrats would become panic-stricken, and many would defect from Ganelon's lands and support Thenardier. There was no reason for Ganelon to ally with the Muozinel Army.
“Do not worry too much about any issues with Ganelon for now, but always take precautions.”
“Certainly. I will meet your expectations.”
Thenardier nodded to Steid who had kneeled on the spot.
Several days after he had left, Thenardier received a notice.
“... so Ganelon moved his troops.”
There was no response to the letter Thenardier had sent days before, but based on their movements, it seems Ganelon was unwilling to cooperate.
“Damned Ganelon. I've been looking for a chance to kill you since Roland died...”
An image of a map of Brune and the surrounding areas floated to Thenardier's mind.
---Was he waiting for either Sachstein or Muozinel to attack before he made his move?
Because Asvarre and Ganelon's territory to the northwest bordered one another, it was difficult, if not impossible, to establish a cease-fire.
If Sachstein or Muozinel dispatched their troops, it would be Thenardier who would move first to meet them, rather than Ganelon, simply based on the territories they governed.
“No matter. Our concern is Muozinel for now.”
Thenardier muttered to himself as a smile reminiscent of a ferocious carnivore floated to his mouth.
In Duke Thenardier's mansion, deep inside was an elderly man. His small body was wrapped in a black robe. He gazed at something without the need for light.
Meat from large beasts were torn off, the bones crushed. The area was covered in mud, the stench of decay was present.
However, the old man did not care about the smell permeating the room. Rather, he was looking at the small mountain inside the room.
It was the corpse of a VyfalWyvern, and it was known only to the old man. His name was Drekavac, and he had long served as Duke Thenardier's seer.
“Like I thought... It's different.”
Drekavac glared for a short time. He casually placed his hand on the lump of flesh and blood and gripped it.
“There is the power of the wind, but that's not all.”
An eerie smile covered his face, as his prediction had come true. Drekavac turned his gaze to the corner of the room where small golden eyes were.
“I need you to do some work, Vodyanoy.”
In the place the old man looked at, a question was uttered, the voice flickering in the darkness.
A young man with a bright smile sat on the floor with his back to the wall. He was of medium build and wore thick clothes with a fur collar and sleeves. His short black hair was loosely covered in a green cloth. He bit into a gold coin in his hand as if it were candy.
“It's not good for an old man to live in ease. You should run about on your own sometimes.”
“I must take care of the Dragons. Would you like to take my place?”
“Can't be helped. What do you need?”
The young man named Vodyanoy stood up as a gold coin was thrown in the air. It drew a beautiful arc and was calmly caught with the tip of his fingers.
“--- The user of the [Bow] has appeared.”
Drekavac's voice froze the air. Vodyanoy's smile disappeared and his eyes opened wide in surprise as he stared at the old man.
After a while, Vodyanoy's squint returned and his earlier smile was recovered.
“What do you want? Kill him?”
“He is not like the Vanadis who appear all the time. He is too precious to kill. Although I would like to capture him... Well, for the time being, you should know who I'm talking about.”
When the elderly man stopped speaking, Vodyanoy's body had already melted away. Soon, his entire body disappeared. Drekavac nodded in satisfaction.
“Now then, let's just watch. I wonder who will be the last to stand...”
As he muttered with a slightly happy tone, the old man turned his back to the Dragon's corpse and walked to the door.
The cold of winter deprived heat from the earth. A soldier woke up to the frigid weather and rubbed his hands together, moved his legs, wrapped his body in blankets, and shook as he watched his breath fog over.
If possible, he wanted to remain under the blanket, but that was unreasonable. After washing his face with cold water to wake up, he walked out of his tent to the fire.
Two people gathered and greeted each other as they warmed their hands over the fire. With the heat of a group, their bodies could finally move as usual at last.
“Please take my place a bit early.”
The soldier standing on guard spoke with a sleepy voice. This time, it would be his turn to take a rest. The man who held his hand up to the bonfire was reluctant to part, but he returned to his tent, donned his weapon and armor, and finally took the guard's place.
Territoire was in eastern Brune. Two thousand soldiers had built their camp at the westernmost end. Surrounded by a double fence, in the middle of the many tents, the BayardRed Horse Flag, the flag of Brune, and the ZirnitraBlack Dragon Flag, the flag of Zhcted, waved in the wind.
The Unstoppable Silver Flow[Silver Meteor Army] was made of both Brune and Zhcted soldiers.
It was led by a youth of 16 years, Tigrevurmud Vorn. Those close to him called him Tigre.
Though he was an earl who governed Alsace, one of the provinces in Brune Kingdom, his meeting with Ellen, a Vanadis of Zhcted Kingdom, greatly changed his life.
In order to defend Alsace where he was born and raised, and in order to defeat Duke Thenardier, who threatened the peace of his lands, Tigre began cooperating with Ellen. They had already experienced many battles together.
Zaien from Duke Thenardier's house, the man who attacked Alsace, was killed. To acquire Ellen's freedom of movement, they fought against the Vanadis Ludmira. Tigre also managed to repel the Black Knight Roland, leader of the Navarre Knights, who had appeared to punish Tigre for his rebellion.
He had received cooperation from Roland and was within a few days distance from Nemetacum, the lands governed by Duke Thenardier.
However, news of Roland's death and the approach of a twenty thousand strong army from Muozinel was a great shock.
Tigre sat alone in the tent for the General, dozens of maps scattered about his surroundings.
His dull red hair was a mess in various places. Tigre groaned as he stared at the maps. He had not slept at all, so his complexion was poor and he was completely exhausted.
He continued to think. He thought about how he should move from then on, with the invasion of the Muozinel Army.
--- We have two thousand here. They have twenty thousand. We can't just fight them. At least if Ellen or Lim were here...
He sighed, having considered a pointless thing. Ellen and Lim were excellent Generals. Whether he fought or avoided fighting, they would have appropriate advice that Tigre had not thought of.
Still, he had reliable people he could count on.
His father's best friend, Massas Rodant, and Viscount Augre, who was currently cooperating with Tigre. Both were veterans rich with experience.
Still, Tigre did not dare to consult with them regarding this matter.
--- We could strengthen our defenses in Territoire and have the people take shelter to the north in Alsace and Aude. The question is whether or not to wait for help from the Knights or local aristocrats.
Above all, thinking of peace within his territories was his duty as their leader. Tigre needed to protect Alsace, Massas had to protect Aude to the north, and Augre must, first and foremost, protect Territoire.
--- That's why I can't ask them.
If he asked, Massas and the others would say to abandon the deserts to the southeast.
There was likely no one living in that region, and, in the first place, Tigre had no duty toward that land. So long as there were no instructions from the King, there was no reason for him to defend the mountains outside his territory.
However, Tigre knew the King would not issue a command, and it would leave a bitter taste in his mouth if he ignored a crisis before him.
Tigre turned his head to look at the sword laid on the ground. It was a large sword decorated brilliantly with gold along its guard.
Durandal. It was called the [Sword of Invincibility] in Brune, but it moved hands from Roland to Tigre. He received it from the Black Knight as proof that he recognized Tigre, but he did not imagine it would never return to its rightful owner.
Tigre recalled his conversation with Roland.
Roland asked what Tigre would do should Ellen's troops begin an invasion. Tigre replied he would fight to defend the people of Brune.
--- Am I being conceited?
Tigre was neither a hero nor a brave man. He was simply a noble governing a small territory in the frontier.
Although he was here to fight Duke Thenardier, such actions were once unthinkable.
“Is it a good time, Tigre-sama?”
The voice of a young girl he was accustomed to hearing called to him from outside the tent. Tigre looked curiously toward Teita, the maid who served him.
“Teita? At a time like this...”
He started saying that, but Tigre noticed morning had already dawned. He could hear noises outside his tent.
The lamp near his bedside was still lit, most of its oil used up. It seems he had been worried too much and was lost in thought.
“You may enter. What's wrong?”
As he called out gently, the winter sunlight shined through the curtain as a girl with twin tails in her chestnut hair quietly walked inside. She was dressed in black with long sleeves and a long skirt down to her feet. A white apron covered it. She carefully held an earthen pot.
“Good morning, Tigre-sama.”
Teita's chestnut hair shook as she bowed. Her bright smile clouded over the moment she saw Tigre's face.
“... Did you not rest last night?”
Though Tigre thought to make an excuse, it would only end badly. Teita, who he had grown up with, would see through him in an instant and he would lose.
“I was busy with a number of things. Well, that's just how it is.”
Teita glanced up at him reproachfully as she slowly approached Tigre with a container held with both hands.
Inside was a soup from which steam was rising. There were thin slices of meat, carrots, and cabbage floating about. The moment the fragrant aroma hit Tigre's nose, his belly rang out as if in waiting. He and Teita laughed.
“First, please warm your body. I will prepare other things immediately.”
Even if he was covered in blankets, he was still cold. Tigre received the bowl with a smile and brought it to his mouth to have a taste. He brought his spoon down to eat the vegetables. His empty stomach was now active and raised a cry of joy.
“Such poor manners, Tigre-sama.”
Though Teita's face was stern, she spoke with a kind tone like a mother dotingly scolding her child. Tigre, on the other hand, satisfied his body with the heat and saltiness of the soup as he finished it off with a sipping noise.
Seeing Tigre happily satisfy his appetite, Teita smiled and left the tent with peace of mind. She soon came back with a basket and sat down next to Tigre, placing the basket gently on the ground.
There was bread and cheese in the basket and slices of smoked meat and potatoes. Teita poured wine into a bronze cup. By this time, Tigre had already emptied his bowl of soup.
He bit into the bread and cheese, ate the potato, and drank the wine in turns. Since it was still warm from the fire, both the taste and texture of the potato were pleasing.
When he finished at last, Tigre let out a satisfied breath.
“Thank you for the meal. It was delicious.”
“Before that, please wipe your mouth.”
While her words were once again only words of blame, she smiled bitterly as she gently stretched her fingers forward, wiping the potato still around Tigre's mouth.
Teita stared at her finger for a troubled moment, thinking about whether or not she should lick it, but her face turned crimson and she hung her head down immediately.
“You also have some bad manners... No, never mind. Thanks for getting it for me.”
Though he had an idea as to why the chestnut-haired maid was embarrassed, Tigre thanked her like normal. Being near her gave him a sense of security he could only find in Alsace.
Teita nodded and quickly put everything into the basket.
Tigre called to the girl who had her back turned to him. Teita had both a curious and awkward face as she looked back at Tigre. Her mind immediately became more serious and she sat upright as she noticed the intense atmosphere behind his words.
Tigre hesitated on how to begin the conversation. The two remained as they were for a short time.
“Teita, take separate action for the time being. Stay with Lord Massas.”
“... What do you mean?”
Though the words were within her expectations, Teita's voice still trembled.
“I, I came to take care of Tigre-sama, and yet...”
“It's dangerous. I can't afford it.”
Though she started to argue, when she saw Tigre's gaze, she shut her mouth. She looked down in silence. Tigre remained quiet, waiting for the maid's reaction.
Before long, Teita looked up.
“Will you return safely?”
Tigre answered with a strong yet quiet voice. Teita looked up with a distorted smile as she was in tears. Tigre stood up and hugged Teita softly before speaking once again.
“I promise. I'll come back safely – at the latest, by spring.”
Teita let out a tearful sound. In response, Tigre lightly pat her back and answered her question once again.
When Teita left the tent, Tigre grabbed his bow.
When their breakfast meals had been finished, there were soldiers maintaining the fire, others servicing their armor, and some amusing themselves with gambling. Lightly saluting the men, Tigre headed toward Massas and Augre.
“You're awake, Lord Tigrevurmud.”
A young Knight ran up to him. Though he had valiant features, there was no hair on his head. Rather than being ashamed, he boasted of it.
“Good morning, Rurick. I am heading to see Lord Massas. Are you coming?”
The Knight – Rurick – nodded immediately.
“I will follow you. By the way, I just saw Teita crying a moment ago...”
Tigre had a bitter expression as he ruffled his hair violently. His heart was heavy.
“By the way, as a soldier of Zhcted... How would you fight against twenty thousand enemies?”
Rurick understood immediately hearing this question. His eyes shined, and a fearless smile floated to his face.
“You think there's a chance?”
“I don't know.”
“I can't possibly convince the soldiers if you don't even know that. At least start from there.”
Rurick shrugged his shoulder with a tepid face. Tigre's mouth also distorted as he responded.
“We have two thousand. They have twenty thousand. If I say there is a chance of victory, who would possibly believe me?”
“Though people believe things because they are believable, they also believe because they wish to believe in you.”
As they exchanged this conversation, they reached their destination. After checking with the guards, Tigre and Rurick entered.
The two people were immediately at a loss for words.
The two old men were sitting down with maps and papers scattered about. A bucket of water they used to keep themselves awake had been placed to the side.
“... Oh, Tigre.”
The old man, Massas, with his impressive gray hair and beard and stocky body, called out to them. His hair and beard were disheveled and deep, dark circles loomed beneath his eyes.
Behind him, a lanky old man – Augre – sat without showing any signs of concern with his loosely worn clothes.
The two were also racking their brains, and, like Tigre, had not gotten any rest upon hearing of the incoming crisis.
“I came here to talk... but will you two be fine?”
Tigre asked hesitantly. The two simply smiled in response.
They both thrust their head into the pail of water and let out a groan. The water was scattered as they shook their heads dry. They then wiped their faces with thick cloth before looking back at Tigre.
“Yes. Go on.”
Both Rurick and Tigre stepped back after seeing this, but they could not possibly leave without saying anything. Tigre sat before Massas, his stomach full of butterflies.
“I will take command – I will lead the soldiers southeast.”
Cutting to the core of the matter immediately, Tigre stared at Massas and Augre. The two aristocrats looked at each other; Massas clearly looked sullen.
“... I thought you would say that.”
Though his face and voice expressed amazement, he could not hide his affection.
“First, tell us your reasons.”
“To survive. I will defend what I must protect.”
“Then shouldn't we strengthen the defenses within Territoire?”
Augre looked at him with a grave expression. The smile of the good natured old man was in no way present.
Tigre had thought it would turn out this way. He had also given this much thought. Even if he wanted to defend people he had no relation to, though it may pass as a beautiful thing, it was simply something beyond nonsense.
“If we are to strengthen our defenses... When twenty thousand troops approach, will we be able to hold out?”
“We can buy time. Knights and soldiers led by other nobles will appear. If we stop the Muozinel Army here, we will not have the strength to face Nemetacum.”
“There is a high possibility we will be defeated before reinforcements arrive.”
Tigre had thought of the most frightening situation because there was no way to eliminate its probability of occurring.
“There is also the possibility we will not receive reinforcements.”
Tigre turned to Massas with a look of surprise. This is exactly what Tigre feared. Augre, as well, laughed sarcastically as he played with something in his hand.
“Thanks to Thenardier, we are considered rebels. If we ask for help, he could easily criticize us. If we fight alone, we would help him exhaust the Muozinel Army.”
“So you thought that far.”
He could only be grateful that the two had already thought that far.
“It's important to think, but what matters most are the judgment and actions you take afterward.”
Massas put his hand on Tigre's shoulder.
“You've thought a lot about this, and you clearly wish to defend the people, but...”
Can you do it? Before he said those words, Tigre smiled and nodded powerfully.
“There is something I need to ask of you two.”
Tigre had the soldiers of Brune gather that afternoon.
Beneath the overcast sky, the sun shined with feeble rays of light. Tigre, with Massas and Augre to his right and left, told the soldiers that the Muozinel Army had broken through the southeastern border.
While a wave of shock and agitation spread amongst them, Tigre continued to speak calmly, hiding the tension in his mind.
“The enemy numbers twenty thousand while we have two thousand. Although they are within Brune, they are still a long distance away. You may think this unrelated to you, however... If we leave things as they are, the enemy will come soon; they will attack the villages and towns where you live.”
The atmosphere had become serious. Small noises could be heard here and there. Many feelings, including fear, danced about the grounds.
“I have a plan for victory. However, it will not work if you are frightened. If you do not fight with your full might, I can't utilize your strength.”
There was no plan; however, Tigre, despite the guilt he felt in his stomach, lied to give the soldiers hope. If they sunk into despair before the battle, they would lose before they could even fight.
Finally, Tigre threw unexpected words in order to reassure them.
“The Zhcted Army has said they will fight to the last man – So what will you do?”
The question brought about an instantaneous change. The smoldering will in the Brune soldiers was light anew, their fear blown away by their sense of rivalry.
If it is to protect his home, a soldier would show a will to fight like a wild animal. One raised a cry, spreading the feeling to the other troops. Tigre, Massas, and Augre, all clenched their fists unconsciously.
--- This response is better than I expected...
Tigre watched the soldiers of Brune in admiration.
Though the soldiers of Brune and Zhcted which composed the Unstoppable Silver Flow[Silver Meteor Army] were on friendly terms, the conflict between them was deeply rooted. Though it had been a problem for Tigre, this rivalry burned brightly and wiped away their fear.
Incidentally, Rurick had confirmed with the Zhcted soldiers before the speech was made. The bald headed Knight sent a response while patting his round head.
“Though I can't guarantee you an answer ahead of time, it should be fine.”
The one who carefully chose one thousand troops from the Zhcted Army to follow Tigre was Ellen.
They possessed a good will toward Tigre in their own way, and they were willing to remain when Ellen departed. He would not likely have much trouble convincing them.
When the charged noise settled down, Tigre declared with a loud voice.
“Everyone, please act immediately as you are ordered!”
After that, every soldier was busy making preparations to move. The soldiers received food and fuel for several days, and a cart was procured to carry provisions for many people. Every person brought their provisions to a large tent.
By the time the soldiers of the [Silver Meteor Army] finished preparations, the sky was dyed vermillion as the sun set in the western sky.
Tigre, Massas, and Augre united on their horses.
Massas and Augre wore thick winter coats on top of their armor. Tigre wore a leather vest and carried a quiver at his waist, and his family heirloom, the black bow, was attached to the saddle.
Though fatigue dyed their faces, their desire to fight surpassed it.
Approximately seventeen hundred troops were lined up behind Tigre. The ratio of cavalry to infantry in the [Silver Meteor Army] was about eight to two.
Though Tigre did not want to bring so many cavalry, if he had not hardened his defenses, he would only lose more troops. It was impossible for him to make this group consist only of soldiers from Alsace. In the end, Tigre avoided bringing soldiers from another territory.
Also, Tigre wanted to keep people he could absolutely trust beside him.
Massas and Augre followed closely behind with a few dozen and one hundred troops respectively. The remaining were injured and remained behind under the care of Batran and Teita.
Batran wanted to follow as well, but Tigre felt uneasy, feeling his physical strength might abandon him during battle due to his age.
“Lord, I am sorry. If only I had the stamina from when I was young...”
Tigre smiled and shook his head seeing the old man and maid who served him droop their heads.
“Look after Teita for me, Batran. I can relax if I know you're defending her.”
The old man regained his enthusiasm and said to leave things to him.
“You, too, Teita. I know you'll be busy, but don't overwork yourself.”
“I should say the same to you, Tigre-sama. Please... Return in safety.”
Though Teita retorted strongly, tears immediately appeared in her eyes.
“Now then, you two should get some rest.”
Massas spoke while stroking his gray beard, seeing Tigre's bow.
“Leave it to us. Stay firm, Tigre.”
“I'll say the same to you. Don't overexert yourself.”
While Augre encouraged him, Tigre bowed in gratitude once again.
While Tigre headed to the southeast to face the Muozinel Army, Massas and Augre would gather the Knights in the surroundings.
“Though it's unlikely we can stand up to an army of twenty thousand with only two thousand, I should be able to hold them up for a short amount of time. Sir Massas, Viscount Augre. Please, do what you can to make the Knights and aristocrats move.”
Tigre, as a 16 year old, would not be able to move others. This was especially true as someone who was thought to lead an insurrection. However, Massas and Augre who had vast amounts of experience might be able to persuade them.
There were many reasons to face the Muozinel Army.
Though the largest reason to move was to protect the citizens, the Knights and aristocrats would not be persuaded to move so easily unless someone took the lead. Also, the Muozinel Army was currently on the border and had not yet chosen a direction to attack in.
--- I learned this from Lim before.
“Lord Tigrevurmud, do you understand? To eliminate your opponent's options, you must dull their judgment. If you can successfully do this, you will carry an advantage into battle.”
He recalled Lim's antisocial face and voice during their conversation in autumn.
“But if you eliminate their options, doesn't that make it easy for them to take action?”
“Assume you force your opponent into a situation where they can take only three actions. It makes countermeasures simple. Furthermore, the enemy will be confused. In this state, he will most likely act in a way he should not. Your chances of success will only improve there.”
Tigre obediently expressed his admiration of Lim, who momentarily was drawn out of her expressionless appearance. Though her speech continued on in a severe manner, a gentle smile appeared momentarily.
“Though what I have told you is basic, don't forget it.”
Tigre did not remember learning much regarding strategy from his father, Urz.
There was still much for Tigre to learn that his father likely wanted to teach him; however, when Tigre was 14, he took over as head of the Vorn family when his father fell ill.
--- I'll hold the Muozinel Army off near the border.
After seeing Massas and Augre off, Tigre was followed by two people on horseback with looks of determination in their eyes.
One person was the bald Knight, Rurick, who took lead of the one thousand Zhcted soldiers.
The other person was in his mid-twenties. He was a young man with brown hair and bronze pupils. He was Viscount Augre's son, Gerard. He commanded the seven hundred Brune soldiers.
“I entrust my son in your hands. Use him as you see fit.”
Augre said those words as he introduced Gerard as he spoke to Tigre with a smile. Rurick, on the other hand, was not happy about it. After the parent and child separated, there was a clear sign of dissatisfaction in his face.
“If I recall, he was the impolite person who ignored Lord Tigrevurmud and simply praised our Vanadis-sama after the battle with Marquis Greast.”
“... Who did you hear that story from?”
Though Tigre asked that with a troubled face, there were only two possible candidates. When Gerard praised Ellen, only Lim and Tigre were present.
“Limlisha. Upon her departure, she said to take care about this man.”
“Well, he's the type Lim would hate... but Viscount Augre would not simply leave his soldiers in the hands of his son without reason. Though I can't say our relationship is great, I doubt it will be a problem.”
Tigre did not want to speak poorly of Augre's son, so he purposely said vague words.
Remembering the conversation at the time, Tigre looked over Rurick's shoulder. Sure enough, Gerard glared at him with dangerous eyes.
Though Tigre was also anxious, it was too late to say anything now, and he was lacking in time and people as it was.
Though their aim was to move quickly, the Unstoppable Silver Flow[Silver Meteor Army] dispatched troops to the surrounding villages and towns and reported to them that Muozinel would soon attack and to take shelter in Territoire.
In doing so, they would be able to gather maps of the area, purchase food and supplies they had not brought, and gain places to rest.
After several days, Tigre was in south Brune gazing over the Agnes province.
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