After cleaning up the mess left by the defense of Zabrela from the enemy army’s attack, we immediately start marching to the south.
「To be ready to organize the army only one day after such a hard battle…… what a surprise.」
「Yeah. As expected, they are highly skilled.」
The soldiers’ footsteps maintain a steady beat as the army marches, showing no shred of disorder in their lines at all.
My 105th division army is also doing fine besides a few casualties here and there.
「Hehehe, I tried to s.n.a.t.c.h the shoulder pad from the enemy’s armor.」
「Nice. I couldn’t find a replacement for my broken sword so I had to bring an axe from the engineering corps.」
「A spear grazed my head, you see. Having no hair on one side would look bad so I just shaved everything except the middle…… there’s this strange sense of liberation, and it feels good. I can’t get enough of it. It’s a smooth ‘kohyaah’ feeling.」
I’m getting more and more barbarian vibes, but I guess it’s fine as long as they can fight.
「But the overall losses suffered by the army should not have been small. Why are we so concerned about proceeding to the south……」
「Did you say something, rapist?」
After getting a sharp glare from Celia, Yakov stands down dejectedly beside me.
With suspicion that Yakov s.e.xually a.s.saulted the female knight, Celia’s att.i.tude towards him has toughened to the extreme.
Getting the female knight to explain would have cleared things up, but that can’t be done.
In return for her hospitable treatment and release from custody, she consented to me and Yakov embracing her, with c.u.mming inside the only thing she didn’t allow.
However the impact from Celia’s kick to Yakov’s a.s.s made him fill her hole with seed.
The female knight screamed out how that was not part of the agreement and made sure to give Yakov an earful of cursing.
Even now, she’s crying in the wagon used for transporting prisoners and in no state of mind to be questioned.
It goes without saying after seeing that, Celia’s opinion of Yakov got harsher.
「I’ll have Yakov atone for his mistake later, so just focus on the battle in front of you for now.」
「……right. It shouldn’t be long until we reach our destination, the city of Karis.h.i.+n. That’s if things go smoothly though.」
Celia makes a troubled face.
The distance to the city isn’t too great. However there are many things to worry about.
「Half of the scouting cavalry have yet to return and we’re facing strong interference. There is no doubt an enemy squad is near.」
「I’m also curious about the defeated enemy pulling back submissively. It’s not like they were annihilated so it seems unnatural for them to run away at full speed.」
「That must mean they have a rearguard.」
Yakov keeps pace with me again. Celia glares at him again, though this time he only moves back half a step.
「They also have the same number of forces as us, close to 100 000. If they have a rearguard to rely on……」
A sigh comes out of my mouth. If we just took control of the city, destroyed its facilities and went home, we wouldn’t have to go through all the trouble, I don’t know why we’re forcing our way forward.
「I wanted to tell command headquarters in White City of the circ.u.mstances too, it’s just the lack of time hurts.」
「The enemy fleet might come as soon as the fog lifts……」
「It’s pretty tough having to always expect the enemy.」
Everyone’s thinking negatively.
「No need to worry. If things get bad, I’ll carry you home with me.」
Brynhildr jumps on Schwartz.
I told her to put some armor on, but she said “it stinks of sweat” and refused so she remains in plain clothes.
Her gorgeous blonde hair fluttering in the wind is a beautiful sight, yet also creates a sense of discomfort.
「Hahaha, how rea.s.suring for the general to be protected by such a pretty lady.」
I’m sure Yakov was joking when he said that, but Brynhildr can actually carry me and break past the enemy.
「If that time comes, please take Celia along too.」
「Don’t leave Pipi please.」
「Take Natia too!」
When I mentally picture Brynhildr, myself, Celia, Pipi, and Natia stacking on top of each other like a family of turtles, I smile wryly. It’ll be strange to say the least, for the small Brynhildr to be at the very bottom.
「Well, to ensure it doesn’t come to that――」
Before the sentence could be finished, a trumpet sounds. It’s the signal for the entire army to be on alert.
「――we can only do our best. Everyone, get ready for battle.」
Yakov and Celia mount their horses.
I was also going to jump on Schwartz, but stop after putting my hand on his body.
Schwartz neighs, as if asking me “aren’t you getting on?”
「I don’t want you to fall over partway.」
Even though Schwartz’s injury is not a deep one, his movements seem slightly off.
There’s no telling what could happen if I swing heavy weapons while riding him..
「Pipi, get on Schwartz. It shouldn’t be a problem since you’re so light.」
Pipi bounces on Schwartz’s back with a spring in her step. Schwartz exhales and moves to the rear.
When I take a glance behind me, I see him clearly walking in a strange manner.
I guess he was putting up a strong front when I was riding.
「Hmph, you’re just a perverted horse.」
I check on my longsword and Dual Crater. Both don’t have a single scratch on them.
The Dual Crater has its usual faint reddish glow, whereas my dragon longsword also appears to be dyed slightly red having sucked up the blood from all the battles till now.
「It looks like it can get even more red.」
I have a feeling this fight will be tough.
Still, I can’t hide the smile on my face.
-Third Person POV-
The Day Before. Albens: Garland Empire Army – Command Headquarters
Messengers and staff officers run hurriedly around in the camp.
「The Federation has landed in Zabrela with an army of 100 000! They’re looking to conduct a full-fledged reverse landing operation!」
「The 6th Division army tried to recapture the city and was defeated. The main force, the Red Dragon Knights, have suffered major losses and will need time to reorganize――」
「The enemy is heading further south towards the city of Karis.h.i.+n!」
「They have a group of barbarians, you say? Don’t give such nonsensical reports!」
The Supreme Commander of the Imperial Army, Zaphnes, closes his eyes with his arms folded, not saying a word.
The staff officers beside him all look worried.
「What is General Sekrit doing, letting the enemy land 100 000 soldiers under her nose!?」
「Apparently they crossed the river in the fog. ……it’s enemy land after all. They have the locational advantage.」
「It can’t be helped that they landed. Let’s disperse them promptly.」
「We have to hurry the reorganization of the sixth division!」
Zaphnes opens his eyes right when the staff officers panic.
「The eastern army should have pulled back to the west of Karis.h.i.+n」
The staff officers stir.
「I- I guess if you order it now, the eastern army might be able to make it having fallen down to the south coast.」
「Isn’t that army preserving their strength and waiting until spring to invade again? If we exhaust them now, it will hinder our ability to counterattack in spring. Our overall strategy won’t be affected even if we abandon a city like Karis.h.i.+n.」
Ever since the Federation committed to counterattack during the winter season, the Empire has suffered consecutive losses.
The Imperial soldiers were inadequately equipped for the harsh Federation winters and also ignorant of the weather phenomena.
Their military strength was slowly being worn down to a point where the Federation surpa.s.sed the Empire in terms of number of regular army soldiers.
The weakening of the military slaves meant to fill the holes was also strikingly clear due to the poor equipment quality.
Clas.h.i.+ng head on in the current situation would invite the possibility of suffering a fatal defeat.
Which is why the headquarters under Zaphnes avoided all-out battles and retreated to the south coast where it was relatively warmer, waiting for spring to come so they could attack again.
Fortunately, Sekrit’s still healthy fleet kept the Federation’s counterattack at bay and made it impossible for them to cross the river in large numbers. ……that was true until now.
「No effect, you say? Fool! The premise for our plan to counterattack is if we maintain complete control over the south coast. If they land and invade deep into that territory, they can overturn all of that. More importantly, the morale of our soldiers won’t last.」
「They were able to regain their composure because of the river in between.」
On top of being exposed to severe weather conditions, they’ve been losing battle after battle, so the soldiers’ morale could crumble at anytime.
The reason they haven’t completely fallen apart was due to the trust in their safety border, that the Federation won’t come to the south coast of the river because of the existence of their still formidable fleet.
「We can’t let the enemy stay in the south coast. We’ll invest the largest force possible and intercept the enemy. Send an express messenger to the eastern army. The 200 000 of the eastern army will crush the opposing 100 000!」
After Zaphnes delivers the order in an a.s.sertive tone, he mumbles something quietly to himself.
「Sekrit…… how long will you try your best? When you lose, I will also be finished.」
Near Karis.h.i.+n. Landing Army.
I rub the stiff-faced Celia.
「Yakov, find a way to inspire the soldiers.」
「……please don’t expect too much.」
Figuring out a solution to that is part of your job.
「Natia, you can go back to Zabrela. In fact, you should go back if possible.」
To be honest, I want Natia to go back, but she shakes her head silently. I don’t have time to persuade her either.
Enemies as far as the eye can see are approaching us from the front.
All the other commanders are wearing serious expressions too.
「That’s…… the enemy’s eastern army. So they came back this far?」
One of the commanders confirmed their ident.i.ty after looking at their flag. He says it in a strained voice.
「If the entire eastern army is here, that means they easily have over 200 000 soldiers!」
So they have double our forces at the very least.
Not only that, we antic.i.p.ated a battle around the city so we aren’t really equipped for a field battle.
「Celia, what would you do if you were the commander?」
I try asking.
「……until I have a clear picture of the exact number, a decision can’t be――」
「Scouting report! The total forces are over 200 000 regular soldiers! Moreover, 50 000 military slaves are positioned in front!」
The scout’s announcement covered Celia’s voice.
「――I would retreat. It’s impossible to do battle on an open field against an enemy with more than twice the number of forces. Plus, the enemy may get reinforcements while we won’t.」
「I guess. I was thinking along the same lines…… but it will probably be impossible.」
By their name, the eastern army most likely came from the east. Meaning they approached our southward bound army from the left.
A white smoke coming up from the enemy formation is billowing towards our rear.
Their cavalry are probably circling around behind us.
Even if we want to face them, we don’t have many cavalry since we came by boat.
「Our only choice is to fight. We’ll do our utmost.」
As expected, the 105th division soldiers are trembling.
Yakov’s attempts to encourage them doesn’t result in much of an effect.
While we’re busy with that, the commander’s orders were given.
「The 105th division will be placed on the left wing to engage the enemy military slaves! They may be less skilled and have shoddy equipment, but they will still charge with all they have regardless of appearance, plus they are great in numbers. Be careful!」
It looks like he saw how we struggled with constructing defensive formations during the last battle.
That’s why he matched us with opponents who we can have a melee with.
The commander is supposed to have a good grasp of the situation, so how come this is the result?
Both armies slowly close the distance to each other.
The difference in number makes it seem like our army is partially being surrounded and we’re practically forced to receive the enemy’s attack.
As for us, we will be facing off against the seedy group of military slaves.
「Rout the enemy, show your loyalty to His Majesty the Emperor! Charge――!!」
The military slaves let out a shout in response to their commander’s orders and surge forward.
Their armor is so insubstantial that they appear half naked and they’re only equipped with a simple small s.h.i.+eld and a one-handed sword.
「So those are the military slaves……a sacrificial squad.」
They’ve formed at least a horizontal line and are running at us in a straight line.
The sound of nearly 50 000 people running in our direction is incredible and naturally unnerves the ally soldiers.
It can’t be helped. I’ll give them a boost again. I’m bad at this though.
The soldiers look at me.
「They have 50 000! That’s a lot…… what portion of that do you think are women?」
The ratio of male to female soldiers in the Imperial army should be higher than that of the Federation. A flash of inspiration seems to light up the faces of the ally soldiers.
「Just 10% is already 5000! And look carefully! They’re half-naked even though it’s so cold.」
They did well not to die from the freezing temperatures. The ally soldiers start murmuring.
「There are 5000 half-naked women! Repeat after me!」
「There are 5000 half-naked women!」
「There are 5000 women!」
「There are 5000 women for us!」
The enemy has finally reached us.
I don’t see any reinforcements, arrows or cannons.
「Capture them and warm their bodies with yours! Let’s go!」
Right at the moment of impact, the ally soldiers push their s.h.i.+elds forward altogether.
With a loud crash, the enemy’s vanguard gets repelled.
The enemy continues to push forward, even stepping over the fallen vanguard.
I’ve heard about this. The military slaves breakthrough enemy lines by fighting without any regard for their own allies.
But I won’t let them do as they please.
「Begin the attack!」
As I shout, the ally soldiers break defensive formation and rush forward with their swords.
The enemy’s faces were dyed with surprise. They probably didn’t think their attack would be met with an attack.
The military slaves seem to become quieter and less energetic from this unexpected situation.
「I’m moving forward!」
「Aah, again! Geez, I can understand how Leopolt-san feels!」
I jump forward into the frontlines wielding my s.h.i.+eld and longsword.
Using the s.h.i.+elds held by fellow soldiers as a stepping stone, I leap into the middle of the enemy.
I swing my sword at eye-level at the same time as my landing. With the blade purposely turned up, my sword didn’t cut into the enemy’s bodies, but instead acted like a club and sent nearby enemies flying, even taking out enemies further in the vicinity.
「If you’re packed so closely together, I can mow down all of you at once.」
By the time I said it, my sword was swinging back in the opposite direction, still at eye-level but this time with the blade properly pointing sideways.
Two people fall down after losing their heads, while a lucky one who wasn’t in reach of my sword stands stock still in shock.
「They were cut.」
I raise my sword and cut open the stomach of the lucky man, spinning my body to sweep the enemies around me as well.
Those hit by my s.h.i.+eld had their heads split open while those cut by my sword were torn in two from the waist down, all of them letting out beast-like screams as they collapse.
「W-what on earth……」
「A monster jumped in our midst all of a sudden!」
「Who are you calling a monster!?」
I dive in the middle of the wide-eyed and stunned enemies.
With one thrust, my sword penetrates the chest of an enemy. I couldn’t pull it out of his body after it plunged in all the way to the hilt, so I let go of my longsword and punch another enemy instead.
The military slaves aren’t wearing helmets so my fist lands squarely in the man’s face, caving in his nose and popping both eyes out of his skull.
An enemy approaches me with a sword on my right side which is not currently holding a weapon.
I easily dodge his attack reliant on power, letting the sword hit the ground before grabbing his sword and taking it away from him.
It’s a shabby one, but still a sword. I smile at the enemy.
「So you’re lending it to me? Thanks.」
「Y-you’re welco-…… gyaaahーー!!」
I cut the man’s neck with his sword. Next, I block an incoming attack with that same sword and right after I split his head open, the sword breaks.
Wow, that was a c.r.a.ppy sword. The military slaves sure have a hard time fighting with weapons like this.
I forcefully shove the broken sword into another enemy’s neck.
During the period where no more enemies are coming at me, I casually grab my longsword and pull it out of the enemy it was stuck in
「What a guy.」
「B-but if I run away, my family will……」
Three more enemies, after looking at each other and nodding, decide to charge at me all at once.
I also charge at the three of them and step in for a swing with my sword.
The one who raises his sword gets his hand cut off, while the second one’s thrust only grazes my shoulder before hitting nothing, getting a headb.u.t.t from me in retaliation which caves his face in.
The last one…… is charging at me with eyes closed tightly. What is that supposed to be?
I easily sidestep the sword and stick out my foot to trip the enemy.
That was a cute voice. Oh, so this one’s a woman.
「Throw away all your equipment and jump into our lines. That way, you won’t die.」
I really wanted to comfort and persuade her gently, but I don’t have that luxury with so many enemies around. Sorry for using such a harsh tone.
To make up for that, I’ll treat you nicely in bed.
The female military slave abandons her weapon―― not just that, she removes all the armor exposing half her body and becomes completely naked before jumping into my ally soldiers.
She may be the enemy, but there shouldn’t be anybody in the 105th division who would attack a naked woman. That’s how I taught them.
I should have said to abandon you weapons instead of abandon your equipment. Hopefully, she doesn’t catch a cold.
「Look, I caught a girl. You guys, hurry up and advance forward!」
After I urge them as such, they respond with a war cry and begin attacking fiercely.
We’re ahead in both momentum and equipment, plus Celia is doing a good job taking command compared to the enemy commanders only screaming to charge forward.
In order not to be surrounded, the army repeatedly moves back and forth to foil the enemy’s attack, stepping out to attack when the enemy visibly is out of breath.
With me also swinging my sword in the frontlines, it should help to turn the tides of battle, even if only a little, in our favor.
Unfortunately, there are too many of them.
The enemy’s attack creates an unnecessary amount of idle soldiers on their side, yet we aren’t able to finish the battle as we’re fighting while being engulfed by 50 000 soldiers.
「They just keep coming after I cut them down.」
I take a big swing with my sword and tear through a densely packed group of close to ten people.
「They’re really annoying!」
Yakov keeps swinging his sword too, cutting down three people trying to get up.
「I’m running out of arrows!」
「I’ll the specially reserved ones too.」
Pipi shoots arrow after arrow, each one hitting their target precisely and defeating the enemy.
Natia is…… rather than an arrow, she threw a gla.s.s bottle in the middle of a whole bunch of enemies.
The strange fumes emitted by whatever was in the bottle caused nearby enemies to fall over and vomit. She’s made some weird concoction again.
Nevertheless, the enemy keeps pus.h.i.+ng forward endlessly.
This is a familiar scene……that’s right, just like the time I faced off against a horde of zombies.
「Well, they go down after you cut them a little――」
I cut off the arm of one soldier who falls to the ground screaming.
「And you sometimes get lucky, so they’re better than zombies.」
I knock away the sword of a female military slave and yell for her to run towards the ally lines.
「alright! Just don’t kill me!」
The naked slave runs off in tears.
LIke I said, you don’t have to completely undress. You’ll catch a cold.
「There’s no end to this…… but it looks a little better over there.」
Celia’s looking toward the other armies.
「It’s incredible over there.」
Heavily armed infantry from both sides are clas.h.i.+ng with each other while large bolts as well as giant cannonb.a.l.l.s fly overhead.
Looking carefully, I can see small sc.r.a.p pieces of flesh, impossible to tell whether they belong to an ally or enemy, accompanying the soaring cannonb.a.l.l.s.
The enemy heavy cavalry unit is being warded off by the ally spear unit in their defensive anti-cavalry formation.
We have the greater ratio in terms of numbers, but facing off against a fully armed regular army is not an easy task.
I land a front kick on an enemy trying to attack me while I was looking away.
As the enemy coughs up blood violently, I put my foot against his chest and focus my weight on that leg, crus.h.i.+ng his ribs and killing him.
「I can’t just be a spectator either. Let’s concentrate on the enemy in front of us.」
The grueling battle has just begun.
-Third Person POV-
Side Story: Runaway Chronicles③ – Late at Night. Estelle Book Rentals.
「No good, we’re completely surrounded……」
Estelle peeks out the gap of a window. Countless torches can be seen outside.
「……mmm, Leopolt-san probably stepped in. Is this the end?」
Tristan carefully puts a bookmark between the pages of a book he just started to read and sighs.
（I can’t talk my way out anymore…… if this person forces his way in, I might not be able to get away scot-free.）
After commenting mentally, Estelle speaks up.
「……let’s get out through the window in the bathroom and escape to the back alleys. Hurry.」
（Aah~aah, so this is how things will go in the end. I’m sorry, father. It looks like this will be the last day for the shop.）
「Hmm, if Leopolt-san has stepped in, I don’t think that kind of gap will be open though.」
Tristan peeks out the small window in the bathroom. He couldn’t see any lights in the alley.
He wiggles the shutter of the window enough to make a sound. It was quiet enough that it could be thought of as the work of the wind.
Suddenly, he spots movement in the shadows of the alley. Perhaps it was because nothing came out from the window, the movements stopped and it became quiet again.
「I knew it. They purposely left the back open, waiting for us to jump out. It doesn’t look like we have an escape route.」
Tristan forces and smile and starts gathering his belongings.
「Unfortunately, this is the end. Man, it was nice while it lasted.」
「Ah…… you can’t……」
（If the security unit has come in full force, you definitely won’t be let off so easy! You’ll be thrown in jail for a long time or worse……）
Estelle stares at the resigned Tristan.
She can’t do anything against the security officers. Still, that wasn’t based on theoretical knowledge.
Getting impatient, the men outside knock on the door loudly.
「This is the security unit! Let us check the inside of your rooms again! Open the door immediately!」
「Alright, alright, I’m coming out now.」
Tristan unlocks the not-very-durable door.
It was at that moment when the door opened and the burly men of the security unit stepped towards Tristan.
Estelle rushes at the security officers.
The soldier doesn’t budge from being pounced on by an unarmed city girl.
However the soldier was slightly taken aback by Estelle clinging to him out of nowhere.
「What are you doing!? Let go! Don’t you understand what let go means!?」
「Run! Tristan, run for it!!」
Despite the soldier trying to pull her off, Estelle clings desperately even while being swung around.
「Err, I don’t know what to say. You don’t have to do that, I’ll be fine――」
（I know I can’t escape after doing something like this. Even so, I can’t just let him be taken away in front of me!）
Tristan isn’t sure of what to do with the frantic Estelle. That wasn’t the case for the soldiers.
「That’s enough, girl! If you’re not going to listen――」
Another soldier appears behind the one Estelle was holding and unsheathes the sword at his hip.
「!? Not good! Sto――」
（Ah, I’m going to be cut down…… though I wonder why. I…… have no regrets.）
Estelle’s eyes reflect the dull glow of the soldier’s sword.
Federation VS. Empire – Comparison of Military Forces (Current + Losses = Max Mobilization. In the case where numbers don’t match, it means there are spare forces.)
Olga Federation 「South Coast Battle In Progress」
Military Strength – Current: 1 190 000, Max Mobilization: 2 550 000, Losses: 1 360 000, Civilian Victims: 970 000
Military Strength – Current: 1 480 000 (480 000 of which are military slaves), Max Mobilization: 3 100 000, Losses: 2 100 000 (Military slaves not included)
Protagonist: Aegir Hardlett. 24 years old. Early Spring.
Status: Goldonia Kingdom Margrave. Great Feudal Lord of Eastern Area. Mountain Legend. Friend of the Dwarves. Friend of the King of Aless. Dragon Slayer Hero.