Zero no Tsukaima:Volume7 Chapter5
Chapter Five: The Ancient City of Saxe-Gotha
Roughly a mile out from the battlements at the city of Saxe-Gotha, at the staging area for the assault, the three hundred and fifty troops of the De Vineuil Battalion were awaiting the horn to signal the beginning of the attack.
Today, fifteen days after the landing, the allied army was finally launching their offensive.
Leading the 2nd Company, Guiche was shivering from head to toe, staring intently at the mist-covered city of Saxe-Gotha.
“Company commander, sir!”
The sergeant on guard at his side, Nicola, spoke in a soft tone.
“W-w-w-what is it?” Guiche stammered.
“You dropped your wand.”
Guiche immediately looked below at his feet and saw his rose-shaped wand lying on the ground.
He frantically picked it back up and shoved it into his chest pocket, while trying to maintain the solemn expression on his face.
“Company commander, sir!”
“W-what is it?”
“Although it might not be my concern, I still think it would be better for you to go take a leak first.”
Guiche immediately glared at him and exclaimed,
“I’ve already gone!”
“That’s good, then,” Nicola replied while grinning.
“There’s nothing to be nervous about. According to the reports in the past few days, the enemy’s cannons have all been destroyed by our fleet’s bombardment, and they’ve only deployed demi-humans to guard the streets.”
“Those d-demi-humans are incredibly ferocious, and their bodies are massive.”
“But they are foes that are incredibly easy to lure into traps,” Nicola remarked while watching ahead.
Guiche observed the small man carrying a musket. This was the first real battle he had participated in, and there was no one else he could rely on. With such thoughts in his mind, the man in front of him appeared to be larger than any lunkhead he knew.
“However… from where could we start our assault? The whole city is surrounded by those huge rock walls…”
Hearing Guiche’s concern, Nicola nodded his head.
“Someone’s going to come to ‘open a route’ for us soon.”
After some time idly passing by, a fleet of battleships appeared in the skies above. The ten battleships, by then all neatly lined up in a row, proceeded to bombard the wall with cannon fire. In the face of the floating battleships’ firepower, the enemy was completely powerless.
“Boom—! Boom—! Boom—!” Accompanied by the thunderous roar of cannon fire and thick clouds of smoke, the walls began to crumble and cheers could be heard erupting from the soldiers assembled at the staging area. Under the barrage of cannon fire, the walls along the battlements collapsed.
And then, appearing right in front of their eyes, was a group of huge mud golems.
“They must be golems made by Triangle-class mages.” Guiche thought to himself.
Since he himself was a Dot-class mage, he couldn't create such large golems. He looked up at them in admiration – Although they were slightly smaller than the mud golems created by Fouquet of the Crumbling Dirt, whom had once rattled the whole of Tristain, they were still huge. The mud golems, with a height of roughly twenty meters, solidly stumbled along, gradually drawing closer to the collapsed walls.
On the backs of the mud golems were flags bearing the family emblems of their respective creators, and Guiche, upon noticing a familiar emblem amongst them, instinctively yelled out loud,
“T-that's my brother’s mud golem!”
It must belong to his brother, since the flag fluttering on its back bore the emblem of the Gramont family, ‘A Rose and Panther’.
At that instant, with a whoosh, a large object of some sort flew straight towards the mud golems approaching the wall. Wham! One of the mud golems had its abdomen shot through, making a gaping hole. The golem immediately lost its balance, and collapsed into a heap onto the ground. The metallic lights shot towards the approaching golems one after another, felling many of them as they were struck by its fire.
“What in the world was that?” Guiche gasped.
“It’s a giant ballista,” Nicola replied immediately. “I’m afraid they're probably operated by the orcs. It's a three meter-long weapon based on the crossbow, capable of shooting giant bolts. If a human were to be struck by it, they would surely be smashed to pieces. But then again, they're not designed to be used against people.”
Guiche worriedly watched his brother’s golem. A bolt was sticking out of the golem’s leg, but fortunately, the mud golem still remained standing.
“Is the Company Commander... a member of the Gramont family?” Nicola asked, noticing Guiche’s excitement.
“I’m the youngest son.”
Hearing Guiche’s reply, Nicola's eyes opened wide in astonishment.
“That means you are the Marshal’s…! What a surprise! What brought you to a lowly musket battalion like ours? With your father’s name, whether it be the knights, or an elite regimental headquarters, wouldn’t you be able to join any battalion you desire?”
“If I were to use my father’s name, does it not mean that it is no longer because of my merit?” Guice replied as he looked to the front.
Nicola was unable to say anything, but after a while, he grinned and slapped Guiche’s shoulder.
“I like your kind of attitude, young master. Since that’s how it is, we ain’t returning back home until we win our merit and glory!”
Soon after, a squadron of dragon knights arrived as well. Heading straight towards the ballistae on the battlements, and with a combination of magic and dragon fire, they quickly silenced the ballistae.
Finally arriving at the foot of the collapsed wall, which had been turned into rubble by the cannon fire earlier, the mud golems began clearing away the rubble.
“They're making an entrance.”
His men would soon rush into the city through that entry. Guiche’s entire body began to tremble uncontrollably.
“…E-even though I would really like to say it's due to the excitement…it's most probably because of fear. Ugh…”
“Heh, being honest is a good thing, you will never succeed on reckless courage alone. But, you can’t be too cowardly either. Regardless, just let me take care of it.”
Nicola raised his hands towards the roughly hundred musketeers behind him. Another fifty or so pikemen acted as their guard. This company consisting of roughly hundred and fifty men, were the soldiers under the command of Guiche.
“Prime and load your cartridge—!”
The musketeers then leisurely loaded their barrels with bullets and gunpowder.
“Company Commander sir, might I trouble you to light this?” Nicola pulled a length of slow match towards Guiche.
Guiche nodded, and cast an ‘Ignite’ spell on the cord. Accompanying the sizzling noise of the slow match smouldering, a burning smell hung in the air. Nicola called a soldier over, and handed the ignited cord over to be distributed amongst the other soldiers.
“This is a slow match given by our company commander! Make sure that it is not extinguished!”
The response that returned lacked any sense of enthusiasm.
Rumble—! The golems cleared away the wall. At that moment, Nicola poked Guiche in the waist and said,
“Company Commander sir, let’s go.”
Raising his wand while still trembling, Guiche yelled out,
“G-G-Gramont Company, forward!”
The veteran musketeers followed behind with staggering footsteps. It was only then that Guiche realised – it was only his own company that was charging forward! The order to charge hadn’t been passed down from the top yet!
“Hey, Sergeant—“ He was about to voice his complaint, but stopped upon noticing Nicola’s calm and confident expression.
Once a company had begun advancing, it was almost impossible to halt their advance, and thus they could only continue moving forward.
A few seconds later, an order to “Charge!” resounded from the ranks behind.
Like a surging tidal wave, soldiers, knights, and assorted others all stormed in their direction.
“We're all old veterans after all. If we don’t start out a bit earlier, we won’t be able to keep up.”
Probably because they had set out earlier, Guiche’s company was the first to reach one of the breaches along the battlements. But a couple of knights swept past them, storming into the city.
“But we were the first to get here!” Guiche shouted as he prepared to storm inside, right before Nicole grabbed him.
Immediately afterwards, the knights which had just charged in were sent flying back out together with their mounts, landing in front of Guiche in a miserable state. It seemed that on the other side of the wall were club-wielding orcs, waiting for simple-minded fools like them to deliver themselves to their doom.
Enormous monsters with a size at least five times that of a human, the group of orcs spotted Guiche's party and immediately stormed towards them. Guiche remembered the time when he had gone treasure-hunting with everyone; how they had been ambushed by orcs like these as well. His bronze golems had been pummelled into oblivion by them back then.
A sense of dread welled up within him.
“Fire! Fire! Quickly, fire!” Guiche began to yell frantically.
“Don’t fire just yet! Company Commander sir! Use an incantation to knock over that guy furthest at the back! Quickly!”
Then, acting accordingly to what he had said, Guiche waved his artificial rose. Erupting from the ground below, a hand grabbed a hold of the leg of the orc at the back.
With a "Crash!" right in the middle of the narrow breach in the wall, the orc tripped over.
“1st platoon! The leading group is your target! Fire!”
Without delay, Nicola issued the order to pour volley fire onto the orc at the head of the approaching group.
The thirty or so musketeers fired their guns in concert at the leading orc, shredding it to a honeycomb. The other orcs at the forefront were felled onto the ground as well, blocking the advance of the group behind them. Not the type to let such an opportunity go, Nicola bellowed his next order without hesitation.
“2nd platoon! Fire—!”
Although the orcs were capable of waving their clubs about even after a barrage of bullets, they still couldn’t endure the impact of the dozens of bullets fired at such close quarters.
The orcs which were trailing behind decided to retreat, but between the narrow breach of the wall and the orc at the rear that had been knocked to the ground by Guiche’s magic, they were unable to move. At the front, they were obstructed by the corpses of their allies. Just as they stumbled and trudged through the corpses to charge through, they were greeted with the volley fire of the remaining musketeers.
The last few remaining orcs were then met with the charging pikemen and were quickly eliminated.
Staring at the twenty or so orc corpses on the ground, Guiche exclaimed in admiration,
While he instructed the musketeers to reload their bullets, Nicolas revealed a grin.
“It's because these guys are very simple-minded- once they spot the enemy, they’ll come charging straight at them.”
The veteran sergeant laughed as he patted Guiche’s shoulder.
“Company Commander sir, look, now you can earn the highest merit.”
And just like that, the ragtag Battalion demonstrated an extraordinary level of solidarity. Meanwhile on another front, was the solitary "trump card" of the allied army.
It was Louise and her familiar.
Saxe-Gotha was built upon a relatively high mountain. Encircled on all sides by a wall, a main road shaped like a five-pointed star was constructed within. Legend says that this was the first city built by the Founder on the continent of Albion; Whether this was the truth or not was impossible to know.
However, it was only the five roads of that pentagram that displayed that elegant geometric design, within it was a complex of countless side streets and disorderly alleyways. It was no different than the other cities that could be seen all over Halkeginia.
At the moment, Louise was running frantically through a small alleyway. Saito could be seen by her side with Delflinger firmly in his grasp, followed closely by the various members of the dragon knights in disguise.
Chasing them from their rear were ten or so huge trolls and fang-bearing ogres; both were giants that measured roughly five meters tall.
Fortunately, this being a small alleyway, the beasts seemed to be struggling to squeeze through. Because they were crashing through protruding walls and windows alike as they chased through, it took them quite a while. If it had been a wide open plain instead, Louise and them would surely have been caught up to in an instant.
To find out why Louise was running back and forth through the maze of alleyways within Saxe-Gotha, we would have to begin from the mission that they had accepted.
In the simplest sense, their objective coincided with that of the assaulting main force: Infiltrate the city from the opposite side. Their original purpose was to use "Illusion" to create a phantom army, thus plunging the enemy into disarray…
“Why did you have to suddenly yell out like that?! Hey!” shouted Louise as she ran.
Three hours ago, they had snuck into the city under the cover of darkness.
“Didn’t I already tell you? No matter what you see, don’t act surprised! Hey!”
“B-but... It's too big! That troll thing! That ogre or something!”
The thing is, Louise’s Void magic required an exceptionally long incantation period.
Just as she was chanting the incantation on a street corner whilst pretending to be preaching, an Albion noble responsible for patrolling went over to inquire:
“Who are you people supposed to be?”
“We are participants in the Founder’s Rite of Passage, which has brought us to this ancient city of Saxe-Gotha. We wish for Albion to achieve victory, so we are currently praying to the heavens.”
Although René had said so without blinking an eye, the patrolling magician, with a peculiar expression, still asked..
“Don’t tell me... you're spies sent by Tristain and Germania?!”
Louise hastily shook her head rapidly.
René also shook his head.
Then Saito, noticing the huge troll standing behind the magician, inadvertently cried out loud:
“It's so big! Just what is it?”
The magician immediately brought his face close to Saito, who had unwittingly cried out. “A very rarely seen face...”
I’m suspected, Saito thought, assuming a straight posture. The magician meticulously measured Saito up.
“Let me ask you - who is the General that commands the 2nd Army of the Holy Republic of Albion?”
Saito tensed up.
A general!? How am I supposed to know things like this? Looking around him, all he could see were the beads of the sweat on everyone’s foreheads. Crap, the success of the mission depends all on my answer. But... I have no idea what the general’s name is.
The enemy magician pressed his face closer, glaring fiercely at him, and said,
“What’s wrong? You don’t know? You don’t even know the name of the General who protects this place? Do you really hail from Albion? Spit it out!!”
Saito’s mind began plunge into disarray. And, having plunged into disarray...his mind was completely blank.
He made up such an answer. When it came to general’s names, he only knew this one.
“What Tokugawa Ieyasu?! Where’s he from?! Why couldn’t you give a more appropriate answer?!" shouted Louise as she ran.
“It’s not like there was another choice! He was the only one I knew!”
“Whatever, I won’t blame you for now.”
No, rather it was all his fault, but nothing could be done now. Louise continued,
“But why didn’t you just take care of them like usual? There was only a few of them!”
When Saito had replied “Tokugawa Ieyasu”, the mage was taken aback, before yelling “Suspicious persons!” and launching a surprise attack with the troll.
Saito was originally going to block their attacks... but was sent flying by the troll in one hit.
The overwhelming strength of the gigantic humanoid creatures... it was difficult to endure, even though he was Gandálfr. And there were almost ten of those monsters, to boot. Even if I can’t kill them, I should be able to at least resist their attacks... However, today’s Saito was not the same as his usual self.
“What’s wrong, Partner? Why don't I sense any enthusiasm from you?”
After blocking the enemy attack, even Derflinger noticed. Somehow, with Rene’s and other's magic cover, they were able to repel the enemy and run away. However, since most of dragon knights were Dot mages, they quickly ran out of magic.
The number of pursuers increased while they were trying to escape. Residents all along the street slightly opened windows and anxiously watched the chase.
At that moment, from the other side of the town, the explosive sound was heard. The main force's attack started.
“The attack started!”
Louise firmly primed her lips. Their mission to assist in the main force's attack by creating disturbance… failed.
“It’s because of you!”
She shouted at Saito, who ran next to her.
Saito muttered frustrated.
His body felt heavy.
Usually… if he gripped a weapon, his body felt light, like it just grew wings, his arms and legs moved freely… but now it somehow felt like it was bound with elastic.
Saito could not move faster than his usual self, though they still could fight… it was pointless. It was impossible to fight against a mage and his monster pal. They could do nothing but run away.
“Why are you so useless at most crucial moments? Hey!”
The moment when an irritated Louise shouted, an orc group came out of the corner of the street in front.
Trolls from the rear, orcs from the front.
They were completely trapped. There was no way to counterattack.
Rene wiped his lips.
“I wanted to die in the sky at least.”
“Well, I wouldn’t be happy dying from a crash.”
The demi-humans started closing in… but then, looking up into the sky…
Boooooooooom! - the group of orcs ahead blazed up suddenly.
Rene and others shouted. Saito looked up into the sky as well.
The dragon knight swooped down from the sky, shooting spells and magic breaths, driving the enemy away.
“Our colleagues from the 3rd Company," Rene shouted. Saito looked up into the sky.
Dressed up in white clothes, Julio was riding the first wind dragon. There were ten knights. Five went after trolls, while the other five landed around Saito and the others.
“Quickly, get on!”
Julio shouted. Saito, Rene and the rest hastily jumped onto the dragons. After confirming that all members got on the dragons, Julio lifted up.
“We saw you being chased from above,” Julio explained.
Louise, feeling relieved, patted her chest, and said thanks to Julio.
“Thank you. We survived.”
“Don’t thank us yet.”
Discouraged Louise’s shoulders dropped.
“We… failed the mission. No good…”
Julio pointed to the ground.
“Indeed. There doesn’t seem to be that much of a change in the general situation.”
The power of Tristain-Germania united armies was huge. The Albion army that consisted only of the demi-humans, which, with their large bodies were not able to fight in tight streets, were now retreating.
“But, differently from the scouting mission, the powers used in diversion weren’t of much use…” Julio said and Louise looked down.
“But I cannot understand using such cute girl like you as a ‘tool’. Well, I am not a soldier.”
Saito, sitting behind Louise, intervened.
“You are not a soldier?”
“I am priest, a servant of god, not army.”
Saito ruminated Julio’s words. What a sly guy – he thought, but didn’t voice it out.
“That’s right, I think so too,” Saito nodded.
"Hey Louise! Are you all right? Why aren’t you complaining? Will those generals be angry for us failing the mission?"
However, Louise declared clearly.
“I wish. Seems not everything is possible. ”
Saito, hearing Louise’s words, fell silent, feeling odd again.
The Germania-Tristain united army took over the city of Saxe-Gotha in about one week from the beginning of the attack.
Damage was negligible. Huge demi-humans were not capable of moving well in the urban area suited for humans, and were defeated in even one-on-one battles.
The town was occupied smoothly, due to the residents' cooperation as well. The town residents felt a grudge against Albion's army as it took all their supplies, and one-by-one they cooperated with the allied forces. They informed the allied forces about the buildings where the demi-humans lurked and fought together.
And, at the end of the fourth week of Wynn's month, during day of the week of Ing, in the central plaza of Saxe-Gotha, the town liberation was declared.
All the City Council members of Saxe-Gotha, including the Mayor, the citizens, and the governing staff of the Tristain-Germania united army were gathered.
Going up on the platform constructed at the center of the plaza, General of the united army, Supreme Commander de Poitiers greeted them.
“Thus, I declare the city of Saxe-Gotha liberated. I give the limited self-government right to the Saxe-Gotha City Council under the supervision of Tristain and Germania governments.”
A shout of joy bolted up from residents who were nursing a grudge for the present Albion government.
Among them… Saito was staring at his left-hand.
He gripped Derflinger with his right hand.
Then… the runes slightly shone. He could not feel the same dazzling light as always. It felt as if his batteries started running out.
“Not good, mate.”
Derflinger muttered. Saito nodded.
“It’s in bad condition.”
Since the recent feint mission, he had such a feeling. His body felt heavy, his movements slow. No power.
“It’s over for me, partner.” Saito sighted.
“Don’t say that. Gandálfr's power lies in the strength of the heart. Partner‘s heart was shaken. In other words, you lost your motivation.”
“I do not know. Who do you think should know more? Not me, the problem is in your heart, partner. Well, I can guess though...”
“It’s about your noble sweetheart. Haven’t I told you before? Strong emotions are the only source of Gandálfr’s power. Now you started to mistrust your master. You doubt if your master is worth protecting or not. Your emotions were shaken. And the power left.”
“Mage and familiar. When they trust each other, their power doubles. Legendary ones are not really different.”
Saito thought absent-mindedly.
The way it is now, I cannot fight, right?
An uneasy thought crossed his mind…
But I guess, it doesn’t matter, Saito stole a quick glance at his master.
Louise was having a long talk with the priest from Romalia.
Though Saito saw it, he ignored them. Like when he saw her close to Wardes, a heavy feeling of helplessness covered his shoulders.
What about it… If Louise is taken away by him, you won’t be angry? He thought like that. Something buried deep in the heart, started to tremble.
Saito's feelings sunk further when thinking so, he was wrapped by deep helplessness.
The great general on the platform, was giving a fiery speech. As if Albion was already defeated and the victory of his army was doubtless.
These words entered through one ear and left through the other:
For what I am fighting here?
Not long ago, the reason was clear.
Louise is the reason.
The girl, whose sight makes my heart throb…
However, what if it is a girl who rejects my love as well?
What if Louise doesn’t want to know me anymore?
If you are not loved, why are you still hanging around?
I do not know.
I do not know?
No… the mind refuses to admit that reason. That feeling.
He could not allow for Louise’s attitude to hurt him this much.
Meanwhile, on the other side, Louise, who was in a long talk with Julio, felt absent-minded as well. She looked at Julio. He was a pleasant sight. There wasn’t a girl who would not be attracted to him.
However, she only had her eyes set on her familiar. Occasionally, she stole quick side-glances at him. Saito looked in this direction and looked hurt.
Heee, now isn’t that jealousy?
Familiar’s habit is jealousy now.
Hee, heeeeeeeeee, Louise sang a song of victory in her heart.
Though a smile threatened to break through, she desperately tried to suppress it.
Now get a slight grasp of what I was feeling all this time, she muttered in her mind.
“Ah, yes! W-what?”
“Excuse me. I am being called, I will have to leave you for a moment.”
Julio elbowed his way through the crowd until he stood in front of the General on the platform. Julio’s pretty face made Saxe-Gotha’s women sigh. "Isn’t this officer handsome?" "He is not an officer but a Priest?" One could hear whispers all around.
It looked like in front of General de Poitiers, not only Julio, but some other nobles were lined up as well.
After confirming that all nobles gathered up in front of him, the general twitched his mustache.
“Eeh, I introduce these brave men to you all. They fought in Saxe-Gotha’s liberation war, like legendary heroes they stood their ground with weapons in their arms. Only by their efforts this marvellous victory was achieved. Thus, as a general authority, I present them with the Medal of White Hair Soul.“
Next, the officer call the recipient’s names in order.
“De Vineuil Independent Musket Infantry Battalion, 2nd Company Commander, Guiche de Gramont!”
Louise’s mouth dropped.
“Guiche?” as in Guiche, their Academy of Magic classmate?
“He and his men, bravely fought in the streets single-handedly. Moreover, they were the first to clean streets of orcs. The mission was a success, and they freed up more than a few dozen of houses. Applaud him and his men!“
Thunderous applause rang. Guiche, with a wide yet somewhat shy smile, accepted the reward on the neck. A young person, with a similar face to his, came out and clung to Guiche.
"Psst, I heard that's Field Marshal Gramont’s youngest child." "There now is the second son…" "Nooo, could it be 'The Lion’s' child…" rumors flew.
Louise felt strange. That stupid Guiche is rewarded? Can’t be, I wonder what Montmorency will say when she hears this! Maybe change her opinion a little?
Apparently, it was an elder brother that clung to him. He didn’t look comfortable while receiving his older brother’s blessings.
Somehow she envied Guiche.
Blessed by a family and acknowledged by them…
Though Louise military achievements were much bigger than Guiche’s, things like this could not be done publicly.
However, once this war ended… when the peace comes… she will tell her family about her large military achievements and loyalty to the mother-country.
Maybe then they will change their opinion about her. But for now, she cannot stumble and take even the slightest credit for her own achievements.
When thinking she remembered Saito’s mistakes. The feint mission sneaking into the town failed thanks to Saito. She watched him, while throwing occasional side glances.
The user of legendary power. A mistake in using them and they got themselves in a pinch yesterday. Saito should be more prudent, Louise thought.
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