By Melisande’s death, the curtain lowered on the revolt.
It was just at this time that Badouin and Viscount Augre grasped the situation. Though they woke up to the roaring sound made when Tigre shot the arrow with the “power” from the black bow; because they tried to understand the situation first, they were late in taking action.
The two men, who were shocked, hurriedly finished only the minimum change of clothes and came to Regin’s bedroom. Regin had moved there in order to issue instructions.
Cloths smeared with medicine were pasted on the Princess’ cheeks and arms, and bandages peeped out from the gaps of her clothes. But, Regin’s expression was dignified and there was nothing except only her disheveled hair that indicated her fatigue.
Towards the two old retainers who apologized with faces where their hair and mustache were disordered, Regin shook her head.
“As you can see, I am safe, so there is nothing to worry about. More than that, I am glad you two are safe.”
And then, Regin talked with the two men at once about things to come.
About whether they should announce that Melisande had caused a revolt which was suppressed, and that she had lost her life. Among the noble feudal lords, there would probably be people, who would think that Regin had pinned a crime on Melisande and assassinated her after a power struggle.
“Even if there is some danger, I think that we should announce it.”
Regin said so. Melisande’s death would give a blow to Sachstein which was in contact with her. Though it wouldn’t reach the point where they would give up on further invading and retreat, it would certainly be of help to Tigre and company who would fight against them from now on.
“What will we do about the people doubting it?”
“We will just ignore them.”
Regin quickly replied.
“Many soldiers who worked in the royal palace suffered for them. They lost their friends and colleagues. If they hear the story from them, they will eventually understand what Melisande and her men did. I have no business with people who are not going to investigate even at least that much. Even so, if they still try to say something──”
As a quiet anger boiled in her pair of blue eyes, Regin continued.
“I will regard it as an insult towards those who have protected me and take suitable measures.”
Badouin and Augre solemnly straightened their posture and once again bowed to the Princess.
When Regin’s safety was ensured and Badouin and company became able to take command, there was nothing that Tigre could do in the royal palace. Even so, Tigre asked Mashas whether there was anything he could do, but the reply was as followed.
“You, who don’t even know where which room is, are bound to get lost. Take a break.”
Though his words were cold, there was warmth in the old Earl’s look as he was worried about Tigre. As there was also the fact that he was emotionally exhausted due to Auguste’s death, Tigre decided to obediently follow Mashas’ words and sleep.
Different guest rooms were respectively prepared for Tigre and Titta. This was because Tigre’s room was in an awful state as there were many corpses scattered about and neither Tigre nor Mashas nor Regin permitted letting Titta rest in the room next to such a room.
While Tigre and company were sleeping, in the royal palace anybody without exception who could do something was pressed with post-processing.
They had to bury the soldiers who had lost their lives and also had to arrange informing their bereaved families. It was also necessary to calculate the get-well money (compensation). They also had to wash away the blood stuck to the walls and floor.
The corpses of the people, who followed Melisande, were naturally buried in a different place.
There was one corridor where terrible traces of destruction, as if it was hit by a giant or a dragon coming out of a fairy tale, were displayed; but its inquiry was postponed. What should be given priority was treatment and restoration.
Including Baron Celpet who tried to kill Tigre, the people who took part in the revolt were all caught and imprisoned.
They gave the name of the person who planned this revolt, and that person was also apprehended. It was Earl Delbord, an old-timer who successively held the positions of secretary and councilor, and had worked in the royal palace for more than 20 years. As Badouin and Mashas were close to him, they were unable to hide their shock.
“Why did you do such a foolish thing?”
To Mashas who painfully frowned and asked, Delbord answered without changing his expression.
“I can understand neither Princess Regin nor Earl Vorn.”
Regin, who, although she was the late King Faron’s child, had a past of being brought up as a Prince and now, was governing Brune.
Tigre, who, while being a person from Brune, excelled at the bow, defeated Duke Thenardier although he was a small noble, had a lot of close friends in Zhcted and even distinguished himself militarily in Asvarre.
“I could still understand Lady Melisande. Serving someone that I cannot understand is……”
Though Delbord said no more than that, Mashas understood what he wanted to say. Seeing off the retreating figure of his old friend who was taken to prison, Mashas sighed.
“Her Highness Regin was going to compromise eagerly. Like Auguste, there were also people trying to escape from the contempt to the bow. What will those, who have accumulated experiences as they got older, do if they cannot act like them……?”
Mashas, who muttered so, turned 57 this year. His strength grew as years gone by, and the disposition and belief to never forgive compromise or concession inside him as well.
Delbord was probably holding some sort of conviction and disposition regarding Brune’s traditions. Because those who were supporting his plan were few in numbers, as for Mashas’ feelings, he wanted to find at least some hope.
When the dawn broke and the sun which rose from the east sky began to go down to the west, Tigre visited the graveyard outside the capital along with Titta.
In a place that the temple, which believed in the War God Triglav, managed, the people of the Calvados Knight Squadron including Auguste were buried here.
It was a quiet graveyard surrounded by greenery. In front of a brand-new gravestone where Auguste’s name was carved, Tigre and Titta prayed to the gods for the peace of Auguste’s soul.
The funeral services have not yet been held. Because bodies decay/rot and might become the origin of an epidemic, they had to complete the burial first.
“Tigre-sama. Auguste-san said that he leaves Regin-sama to me……”
After they left the graveyard, Titta’s eyes were swollen from crying. Though she did her best to not cry before entering the graveyard, she wasn’t able to bear it when she saw Auguste’s tomb.
Tigre, not returning straight to the royal palace, stopped by at a suitable open space and took a break with Titta. He bought a drink at a nearby stall and gave it to the chestnut-haired girl. It was something which mixed smashed strawberries in light wine and adjusted the taste with honey.
“It was really surprising when Auguste became a knight.”
While looking at a distant place, Tigre reminisced about old days. Among the people of Alsace, those who became knights could be counted on the fingers of one hand. In the first place, there were few people who intended to become a knight. As far as Tigre knew, it was only Auguste.
Though there was the fact that in order to become a knight he went to Urz’s mansion for a period of time, Auguste looked after Tigre and Titta very much when they were children.
In addition, when Tigre fought against the Muozinel army two years ago, Auguste had rushed to help him.
Moreover, this was a story he’d heard from Regin, but it seemed that Auguste had used crossbow. If he was still alive, the Calvados Knight Squadron might have become a special group.
Tigre muttered his name. They were in the royal palace in order to protect Regin. And, they had splendidly accomplished their duty. Tigre was in a position where he had to praise their brave fight.
But due to the feeling of loneliness spreading in his heart, he could not readily spin words of praise. After a long silence, Tigre only muttered “thank you”.
As they stayed in the open space for about half a koku, Tigre and Titta returned to the royal palace before the sunset. There were a lot of things that the youth had to do.
As he renewed his feelings, Tigre headed to Elen’s room with Titta.
When he arrived at Elen’s room, other people have already gathered. Mashas, Gerard, Elen, Lim and Valentina surrounded a big circular table in the center of the room. Several maps and documents that looked like data were put on the table.
“I’m sorry to have kept you waiting.”
“I also came just now. So don’t mind it.”
Elen answered so. With the six people including Tigre, they would talk about how to fight against Sachstein from now on. Mashas left all the matters regarding the royal palace to Badouin, Augre and others and decided to devote himself to coping with the Sachstein army.
The tools to serve tea were put in a corner of the room, and with practiced hands, Titta used them and served tea in silver cups for the number of people here.
Waiting for the silver cups to be put on the table, Gerard opened his mouth first.
“The Moonlight Knights army is currently 10,000 strong. Here, the feudal lords’ combined army of 18,000 and an alliance force of Knight Squadrons of 7000 will be added. All of them consent to coming under Earl Vorn’s command.”
“My 3000 soldiers from Osterode have arrived at Nice, too; they are all infantry. I do not know whether they will be of assistance, but please use them.”
Having said that was Valentina with a silver cup in one hand. Because Osterode was in the northeast of Zhcted, it took them time to come down to here.
With this, the Moonlight Knights army became a big army of 38,000.
“I’m thankful that the number of allies has increased, but will there be enough food and materials?”
Elen asked with her arms folded. Gerard nodded with a smile full of confidence.
“Please, rest at ease on that point. We will prepare the necessary amount even if there are 50,000 soldiers.”
The statement of this dark brown-haired secretary was by no means big talk/bragging. In the civil war two years ago, he regulated the supply of food and materials of the Silver Meteor Army and even undertook its distribution.
“I leave it to you then. So, how are the enemy’s numbers and movement?”
To Tigre’s question, Gerard answered without looking at the documents at hand.
“Estimating it to be a somewhat larger quantity, please think that they numbered about 50,000.”
The room’s atmosphere was tinged with a sense of tension. It was 12,000 more than their side (Brune). Mashas asked.
“Wasn’t 50,000 the number of when the enemy broke through the western border? I heard that they’d fought twice since then though.”
“Those two times were large-scale battles at that. Afterwards, we received another three reports of the fights against the Sachstein army.”
“Then, Gerard. Are you saying that the enemy fought five times and all those times were always landslide victories?”
To Tigre who made a look that said he couldn’t believe it, Gerard nodded with a serious face.
“I will briefly explain.”
Saying so, Gerard looked around the people surrounding the table and began to talk.
It was nearly 20 days ago when the 50,000 Sachstein troops invaded after crossing the western border.
At the border with Sachstein there was the Navarre Fort, and the Navarre Knight Squadron attached there to protect it.
After the death of Roland who’d acted as their leader, the vice-leader Olivier gathered the knights as the acting head.
Even if they had lost Roland, they boasted of an outstanding strength among the Knight Squadrons existing in Brune. Until now, Sachstein had set skirmishes several times, but they repelled them each time and didn’t let them approach Brune’s lands.
“──But, the Sachstein army crossed the border and got in. What happened to the Navarre Knight Squadron? Did they lose?”
When Elen asked, Gerard uttered a surprising answer.
“They didn’t fight against the Navarre Knight Squadron. It seemed that they ran through a wasteland greatly deviating from the highway which the Knight Squadron doesn’t keep an eye on at midnight.”
The Navarre Knight Squadron noticed the enemy’s invasion at dawn. However, they were not able to chase the enemy.
One reason was that, as a result of scouting, they knew that the enemy was a large army of 50,000. Although the Navarre Knight Squadron had increased their ranks, their numbers did not reach 5000.
Another reason was another Sachstein army had showed up near the border.
Though they were few in number, they had prepared castle siege weapons and showed signs to begin attacking immediately should the Navarre Knight Squadron divide their forces from the fort. Sending messengers to various places was the best they could do, as the Navarre Knight Squadron were unable to move from the fort.
“It seems that the 50,000 Sachstein troops which invaded are all cavalrymen, the enemy commander’s name is Leonhardt Von Schmidt. It is said he is a noble of Sachstein and a General.”
“Just now, you said all of them are cavalrymen, but is that true?”
Elen knitted her brows. The silver-haired Vanadis, who has several times organized her troops with only cavalrymen, thus knew well the hardships to do so. Considering her experience, unless certain conditions were gathered, it was impossible to organize an army of only cavalrymen which would invade an enemy territory with a number of 50,000.
One of these so-called conditions was that the soldiers riding horses should be able to take enough of care enough of their horses.
Just making them eat fodder and drink water was not enough. They should be able to treat the horses’ wounds, ascertain whether or not they would contract disease and, depending on the situation, separate from their horses. They should also be able to put horse shoes into the horse’ hooves, and adjust saddles.
Furthermore, there was also the problem of food and water. Without means to supply them (horses) regularly, the army would eventually stop moving due to starvation and thirst.
Therefore, in the case that Elen moved only cavalrymen, she set them to a short term decisive battle. If not, then she knew that both humans and horses would overexert themselves. In the case that they moved for a long term, they would have to secure water and food, people with blacksmith skills and people who can look after horses would have to campaign as infantry.
Gerard strongly nodded at Elen’s question.
“I also took a look at the reports several times and asked for the story from those who took part in the battle. So, there is no mistaking it.”
Gerard returned to the explanation. The Sachstein army, which broke through the border, advanced to the east while attacking and pillaging villages and small towns.
“They have probably received a map of the western part from Melisande. The targets for their pillaging were too precise. And, they don’t approach forts and cities with solid defense.”
Tigre was perplexed at Mashas’ explanation.
Why didn’t the enemy aim for the forts or cities? Wasn’t it wise to capture a fort or a city and go ahead while being based there?
Anyway, the Sachstein army advanced to the east and confronted the allied forces of noble feudal lords, who governed Brune’s western part, and the Knight Squadrons, who protected a fort located at an important position of the highway.
In contrast with the Sachstein army of 50,000, the Brune army was smaller with 30,000. But, Brune’s side had the geographical advantage. The Redon plains, which became the battlefield, was an area with gentle ups and downs and by the cavalrymen’s charges which Brune excelled at, they should have been able to trample down the enemy.
Not to mentioned, the Brune army’s morale was high. On the day before fighting against the Sachstein army and the day before that, they had sheltered several hundreds and thousands of people wandering in the plains. They were people who had encountered the Sachstein army’s plundering, were robbed of their food and escaped after their villages and towns were burnt.
“Their pillaging was strange though……”
Gerard cocked his head in puzzlement as to say that he couldn’t understand it.
“Apparently, there were almost no casualties. The Sachstein soldiers stole the food and burnt to ashes every house after gathering the residents in one place, then sent them off altogether saying to go the Brune army.”
“Does it mean that they didn’t kill people?”
Not only Tigre, but also Mashas, Elen and Lim made expressions saying that it was unexpected.
They didn’t know at all what the Sachstein army was thinking about. It was hard to understand that they didn’t intend to injure the people even though they were pillaging.
“For now, let me continue with the story. Our army met the Sachstein army in the Redon plains, but they were defeated in one battle.”
Repressing his feeling of anger, Gerard explained.
It was a complete defeat. In contrast with Brune’s side that suffered more than 10,000 deceased and a number of injured that was even greater; the Sachstein army’s deceased and injured altogether did not reach even 1000.
After quenching his throat with a silver cup, Gerard presented the documents put on the table to Tigre and company.
“It seems that at first, both armies clashed head on. And that’s when the Sachstein army started to retreat gradually and they (Brune’s side) advanced taking advantage of that, two detached enemy units appeared at their rear before they knew it.”
As they were confused at the enemy attack from the rear, the enemy at the front rapidly drew near and the Brune army was surrounded in the blink of an eye. Then, the encirclement was gradually narrowed and they were killed.
“On a flat plain, the enemy’s detached forces could at least be seen though.”
Elen looked puzzled with her arms folded. Mashas said while taking a look at the documents.
“In the report, it seems to be only written that they’d suddenly appeared, eh…… Anyway, so it means that this, dozens of days ago, became the first battle against Sachstein.”
Then two days later, the Brune army somehow managed to reorganize. The noble feudal lords and Knight Squadrons that didn’t make it in time for the battle of the other day also joined; altogether they made a large army of 30,000.
Meanwhile, the Sachstein army, while repeating their pillaging attacking towns and villages, advanced to the east. It was not like they were not passing through the highway, but since they circumvented to the North and South, it was far from a straight route.
Why didn’t the Sachstein army advance straight ahead to the east? Though the people who thought so were not few, their doubt was drowned out by the huge anger that their allies had.
Though they did not understand the Sachstein army’s thoughts, it was a fact that Brune’s land was damaged by them. For the noble feudal lords whose territories were thoughtlessly treaded on, it was an unforgivable act; and for the knights too, it was a problem involving their honor.
After having sheltered the citizens who escaped just like the time of the previous battle, the Brune army which took up position in the field of Laval bid defiance to the Sachstein army.
“And they lost. In exactly the same way.”
Gerard shrugged his shoulders and sighed.
As expected, two detached forces of the Sachstein army appeared in the rear of the Brune army.
“If they didn’t notice the second time either, then it’s hard to imagine that they failed to notice it. What I can think of immediately is that either they had prepared the detached forces from before the battle, or made them take a great detour outside of the battlefield.”
Lim said while comparing the map with the documents. Mashas agreed.
“There is nothing to consider other than that. If there was a forest or a hill aside, I don’t think that they could detach units without the other side noticing on a plain without anything obstructing one’s view. It would be right to think that they’d let the detached forces act independently from the beginning.”
“If that’s the case, then that Schmidt is quite a troublesome opponent.”
Elen groaned with her arms folded. If they made a bad move, they would be targeted by a detached force circumventing from outside the battle and destroying every single one of them. Even if it didn’t turn out as such, when they finally arrived at the battlefield, it wouldn’t be unusual that they would be of no use as the situation would have completely changed.
But, they (Sachstein) used it effectively twice. So, the Sachstein army’s supreme commander Schmidt was definitely a formidable opponent.
“What kind of person is that Schmidt?”
When Tigre asked, Gerard answered to the extent that he knew. He was a Sachstein noble in his forties and he seemed to be a man whom the King had a deep trust in.
Sachstein frequently caused fights along it borders with the neighboring countries such as Brune and Asvarre, but whenever this man led cavalrymen, Brune was always forced into hard fights.
“He is rumored to the best in Sachstein when it comes to the command of cavalry. In this war, we were made to realize that that rumor was true.”
Regarding the third battle afterwards, Gerard did not talk about it very much. This was because it was something like the Sachstein army only eliminating a sporadic resistance as they advanced while repeating their pillaging.
The Brune army which attacked numbered from about 5000 to 6000 and Schmidt, too, without the need to use detached forces, kicked them about by a charge from the front.
From the latest information, the Sachstein army seemed to be in a place approximately six or seven days from the capital Nice.
“But, I don’t understand.”
Elen groaned with folded arms.
“Nearly 20 days have already passed since they got into the territory of Brune, right? What do they do about their food and materials?”
“It seems that they secure water from a river or lake and provide food and materials by pillaging.”
Gerard answered with a dejected expression. Tigre and company looked at each other. Mashas stretched his hand to the map on the table and traced the March course of the Sachstein army drawn on the map with a finger.
This March course was something which connected several points where the enemy was detected and was drawn with guesses, but still it could only be described as nonsense.
If they had advanced to the east straight through the highway after breaking through the western border, they would have already arrived at the capital Nice. That is, even if they were to spend a few days in the battle against the Brune army which was going to obstruct their March.
The marching speed of them, who moved with only cavalry, was double that of an army of infantry. For example, the Sachstein army could travel the distance, which the Moonlight Knights army covered in two days, in a day.
However, they advanced as if disregarding the highway and it was just as if they were moving on a whim, such as when one wondered whether they would suddenly head to the north, they suddenly went south.
“When I saw this figure/graph for the first time, I wondered why those guys are advancing in such a way. Even though with their speed, they would arrive here at Nice in less than ten days if they advanced straight through the highway.”
“So that’s it……”
A groan which mixed understanding with anger leaked out from Tigre’s mouth.
Because the whole Sachstein army was composed of cavalry, they could move at an extraordinary march speed.
Tigre thought so, but that thought was one step from being enough.
“What brings about their tremendous speed is only because they are a group of only cavalry. In addition to that, this is because they replenished their supplies on-site.”
The marching speed of an army took into consideration the infantry as the standard. When considering the cavalry as the standard, only the cavalry would stand out and all aside from them would be late; because the speed of the transport squad, which carried the food and materials, was not different from the infantry’s.
In order to consider the cavalry as the standard, one must detach/separate not only the infantry, but also the transport squad. And so, the enemy had implemented that.
With this, Tigre and company understood the reason why the enemy didn’t occupy a city or a fort. For them, a city or fort could not become a capture target. After all, the siege weapons were only obstructive baggage for them.
In fact, even if Brune abandoned a city or a fort entirely, the enemy would probably ignore it. They intended to challenge only an open field. And they had confidence that if it was an open field, they could unconditionally win.
“I see. So that’s the reason why they move around consistently. There is a saying that, “when a certain fish doesn’t keep swimming, it’ll die”, and it looks like they are doing the same thing.”
While unfolding her arms and extending her hand to her silver cup, Elen sighed. Valentina suddenly chuckled when she looked at Elen.
“Eleonora. I think that in the enemy’s pillaging, there is one other intention aside from resupplying.”
“An intention aside from resupplying……?”
Though the silver-haired Vanadis knitted her brows, she nodded as she immediately understood.
“They incite the anger of the Brune army by repetitively pillaging, bring them into battle and then win. Are they inducing estrangement through repeating that?”
“Yes. If I was the enemy commander, I’d do so. Doing so without killing the territory people is definitely for that reason, too. After all, no matter how strong they are, the people who survived would disperse.”
Valentina said something frightening with her smile as is.
If they attacked a town or village, the Brune army would appear to repel them. And after having defeated that Brune army, they would make an offer to the noble feudal lords ruling the western territories, and their territories’ people.
Saying “rather than following this powerless Kingdom that protects you, how about following us?”
The noble feudal lords would not agree immediately. But, what would they do if villages and towns within their territory were attacked and robbed one after another? When they think that the country called Brune and the ruler called Regin are not reliable, would they nevertheless stay loyal to the kingdom?
As for the territory people, they would without doubt show a more easy-to-understand reaction. If they weren’t imposed with heavy taxes or there wasn’t excessive tyranny, then they wouldn’t show that much interest in the change in ruler.
“If I have to add one more thing, the reason why they let go the people alive might also be, while making the other side (Brune’s side) take time to shelter those people, to investigate the Brune army’s position using the territory people instead of their scouts”
Tigre grieved. The man called Schmidt, who led this army, was not just strong in battle. In a different meaning from Kreuger, he was a frightening opponent.
“In other words, we must absolutely win in the next battle. That’s what it means, right?”
With an expression which could not hide his nervousness, Tigre looked at Mashas. The old Earl nodded with a stern face.
There was no doubt that one of the things, which held on to the heart of the noble feudal lords who fought in Brune’s western part, was Tigre’s existence. Even excluding his fame as the young hero, it was only Tigre leading the Moonlight Knights army that won after fighting with the Sachstein army.
So, the Moonlight Knights army’s defeat might not be just one defeat, but the defeat of Brune itself.
“But, how do we fight?”
Elen cast her gaze at the map on the table with a difficult expression.
“There are only plains everywhere from the capital to the west. I won’t say that there are hardly any mountains and hills, but there’s no guarantee that the enemy would come if we move troops forward in such places (mountains or hills).”
“Valentina, do you have any plans?”
Tigre called out to the black-haired Vanadis who was looking over the documents in silence since some time now.
Valentina looked at him with a smile. He hasn’t yet talked with her about last night’s incident. There was no such leisure.
“There is a way where we can easily fight though.”
Valentina said so with a smile while drinking the tea in her silver cup. Though Tigre reflexively looked at the black-haired Vanadis with a cautious look, he had no plans for the moment. While mentally preparing himself, he prompted her to continue by nodding.
“It is to pour poison into the river which they will use.”
Valentina said in a tone as if it was nothing.
Elen and Lim threw gazes filled with unpleasant feelings at her, Mashas was at a loss for words as he opened wide his eyes. Gerard was dumbfounded and Tigre too unintentionally clenched his fist. Particularly the three Brune people were sensitive to the word “poison” because of last night’s revolt.
Warding off their reactions with an unconcerned face, the black-haired Vanadis continued.
“All of them being cavalry means that they helplessly depend on horses. In that case, we should aim at the horses. It’s simple, isn’t it?”
“But, how many towns and villages do you think will receive damage if we pour poison into the river?”
Mashas said as he was unable to bear it anymore. Even towards the words of the old Earl, who has lived more than two times more than her, Valentina argued without her complexion changing one bit.
“Is it not better than suffering a sixth defeat?”
“Vanadis-dono. It may be a rude way of speaking, but are you able to propose such means because here is Brune?”
Mashas said with a bitter expression. It was a remark that he would absolutely not speak of usually. Even so, he said it probably because he imagined his feelings of disgust towards the means of poison, and the towns and villages which would receive damage due to that.
“──Lord Mashas. I think that you have said a little too much.”
Although finding it regretful, Tigre rebuked the old Earl in a slightly severe tone. If he did not say it now even unwillingly, only the fact that Mashas had slandered Valentina, who was a comrade in arms, would remain.
Mashas revealed a startled face and apologized to Valentina.
“I am sorry. I have said too much.”
“No. It is natural that a person from Brune thinks dearly of the people and the land of Brune.”
Valentina shook her head with a smile as to say that she didn’t mind it.
“But, actually what will we do?”
As to change the atmosphere of the place, Elen leaned forward.
“They are people who have defeated an enemy of 30,000 twice. We’ll lose if we don’t take any measures.”
“If they aim for the capital, there is the option of closing all the gates of the ramparts enclosing the capital and bringing it into a siege battle though.”
Lim stated her opinion. Although, when looking at her blue pupils in her unsociable face, one could clearly understand that she didn’t think it was an effective mean. It seemed that she tried saying that in order to change the atmosphere of the place just like Elen.
“If we do that, those guys will probably repeat their pillaging by attacking villages and towns at hand. And Brune will become a burnt field.”
And then, as Valentina had said just a little while ago, the Sachstein army would probably ask the noble feudal lords and the territory people. About which one was more comfortable to follow.
Tigre grieved. Kreuger was also a formidable enemy, but Schmidt was a frighteningly troublesome opponent. Precisely because there were these two men, Sachstein would bring itself to invade.
“I guess trying to probe the enemy’s attitude just like the time with Kreuger would be difficult.”
“In the worst case, there is still a possibility of waiting and seeing what happens. Besides, our movements and habits might have already been grasped.”
“If the enemy is only cavalry, then what do you say about thinking of a means to stop cavalry’s pace?”
Lim proposed as such. Tigre nodded, and the six people respectively gave their opinions.
“How about sprinkling oil on the ground, lure the enemy and attack them with fire?”
Mashas made a wry face at Elen’s suggestion.
“In this season, the danger of attacking with fire at this place is great.”
Brune’s lands were often described as “like having spread a vivid green carpet”. The gentle plains of ups and downs made up the majority of the territory. Moreover, it was spring now.
If one were to imprudently set fire there, the flames would spread in the blink of an eye and even the one who set the fire would be unable to suppress it.
Although Tigre handled fire arrows in the battle with Kreuger, it was simply because the target was the top of a small hill and he judged that there was no fear of it becoming uncontrollable that he shot them.
“Shall we prepare a stockade?”
Lim said. A stockade was something where long stakes with sharp tips were lined up side-by-side. The stakes were not vertical, but inclined forward diagonally. It was in order to skewer the enemy who charged.
Among anti-cavalry weapons, it was often used; but there was a shortcoming. First, because each stake was heavy, they were not easy to carry. In a wide battlefield such as a grassy plain, on top of detouring the enemy, they might even obstruct their allies’ movement.
“It’s difficult. The enemy is adopting a way of fighting that fully uses their mobility. If we find a battlefield where we can use the stockade……”
“I don’t know very well the weather of the west, but can we expect rain or fog?”
“It’ll be difficult until we reach summer. Still, we’ll starve to death if we wait until summer.”
Mashas ruefully shook his head at Gerard’s words.
“Lord Mashas. Are there any wetlands when going from the capital to the west?”
It was Tigre who asked this time. While listening to everyone’s opinion, one idea popped into the youth’s head. Mashas stroked his gray beard with a wondering face.
“It’s not like there’s none, but…… If we were to fight in a wetland, it’ll be difficult to fight for our cavalry, too. Besides, the enemy has a map. They won’t take the bait.”
Tigre looked around at the five peoples’ faces and explained his thought/idea.
“If it’s that much, I can prepare it before you leave the capital.”
Gerard answered so. Elen also nodded with a smile.
“It isn’t bad, I guess. I’m in.”
Lim showed her agreement by nodding silently, and Valentina too said nothing. Although Mashas slightly groaned, in the end he breathed out and said this.
“I got it. Since it doesn’t seem like you’ll jump out, I guess it’s fine.”
Mashas was teasing Tigre about the fact that he rushed in alone during the battle against Kreuger. Tigre, while playing it off as he rummaged his darkish red hair, expressed his gratitude to everyone.
The war council was over, and Gerard and Mashas left. Then, Valentina left.
Lim and Titta, who were silently waiting at a corner of the room until then, turned dubious eyes to Tigre who showed no signs of moving. They guessed that the youth seemingly intended to stay in the room and left the room together.
Only two people, Elen and Tigre remained in the room.
“What’s the matter?”
Tigre fixedly stared at the face of Elen who revealed a carefree smile. But, he could not remain silent forever. He then began to talk.
“When the war with Sachstein is over, I intend to work in the royal palace.”
Elen, not returning words immediately, fixedly stared at Tigre with a face where her smile had disappeared. It was not expression saying that she was told something unexpected. It seemed to want to say that he’d finally touched on a subject that he would have to touch on sooner or later.
Tigre silently received her gaze which emitted a ruby-like brightness.
Elen muttered before long and made a bright smile as to shake something off.
“I should say “congratulations” here, but considering what happened yesterday, I guess it might be proper to say “good work”. How many years do you intend to work in the royal palace?”
“I don’t know yet. I don’t intend to work for dozens of years, but…… I think I’ll be in the royal palace for at least four or five years. I intend to return to Alsace during the summer or winter though.”
It was not like Tigre thought of working in the royal palace expecting fame for himself and a gorgeous life in the royal court. Although Melisande, who was the greatest political opponent, was defeated, he did it in order to support Regin and Mashas who still had many enemies and also to protect Alsace by pushing Brune into peace.
Auguste’s death also supported the youth’s thoughts. This was because Tigre thought that when Regin’s reign would become secure his (Auguste) brave fight would be rewarded.
Elen probably understood that. And because she understood, she had to try encouraging the youth with a smile at least. However, a sorrow that she was unable to conceal blurred into her smile and it looked like an ephemeral handicraft.
If Tigre was in Alsace, it wasn’t like Elen and he wouldn’t have any opportunities to meet. This was because when crossing the Vosyes Mountains, LeitMeritz was immediately before one’s eyes.
But, the distance from Nice to LeitMeritz was too far.
Even if he returned to Alsace during the summer or winter, he would have to look around his territory as much as possible and do what he had to do. So, even if Elen were to come to Alsace, she wondered whether he would be able to afford to entertain her.
“This may be the last time that we will fight side-by-side.”
“It won’t be the last time.”
Tigre denied it calmly, yet with a strong will.
“I said it before, didn’t I? That if you find yourself in a difficult situation, I will definitely rush over to you. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the capital, only that won’t change.”
Elen stared at Tigre with a surprised face, and looked downwards while pretending to smooth her hair upwards.
Further words did not come out of the silver-haired Vanadis. Why has she forgotten? That the man whom she thought she wanted beside her was such a man.
“──By the way, while we’re at it is there something that you want to ask?”
As she played over various things with a joking way of speaking, Elen asked the youth with a smile.
“What about you? Don’t you have anything to ask me?”
When Tigre asked so while laughing, Elen slightly groaned with a “muh”.
“It’s unexpectedly difficult, eh. When it comes to you, I believe that I know most things, but……”
“I answered ‘most things’ after all. By the way, though abrupt, may I ask you one thing?”
Elen gave a small nod at Tigre’s words.
“Elen, four years have passed since you became Vanadis, right?”
“Yes, it was when I was 14 years old after all.”
“Didn’t you feel anxious? To suddenly be in a position to govern a region.”
“How was it for you?”
Elen returned the question with a teasing smile.
“You, too, when you were 14, you inherited the title and Alsace from your father, right?”
“It wasn’t like there was no anxiety, but I had observed my father the feudal lord since I was a child, as well as my mother who supported my father. Lord Mashas gave me advice in various ways and there were also people who served since the time of my father, like Bertrand. Titta also encouraged me whenever possible.”
The time when he became a feudal lord, there was a time when Tigre was asked by Mashas whether he was all right, he answered “well, I’ll somehow get on with it”. It wasn’t like it was a groundless optimism, but it was his thanks to the many people who supported him, and a declaration of his intentions of moving forward.
Tigre thought that he was blessed.
“I want to make Alsace wealthier than now. I came to think so after I got used to living as a feudal lord. Until then, everyone patiently waited for me.”
Elen contently nodded several times. Then, she crossed her legs and looked up at the ceiling. But, her eyes seemed to be staring not at the ceiling, but something different.
“I also felt anxious when I became Vanadis. Speaking of a reliable person, there was only Lim after all. But, I had a dream of building a country. That’s why I was not at a loss. On that day when I’d arrived at the Imperial Palace of LeitMeritz, I gathered the civil and military officers and declared that.”
“That’s so like you. I’m sure that your subordinates were surprised, right?”
When Tigre laughed as he shrugged his shoulders, Elen also returned her gaze to the youth and sarcastically lifted the edge of her mouth.
“Yes. Any Vanadis seems to vaguely have the thought of wanting to govern a country in such a way, but it seems that it was the first time that one such as me did such a thing immediately after arriving at the Imperial Palace.”
“What kind of dream is it?”
“Where the people don’t starve, aren’t frightened that much by bandits and beasts, and can overcome freezing coldness; where the coming and going of people is prosperous and anyone can live while laughing. I want to build such a country.”
When Tigre asked, Elen fluently answered in a clear tone.
The youth opened wide his eyes. This was because he, when he became a feudal lord four years ago, did not have such a firm/proper thought.
Seeing Tigre’s reaction, the silver-haired Vanadis burst into laughter. She said while laughing happily.
“Actually, it’s not something that I thought of, myself. I took the exact same dream of a certain person.”
“A certain person……?”
“Yes. ──That’s right. I guess if it’s you, I don’t mind talking about it.”
Elen’s ruby-colored pupils glittered. While her eyes were turned to Tigre, they stared at something other than the youth.
“It’s a story from before I became Vanadis, when I was a mercenary.”
Silver Gale. It was the name of the mercenary group which Elen and Lim had belonged to.
“When I was a baby, I was picked up and raised by this mercenary group. It seemed that the village, where I was born, was attacked by bandits or mercenaries and was destroyed.”
Elen said a shocking thing in a smooth tone. Tigre was surprised, but he avoided speaking of his impression. Elen continued talking.
“The leader Vissarion was, in a few words, a strange man. His skill with the sword was reliable and he was brave when he stood on the battlefield. He didn’t make mistakes in his command and the mercenaries also deeply trusted him. The dream of such a leader was that he wanted to obtain his own country someday.”
“His own country……”
As expected, even Tigre opened wide his eyes. He almost uttered a surprised voice.
Such thing as a mere mercenary thinking of wanting to obtain his own country, unless it was not a joke he made due to alcohol, was too absurd.
“You think that it’s a joke, right?”
Seeing Tigre with a dumbfounded face, Elen slightly laughed. Looking at the ruby-colored pupils, Tigre immediately understood. Elen was talking seriously.
“That person said it seriously, huh.”
“Yes. It’s an extremely foolish and splendid dream.”
Narrowing her eyes as she talked about something nostalgic, Elen continued.
“I thought that if it was Vissarion, he could do it. I believed so. But ── Vissarion died before obtaining his own country.”
The silence which fell in the room did not last long. Elen broke the silence in a voice full of drive.
“At that time, I decided, that I’ll try building a country.”
When nearly one year had passed after she decided so, Arifal appeared before Elen. The long sword, which was a Dragonic Tool, chose Elen as its master.
“I, who entered the Imperial Palace of LeitMeritz, gathered the civil and military officers and talked about everything that I was thinking of. And then I asked them, what I should do to realize it.”
Their reactions were largely favorable. The civil officials commented on it saying “it is a little too vague, eh” and the military officers laughed while joking “you are greedy, eh”.
But, they said that they would exert themselves in order to realize Elen’s ideal. Of course, Elen also worked hard so as to not betray their devotion and expectation; Lim supported her.
As she returned her gaze to Tigre, Elen said as to conclude the story.
“I imagined the shape of the country that I govern. For that, I gathered necessary human resources, fix the laws and built a suitable environment. Sometimes, I think of a new move. For me, that’s what it means to govern a country. Perhaps, it might be different from what Vissarion thought of, but I’m different from Vissarion. So I’ll do what I wish for.”
“Do what you wish for, huh……”
“That’s what it means to be a ruler. Whether it be a feudal lord, or a Vanadis, or a King. ──How’s that? Did it serve you a little as a reference?”
Tigre did not answer immediately. He strongly thought over Elen’s words carefully.
Before long, the youth nodded and stood up.
It did not only serve as a reference. Tigre was extremely happy. About the fact that Elen told him about her past and that she gave him a supportive push on the back.
She told him about how not only supporting Regin, but also imagining a country that you govern as a ruler. That might seem presumptuous, but Tigre was the feudal lord of Alsace. He was a ruler. He must not forget that viewpoint.
“Elen. It’s strange to say it now, but…… I’m glad I’d met you.”
Tigre said that with a thought flooded with emotions.
“You flatter me” Elen said while slightly laughing.
“First, it’s Sachstein. You understand that, right?”
“Yes” as he replied so, Tigre left Elen’s room.
Something warm reverberated inside his chest.
It might be the last war where they would fight side-by-side, Elen said so.
Precisely because she thought that their parting was near, she gave to him, the thing that was an important memory for her and would become the best present.
He would not just trace (imitate) that dream, which she talked about, as is. He would find his own dream while relying on it. He would probably face that dream for many years.
And if he was able to accomplish that dream someday.
At that time, it would be without a doubt the greatest present for Elen.
Two days later, the Moonlight Knights army of 38,000 left the capital. The Vorn House’s battle flag, which drew a white half-moon and a meteor on a blue background, and the Red Horse Flag were at the vanguard, followed by the noble feudal lords’ battle flags and the Black Dragon Flag. It was a magnificent view.
Regin did not see them off. She had no room to do that as the cleaning up after the revolt has not yet been settled. But, during the short break that came into the audience room, she stood to the balcony at the back of the audience room and prayed to the gods for their safety.