By the time Mila and Tigre reached their destination, the river, the rain had stopped. About a quarter koku had passed after their life and death struggle against Vodyanoy.
Along the way, Mila, who heard the circumstances from Tigre, could not hide her surprise. She thought that Tigre and company were fighting against the Sachstein army.
But on the other hand, Mila was also convinced. While listening to the story, she has been concerned about Tigre’s attitude and profile all this time. The Tigrevurmud Vorn that she knew, even when facing an overwhelmingly powerful enemy, would never give in to despair or lose his brightness. Or so it should have been like that.
But now, the youth’s face had no composure and his eyes were gloomy and sluggish. There was no willpower in his voice, either.
—He focused on the fight until we got rid of that demon, so it isn’t like he’s become completely hopeless, but……
“Still, acting independently in order to rescue Eleonora, huh.”
Mila put her hand on her forehead as if enduring a headache and muttered with an amazed voice. Tigre, seeming to feel awkwardness to some extent, slightly turned his face away.
The two people walked along the river for a while and then stopped at a place surrounded by trees on both banks. From what Tigre confirmed, the riverbed was not deep in this area and the current was also slow. The rain did not affect the rising of the water that much.
“Let’s take a short break here. I think that I should also tell you about my circumstances.”
Because Tigre’s story was longer than she thought, Mila has not yet talked about why she was here.
When Mila got down the horse, she took off the bag and the saddle and wiped the horse’s body. She was thankful that the rain had stopped. As Tigre put his bag on the base of a tree nearby and leaned his bow and quiver against it, he gathered hand-sized stones, made a simple hearth and lighted a fire.
“Shall I go bathe first? Or do you want to go first, Tigre?”
Mila asked in a very bright tone. She also got quite dirty with mud and sweat, but it was nowhere near Tigre. Dried mud was stuck to the youth’s darkish red hair and his green clothes became pitch black by dirt, sweat and soil. His leather armor and his overcoat were in a similar state, too.
But, Tigre shook his head. He didn’t even try to brush off the mud sticking to his hair and face, as if he was not concerned about such a thing.
“I’m fine. By the way, is it fine if I go a half koku away from here?”
Tigre’s question was natural in his consideration to Mila. However, the blue-haired Vanadis knitted her brows and looked up at Tigre with displeased eyes.
“You should just go about ten steps away from the river and turn around. Please, watch my baggage so that I can bathe in relief. I don’t want to chase a weasel or a fox naked after all.”
Though Tigre stared at Mila with a face mixed with slight surprise and bewilderment, he did not refuse. In the past, Tigre too, when he was hunting, had experienced the food inside his bag being eaten by a beast when he took his eyes off it for just a moment.
Mila stood at the riverside, removed her armor and leg guards, and took off her clothes, she became stark naked. Although the degree of fleshiness was somewhat thin compared with girls of the same age, her body, which has been forged thanks to fighting and training, let one feel flexible strength, well-balanced beauty, and breathtaking charm.
However, what further emphasized Mila’s charm was without doubt her expression which revealed a tender smile. Because Tigre was next to her, she would take off the mask of Vanadis and naturally show her true self.
As she put the Frozen Wave on the ground at her feet and stooped down at the riverside, Mila scooped water with her right hand and sprinkled it on her shoulder and her chest. A long breath leaked out from her mouth due to the pleasant coldness.
“At such times, I really envy the people of Brune.”
Though spring was already over in Brune, in Olmutz that Mila governed, it was in the middle of spring. However, the river water was still cold and there was still snow remaining on the mountains.
Though there were people, who bathed or enjoyed themselves in a river on a sunny day, most of such people, after coming out from the river, warmed their bodies before a bonfire that they had prepared.
Mila also found this to be normal, but she was surprised when she heard from Tigre did it in Brune, too.
After she sprinkled water on her body several times, Mila softly stretched her leg and slowly got into the water. She was soaked in water until the area of her waist.
“It’s been a while since I took a bath.”
She walked while being careful not to slip, and then soaked in water until her shoulders when she grew accustomed to the coldness. She dived into the water, counted until 10 before getting her face out to the surface. Her blue hair clung to her face.
As it became enjoyable, Mila slowly swam while making a round trip several times at a short distance.
From when she left Olmutz until today, she has not taken a bath like this even once. When she was concerned about dirt and sweat on her body, she would go about it by wiping her body with a damp cloth. There was no helping it since she was traveling alone.
It was different now. When she raised her face, there was the figure of one youth with his back turned this way in a remote place. A slightly nasty smile appeared on Mila’s lips.
Mila called out to him from within the river as she waved her hand.
“You should get in as well. It feels good, you know?”
Of course, she was not serious, she was just teasing him. She thought that with a joke of this extent, he would either shrug his shoulders and ward it off, or become tense and pretend not to have heard it. For Mila, apart from her good will towards Tigre, a person whom you could tell such a joke to was a valuable existence.
However, the blue-haired Vanadis’ expectation came off. Tigre certainly did not turn around her way and did not even return words, but it was not because he was nervous. The feeling transmitted from his back was something totally different.
Mila, who guessed the youth’s innermost thoughts, sighed and resumed her bathing. Though she did not find Tigre’s attitude amusing, she did not know when she would have an opportunity like this again. Now, she just wanted to savor the water to her heart’s content.
When a time of about 1000 counts passed in that way, Mila, who was finally satisfied, looked once again towards Tigre. The youth’s state has not changed at all.
As expected Mila got angry, grabbed the Frozen Wave and got out of the river. She walked to Tigre’s side without wiping her body. When she stood behind the youth as such, she thrust the spear in her hand. The spearhead with an elaborate structure as if having been shaved from a block of ice passed immediately near Tigre’s face.
“Mila! What are you suddenly……”
Tigre who turned around as he was surprised held his breath and stared at Mila with a dumbfounded face.
Her white naked body wet with water was before the youth’s eyes. The drops of water spilling over from her body made many smudges on the ground. Mila glared at Tigre without even trying to cover her skin as she held her Dragonic Tool in her right hand and put her left hand to her waist, and said in a blunt tone.
“Tigre. I remembered asking you to keep look out, but I didn’t say to go rot gloomily under the shade of a tree.”
Although Tigre was at a loss for words and stared at her face, he lowered his eyes as he could not take the stern glint in her eyes. As Mila’s naked body entered his field of vision, he hurriedly turned his back. He said while gasping.
“If you want to talk, you should first wipe your body and put on some clothes.”
“I don’t mind being like this. I’ve told you before, right? Would you think I’d get embarrassed about being seen naked by a dog or a cat?”
Mila coldly showered merciless words to Tigre’s back; the youth’s back shivered with a start. He was thought to be an existence similar to a dog or cat or even below.
“Your way of talking is as if worrying about Elen is a bad thing.”
“You failed at the point when you say such a thing. I can’t even give you any sympathy points.”
While scolding him harshly, Mila felt irritation. It was a fact that the current Tigre’s attitude was irritating, but if she were to be asked whether she would be satisfied if she made the youth recover himself like that, she could easily imagine that she would not be.
The recovered Tigre would just immediately think about Elen again and try to concentrate all his effort towards rescuing her. It was a future picture that would not be funny no matter how she thought about it.
Thinking about it, she should snuggle up to Tigre here and draw the youth’s heart towards herself even if a little. It should be the best way in order to get him.
—No, I can’t.
Mila believed that her ideal was high. The Tigre, whom she wanted to be by her side, was not this sort of man. He was a man who possessed an unbending willpower and who flew to his objective like a shot arrow without succumbing to adversity. Precisely because he was such a man, she wanted to walk along with him.
—It makes me want to go back to Olmutz right now.
Mila was in Brune because she chased the presence of a demon, guided by Lavias. Although there were many suspicious points, since they somehow repelled Vodyanoy and the demon’s presence could no longer be felt, she no longer had any reason to stay here.
Even when understanding that, Mila spun words for Tigre’s sake.
“Tigre. You should understand it, too. We’re Vanadises. Since we’re on battlefields with a Dragonic Tool, not to mention becoming a prisoner, we’re prepared even for death or humiliation. Besides, you didn’t force her to fight, right?”
“Of course, I understand that.”
A voice repressing his anger spilled from Tigre’s mouth.
“But, I can’t forgive myself. For finding it natural to rely on, and fawn on Elen”
“Didn’t Eleonora also rely on and fawn on you?”
When Mila asked, the youth fell silent as he was taken unawares. The Snow Princess of the Frozen Wave continued.
“Being relied upon by someone we rely on is a very happy thing, that’s what called an equal relationship. I feel the same way, too. Even the earlier fight with the demon, I saved you and relied on you. What about you, Tigre?”
“……Me, too. I was able to feel at ease because you were there.”
Though it was a slightly unsteady tone, Tigre replied. These were his true feelings without any lies. If Mila was not there, the youth would definitely have not been able to stand here now like this.
“‘I should have done that. I should have done this’. I understand the feeling of regretting one’s actions like that. Even I’ve also made many mistakes and blamed myself. That’s why, I won’t tell you not to blame yourself. But, how many days do you intend to spend on doing that?”
When she finished speaking, a sign of the youth holding his breath was transmitted to Mila. It made her a little uneasy.
Has what she wanted to say really reached his heart? Would it not be over with him only being shaken a little? Mila still continued.
“I’m not going to drag it on forever. In such a state, it’s obvious that you won’t get anywhere no matter what you do. Or, are you saying that Eleonora is put in a situation where even the current you can easily rescue her?”
Mila, who finished saying what she should say, did not speak any further and watched the youth’s reaction. Tigre did not speak and just silently had his back to her, but the gloom that clung to his body seemed to have faded a little.
As a time of about 30 counts passed, Tigre finally expressed his gratitude.
It was a slightly embarrassed tone. Mila gazed at the youth’s back with a complicated smile similar to a wry one. While she thought it was all right like this, still she was frustrated.
However, as expected she was hesitant in demanding something to Tigre in this situation where Elen was caught by the enemy. She might leave an unnecessary bad aftertaste in Tigre’s heart.
—I shall think of something after we’ve rescued Eleonora.
“If you feel a little better, then how about you change your mood by taking a bath?”
As he replied in a tone tinged with slight brightness, Tigre turned around her way. The youth once again witnessed Mila’s naked body.
Mila promptly hugged herself, covering various places of her body. Probably because she was taken by surprise, she felt bashful rather than angry. Her cheeks bright red, she looked up at Tigre.
“……Don’t keep staring at me like that.”
Tigre’s face turned bright red and he hurriedly turned around again.
As Mila sprinkled water on her body once more, she quickly wiped her body and put on her clothes. Then, she shifted with Tigre.
“Swim while counting to 1000. That smell won’t come off unless you do that. Also, you should properly clean off the dirt, wash your clothes and also shave that beard. After you’re all done, we’ll continue the talk.”
Being told such fine orders, Tigre unintentionally rebutted her.
“Wait. I’m in a hurry now──”
“What are you in a hurry for?”
Interrupting Tigre’s words, the Snow Princess of the Frozen Wave pierced the youth with an icy gaze. Tigre swallowed his words at the anger released from her petite body.
“We know the enemy’s position. There’s no fear of losing sight of them thanks to the rain. And yet, what are you in a hurry for? Do you think that by quickly finishing your bathing, Eleonora will be set free?”
Tigre, unable to retort anything, stood stock still on the spot. Even though Mila spent so many words to remonstrate him, there seemed to still be impatience in his heart.
“So, instead of just standing there blankly, why not quickly get it over with? You’re in a hurry, right?”
Mila further threw merciless sarcasm and turned her back.
“Properly count to 1000.Understood?”
She completely treated him like a child. Though Tigre dejectedly stared at the back of Mila walking to the hearth, he switched his mood as he sighed once and stood at the riverside.
He removed the dagger that he put to his waist, took off his leather armor and clothes and got into the river. The coldness of the water soaking onto his skin felt good.
Looking back, when he was in Alsace, he always swam in a river or a lake at this time of the season (end of spring). Incidentally, when he spent spring last year in LeitMeritz, as he was going to swim in a river nearby, he was surprised at the coldness of the water; he was laughed at by Elen, and Lim was amazed.
Tigre, who soaked into water until the waist, washed his face and rubbed his hands and arms. Together with the mud stuck to them, dirt and filth were mixed with water and spilled over and fell down.
—This might certainly have smelt quite awful……
Remembering Mila’s words, he felt apologetic.
He dived into the water. “She said 1000, didn’t she?”, as he muttered in his heart, Tigre slowly stretched his body so as to get used to the water.
It’s been a while since he swam. He liked this sensation of his whole body being wrapped in water.
Though he calmly swam while counting in the beginning, impatience and irritation suddenly recurred and he vigorously swam while raising splashes. Coming to his senses, he noticed that he forgot to count midway, thus he couldn’t help but continue counting from where he remembered.
—I might have been conceited.
He stopped swimming as he felt fatigue; while looking up at the gray sky as he floated on the water surface, Tigre thought about such a thing. As he led a large army, won battles and was praised as hero, it seemed to have inadvertently misled him into believing that he could do anything alone by himself.
If my judgment and actions were right, Elen would not have been captured by the enemy. Wasn’t such a way of thinking just ignoring Elen’s will above all? After all, she was the commander of an army and also fought with her own thoughts and judgment.
When he finished swimming, he took the dagger he put at the riverside and shaved his beard. Then he washed his clothes; they were quite dirty, so the river surface became pitch black. His clothes were torn here and there, worn out and had holes.
Since he had no spare clothes, he wore the ones he’d just washed. Though it was not comfortable, he had no other choice. Lastly, he soaked his leather armor into water to wash away the mud.
It was not like his impatience and irritation had completely cooled down. Even so, when he left the river, Tigre regained his calm to some extent.
When he returned to where Mila was, she had spread out her overcoat on the ground as a substitute for a mat and was sitting down on top of it. A small pot filled with hot water was put to the hearth and white steam rose from it.
The blue-haired Vanadis, who looked up at Tigre, revealed a satisfied smile on her lips.
“You became slightly decent.”
Tigre, not returning a smile, put on a serious face and deeply bowed his head to Mila. It was not like he felt completely refreshed yet, but he escaped from the state where he advanced into darkness. Although he still could not see ahead, a faint light illuminated at hand.
It was the blue-haired girl in front of him that brought the light.
“Thank you, Mila. I was really saved thanks to you.”
Mila shook her head and changed her smile to a confident, provocative one.
“Of course, I consider it with you owning me a favor. Look forward to it.”
“Yes. I’ll do my best to repay it.”
Tigre was going to sit opposite of her across the hearth, but the blue-haired Vanadis pointed to her side with a finger.
“Come here, Tigre. Considering our relation, there’s no need to be reserved, right?”
Although Tigre hesitated for a moment, he answered “got it” and sat down next to Mila. Even he did not know well why he hesitated.
Mila took out porcelain cups and a jar of tea from her bag, and served tea with practiced hands. After Tigre received the porcelain cup and dissolved the offered jam, he quietly took it to his mouth.
The tea’s fragrance and the faint sweetness he felt on his tongue quelled and eased the youth’s feelings. The hot liquid, which went through his throat, seemed as if it let heat spread throughout his body.
Such a mutter leaked out unconsciously. One could see Mila beside him smiling. Since when has it been since he drank her tea calmly like this?
While drinking tea little by little, Tigre felt drowsiness attacking him gradually. In a situation where he had already piled up fatigue, he used the black bow’s power many times in the fight with Vodyanoy. If he fell into relaxation, there was no way that he could fight against drowsiness.
When he finished drinking the tea and put the porcelain cup on the ground, Tigre was slowly drawn into the world of sleep.
When he awoke from his sleep, Tigre noticed that he was lying down before he was aware. There was something soft with mysterious warmth under his head. As he stretched his hand for no particular reason and touched it, the smooth sensation of human skin was transmitted to his palm.
As he was surprised and looked right above, there was Mila’s face right there. She had closed her eyes and raised a sleeper’s breathing. Tigre finally understood that he seemed to have been sleeping using her lap as a pillow. When he got up in panic, perhaps because the vibration was transmitted to her, faint breathing leaked from Mila’s mouth.
His eyes met the girl’s, who slightly opened her eyes. It was at this time that Tigre recalled what happened right before he fell asleep.
Tigre deeply bowed his head to the extent that his forehead touched the overcoat spread out on the ground. There was no reply.
Tigre could not see it, but Mila looked down at him with a blank face. She had just woken up as well and needed some time to remember the situation.
“What do you apologize for?”
Mila asked with a slightly angry voice. Tigre timidly raised his head and tried to explain.
“No, like I said, I slept with my head on your lap──”
As he said up until there, Tigre interrupted his own words. It was certainly him that slept first. He had leaned on Mila next to him, but couldn’t she just have pushed him aside and make him lay down on the overcoat?
“I don’t particularly mind it.”
Mila said while looking at Tigre with a displeased face. To the youth, who blinked several times in surprise and confusion, the blue-haired Vanadis continued her words full of sarcasm.
“I’m already used to your bad sleeping habits. My body won’t hold if I get angry about this much. More importantly──”
When Mila was going to change the topic, a muffled, short sound reverberated between the two of them. It was the sound of Tigre’s stomach. Maliciousness came off completely from the Snow Princess of the Frozen Wave’s expression, and she looked at Tigre with an amazed smile.
“It looks like we should eat first before having a talk. I think that it’s probably already past noon.”
Tigre rummaged his darkish red hair, revealed a smile as to gloss things over and stood up. He picked up the black bow and the quiver that he’d leaned against the base of a tree.
“Mila. Could you wait for about half a koku? I’ll go fetch something.”
“Will you be all right?”
Mila knitted her brows. She did not intend to doubt Tigre’s ability as a hunter, but this area should be a place that he’d also visited for the first time. Wasn’t it a little dangerous?
However, Tigre replied with a calm attitude so as to not let one feel an ounce of uneasiness.
“I won’t overdo it. But, I want to properly thank you after all.”
“Thank me……? Didn’t I tell you that I consider you owing me a favor?”
“It’s thanks for the tea and the lap pillow. I was able to sleep well thanks to you.”
The latter half of his words were naturally intended as a joke. At this time, since Tigre wasn’t looking at Mila as he was pulling his bowstring to check its state, he didn’t notice that she’d blushed and hung her head down.
“……I’ll be waiting without expecting much.”
As he lightly waved his hand to the blue-haired Vanadis who said that while turning away, Tigre began to run.
Exactly as Tigre had said, he returned to Mila when roughly half a koku had passed. Seeing the figure of the youth hanging two rabbits, which he’d finished draining the blood of, and one squirrel, Mila was dumbfounded. Furthermore, Tigre lined up dozens of grains and fruits before her and a bunch of edible wild grasses.
“Also, I seemed to have killed a deer though. Because it was quite big and I was quite far from here, I gave up on it.”
“This is really the first time that you came here, right……?”
Mila looked at Tigre with very suspicious eyes. She also often hunted as a pastime, but she couldn’t hunt this way even in Olmutz where she was born and raised.
As the two skillfully handled the rabbits and squirrel, they finely cut the meat and threw it into the pot together with the wild grasses. As for the entrails, they removed the dangerous/toxic parts from them, buried them into the earth and threw away the remaining parts (parts not dangerous, that is) into the river. Although saying that they threw them away, it would eventually become food for the fishes and disappear.
They shaved off fat from the fur as much as possible and soaked it (fur) into the river water. Because it was troublesome to tan the fur by themselves, they intended to take it to a nearby village or settlement and exchange it for something.
After checking that the meat was cooked, they began their meal. Tigre did not have tableware, and of course Mila, except for porcelain cups to drink tea with, only had a plate for herself. So, the two people took turns in using the same plate.
The meat was fresh and although it was chewy, it was tender. It might have become monotonous if it was only meat, but the wild grasses with faint bitterness enhanced the flavor of the meat.
When drinking the soup in which salt was mixed well in, they leaked hot breaths. As it was Mila who provided salt as she had a great amount with her, Tigre was grateful to her from the bottom of his heart.
“I feel like it’s been a while since I ate something delicious. After all, I’ve been eating only dried meat and dried vegetables these past few days.”
“Well, such meals are natural when you’re on a trip. It was also the same for me.”
Mila who answered so looked satisfied. Actually, she was just as hungry as Tigre was, too.
When the pot became empty, after carefully washing it, Mila poured water in, boiled it and made tea. Tigre, who received a porcelain cup filled with tea, asked with a wondering face.
“Why do you have two porcelain cups?”
“When I travel, I always carry two with me. If it’s only the porcelain cups, they don’t take that much space and they can also be used on occasions of conversation after all. In a way where you treat someone you got to know to tea and in return have them tell you stories that may be useful.”
At Mila’s explanation, Tigre stared at her with a surprised face.
“Even you also often go out to town?”
“How rude. I do at least that much.”
Although Mila frowned as he had offended her, she immediately pulled herself together and continued her words.
“Speaking of which, I’ve never done something like that with you, right?”
“Yes. We’ve just taken a walk to the town of Rodnick the first time when we met, I guess.”
During the time when Tigre stayed in LeitMeritz, Mila had asked Tigre several times, but they had not gone together to the town near the palace. In the Imperial Palace, they had just enjoyed various stories with Elen and Lim and had meals together.
In fact, it was just recently that Mila has begun walking in that way in a town she stopped by in the middle of a trip. That she took interest in it after being told about Tigre and Elen walking around the town incognito was the trigger; she had no intention to tell him that though.
“I’ll try inviting you too next time.”
“It’ll be fine if you can properly brew tea, but if you can’t, then forget it. It’ll just increase the subjects for dispute.”
Then, Mila told Tigre about why she came to Brune.
“The presence of a demon……?”
Tigre cocked his head in puzzlement. In fact, Vodyanoy appeared before him and thanks to Mila’s help, they repelled him; but when thinking calmly about it like this, there were several strange points. Mila, seeming to think the same thing, made a sullen face.
“Honestly, I didn’t think that I would end up crossing nearly half of Brune. On the way, you can imagine how many times I thought of returning.”
Saying with a sigh, Mila shrugged her shoulders. Considering the distance from Olmutz that she governed to here, it was without doubt quite a long trip.
“Thanks to that, you saved me, so I’m thankful though.”
After he said so to comfort her, Tigre pondered with a serious expression.
“Looking back, it felt like he deliberately showed up to be beaten up.”
Mila nodded as she agreed. They didn’t know where Vodyanoy had lay hidden, but wouldn’t he have defeated Tigre and Mila one by one before they joined up? After all, it was probably impossible for Tigre or Mila alone to defeat that monster.
“What about Lavias? Didn’t it tell you something?”
When Tigre asked, Mila shook her head. The spear of ice put next to her its spearhead, which was composed of an ice block and crystal, slightly shimmer with light.
“This child seemed to be perplexed, too. It said that after that guy disappeared, it could no longer feel any demon’s presence.”
“Perhaps, he might have come to test my power.”
Tigre’s gaze was turned towards the black bow. It was put on a bag so that he could immediately pick it up (when danger arises). So as to close the topic, Mila said.
“Let’s put the topic about demons aside for the time being. I don’t know whether or not he died, but since he’s gone, I guess he won’t show up for a while…… Besides, I have something more troublesome to tell you.”
“I don’t think there’s anything more troublesome than the talk about demons though.”
Though Tigre laughed in a joking tone, his complexion changed after hearing that the Muozinel army invaded Brune. He opened his eyes wide and stared at Mila as he was speechless.
“It’s the truth.”
As she told so with a stern expression, Mila explained as far as she knew.
She told him that the Muozinel army appeared at the border of Olmutz, but that it was a diversion. While pretending to attack Zhcted, they marched to the northwest as they took advantage of a moment of carelessness from Mila, broke through Agnes which was a territory of Zhcted and crossed Brune’s border.
Though as a result, Mila chased the Muozinel army and entered Brune as she overtook them.
“What is the Muozinel army’s number……?”
The voice of Tigre, who asked so, trembled.
“From what I saw, they were so many I was unable to grasp it. From what I heard in the towns and cities I stopped by since I entered Brune, it seems to be around 100,000 to 150,000 though.”
Tigre unintentionally staggered. He guessed that it would be around 50,000 to 60,000, but the actual number was far beyond his imagination. Even the Sachstein army, which invaded the other day, had 70,000 troops when combining the 50,000 led by Kreuger and the 20,000 led by Schmidt. It made him feel dizzy.
—That Muozinel army……
Moreover, the youth was aware that he was not good at dealing with the Muozinel army. Two years ago, Tigre intercepted the Muozinel army, which invaded Brune, with a small army force. There were no chances of victory at all. He was just desperate to protect Brune’s people.
In the end, the Muozinel army withdrew; Tigre was given the title of “Star Shooter” by the Muozinel King’s younger brother Kreshu Shaheen Baramir, and raised his fame in one fell swoop.
But, Tigre knew that if the Muozinel army had not withdrawn, they would have been forced to a defeat.
“What will you do?”
Tigre came to his senses at Mila’s voice. Before he was aware, sweat was oozing on his forehead. When he roughly wiped it with his arm, he drank up his tea. He pictured a map of all of Brune in his mind.
What Tigre first thought about was food. Even assuming the Muozinel army to be 100,000, an enormous quantity of food should be necessary. And there was also no doubt that there would bea huge amount of carts, horses and cattle required to transport it. Then, their supply line would be extremely unstable because it would pass through Zhcted’s territory.
—Won’t they head towards the southern port towns group rather than aiming straight for the Capital Nice?
If they aimed for the Capital, then it would be simple. While shutting all the castle gates and devoting themselves to defense, Brune would just move a detached unit to cut off their supply line. As a result, a large army’s strong point would turn into its weakness in no time. Their great numbers would become a great burden and they would starve in a few days.
In order to avoid such a situation, they should secure the sea route by gaining control of the southern port towns group.
After a short pause, Tigre replied.
“I’ll focus on my own goal. I’ll put off the Muozinel army aside for the time being.”
“Yes. That’s the right thing to do.”
Mila nodded contentedly and smiled with a slightly nasty tone so as to tease him.
“I intended to deduct you points and tell you to cool down your head if you hesitated too long, but I’m glad it didn’t turn out like that.”
“I just drank warm tea, so please spare me from that. By the way, about what to do from now on, but……”
After saying up to there, Tigre changed his expression as he noticed a certain thing. He forgot something important. He turned towards Mila and bowed his head.
“Mila. Please, lend me your strength to rescue Elen.”
The reason she was here was because she chased after the presence of a demon, and not really because she came to save Tigre. He should ask her with his own words.
While looking at the back of the head of the youth, the blue-haired Vanadis curled her lips into a happy smile. With an expression as though to say “you pass so far”, she said.
“I’ll make Eleonora owe me a big favor, so I don’t mind helping you, but…… I’ve one condition. Show me how you can guarantee my position.”
Though Tigre cocked his head in puzzlement, he immediately understood what Mila wanted to say. There would certainly be a problem for a person with the position of a Vanadis of Zhcted saying that she was in Brune because she was chasing after a demon.
“How about saying that a friend of the neighboring country made a long journey to pay me a visit?”
Though Tigre suggested that with a serious face, the reply was a blow from the Frozen Wave. Though he was hit lightly, it hurt quite a lot as he was taken by surprise. And if it had also contained chill, then all the more.
“I’ll stab you the next time.”
Mila coldly pierced the youth with a gaze tinged with two kinds of anger. Not only the contents, but also the word “friend” made her quite displease, but Tigre did not notice it.
“Then, how about this? In order to inquire about the lawless Muozinel army that broke through Agnes, a Zhcted territory, without permission, Mila came to Brune. And then you came to me, whom you’re acquainted with and trust, and who was entrusted with the army by Princess Regin.”
“I’ll barely give you a passing mark. It would have been better if you added that as the lord of Olmutz, I came to ask about Princess Regin’s intent on how she intends to deal with Muozinel who invaded Brune.”
On the occasion of the Sun Festival, the Zhcted King gave Mila and Sofy the order to be cautious of Muozinel. Moreover, before the Muozinel army invaded Brune, they attacked Fort Fordney located on the southern tip of Olmutz.
For Zhcted, Muozinel was a clear enemy and it was natural to suggest a common front to their ally Brune. Being explained as such by Mila, Tigre greatly nodded.
“I got it. I’ll also add that.”
The two people exchanged a handshake. Even if there was some distortion/stretch, because Mila moved as a Vanadis, such a formality was necessary.
As she poured new tea into the two porcelain cups respectively, Mila asked the youth.
“Without delay, could you talk about how we’ll move from now on?”
“For the time being, I intend to chase the Greast army just like before though……”
When Tigre replied, the Snow Princess of the Frozen Wave made a skeptical expression.
“Meaning that tonight too, you’re going to sneak into the enemy’s camp and look for an opportunity?”
When Tigre nodded while being puzzled at Mila’s reaction, she shook her head. With an expression like a teacher scolding a bad student, she said.
“If you do something like that every night, before rescuing Eleonora, we’ll be so tired we’ll be unable to move. Also, just now, you said that without thinking about anything in particular, didn’t you?”
“Wh……What are you saying?! There’s no way that I didn’t think about anything!”
Tigre flared up and desperately rebutted. Even though she should know how much he was worried about Elen and wanted to rescue her as soon as possible, why did she say such a thing?
In contrast with Tigre, who flared up, Mila coldly responded.
“Looks like you lose your temper quite a lot. Fine, I’ll give you an advice. Think about the Greast army’s food supply?”
Mila silently stared at Tigre, who knitted his brows with a perplexed face. As the youth groaned while rummaging his darkish red hair, he pondered with his head hung down. The Snow Princess of the Frozen Wave quietly waited while drinking tea.
—The Greast army’s food, huh……
Tigre put in order in his head the information that he’d gathered from sneaking into their camp last night.
It was said that they attacked villages and towns in Earl Cotillard’s territory and got food.
As far as Tigre knew, since they defeated the Moonlight Knight army, they did not do any looting. After learning of the Muozinel army’s invasion, they probably tried to escape to the north as early as possible.
According to Tigre’s observations these several days, they did not seem to be carrying a large quantity of food. With the remaining rations, they could only hold on at most 5 to 6 days.
—But, they did not look like they were worried about food. Does this mean that they found a way to supplement food during these few days?
When food was not enough, soldiers would be sensitive to it. Even if one could deceive them for a few days, the small sense of discomfort would turn into anxiety and before long they would become suspicious. The fall of the morale would bring about rebellion to the commander and it would gradually undermine the army. And it would finally end up with insubordination or desertion.
In order to prevent such a situation, one could only either prepare enough food, or show a plan about how to obtain food to let the soldiers feel relieve. There was also the method of deliberately making them starve to fan their fighting spirits, but it was a dangerous act that could easily bring about the rampage of the soldiers.
—The land they’re heading to is Montour, right? They probably intend to resupply food there. I didn’t hear them talking about assaulting it, which means……
Tigre did not know about the person governing Montour, but he was definitely an ally of Greast.
Thinking up to there, Tigre unintentionally struck his hand. He understood what Mila wanted to say. Looking at the blue-haired Vanadis, the youth carefully opened his mouth.
“We’ll sneak into the Greast army on the night just before they arrived at Montour. Is that it?”
As she erased her sour look, Mila revealed a fearless smile.
“We’ll sneak among an enemy of 10,000, rescue a person and escape. You should think that there’ll only be one opportunity. In that case, we should aim for the moment when the enemy would relax their guard the most.”
Tigre strongly nodded back at Mila’s words. He felt ashamed of himself who could only think about naively chasing the enemy.
“We must first investigate where Montour is.”
Montour’s location wasn’t written down on the map that Mila had. It might be a territory so small that it wasn’t depicted on the map, so they just had to stop by a suitable village or settlement and ask about this.
And when they know the location of Montour by doing that, they would overtake the Greast army so as to not be found by them and ambush them in the vicinity of Montour.
“Well then, shall we go?”
The two people stood up. They put out the fire and destroy the hearth. When they gathered their luggage, the youth began to go on foot and the Vanadis was on horse.
—Elen, wait just a little more.
Tigre muttered inwardly. A light of determination filled with vigor shone in his black pupils.
In the southern part of the Brune Kingdom, wind as to let one already feel early summer blew across the sea.
Originally, it shouldn’t have been unusual to see the figures of fleets with white sails filled with wind in the sea of the south at this period. Including the neighboring countries Sachstein and Muozinel, the ships of various countries would form a line towards the port towns group at the coast, transporting various articles.
Salted meat and fish, rare fruits and spices, tea and alcohol, works of art enveloped with many layers of silk clothes so as to not be flooded with the salty sea breeze, accessories adorned abundantly with jewels, sturdy wood, huge marble, carpets, ivory and the like would show up at the port one after another and each time, merchants and visitors would raise shouts of joy.
It was not just goods that entered. Even foreign merchants, itinerant minstrels, prostitutes, clowns, mercenaries, traveling knights and the like would appear at the port town. They would rarely remain in the port town and instead head for somewhere in Brune, thus beginning a trip by land routes this time.
The heat of the early summer and the fervor of people would mix, languages of various countries would fly about in disorder, and it should have shown great bustling like any port town.
However, there was none of that this year. The fleets coming to Brune were very few, and even these few did not stay for long. There were also few merchants and visitors and only the heat brought about by the sunlight of early summer hovered.
One of the causes was the existence of the Sachstein army that attacked in the beginning of this year. They concluded a secret agreement with Melisande and thus were able to put several port towns under control without fighting. But no matter if blood did not flow, there would not be so many merchants approaching a town that would eventually become a battlefield.
Though General Kreuger, who controlled the port towns group, was by no means an unjust man, the impression of an army being a group of annoying fellows that forcibly took away valuable trade articles was harbored by many merchants. So, they decided to adopt a watchful stance towards Sachstein and Muozinel.
And when they thought that the Sachstein army was defeated and had left, before the aftermath had cooled down, the Muozinel army showed up this time via land route. Moreover, it was a large army that was not comparable to the Sachstein army.
The soldiers, who saw them from the top of the castle walls surrounding the town or from high towers, were uniformly frightened.
The appearance of 150,000 Muozinel soldiers marching while literally filling up the horizon seemed as if an iron-colored flood had gradually engulfed the land.
Receiving the wind and fluttering while shiningly reflecting the sunlight was a battle flag that depicted a golden helmet with horns and a sword on a scarlet background. It was the War God Varhrān.
They were composed of 25,000 cavalrymen and 125,000 infantrymen. The infantrymen were furthermore split into 55,000 commoner soldiers and 70,000 war slaves.
The so-called war slaves were soldiers with the status of slaves.
The cavalry and infantry commoners were only Muozinel people, but the war slaves were various/mixed; of course, there were Muozinel people, but there were also Brune people and Zhcted people. Therefore, only the war slaves were mixed with white-skinned people and brown-skinned people.
They only got wages less than half the infantrymen’s, were made to stand forefront on the battlefield, and were mercilessly shot dead by their allies when they tried to run away.
They were promised only three things: food, permission to plunder like other soldiers and to be freed from slavery by paying 1000 gold coins.
It was about several days ago, that the Muozinel army broke through the Zhcted territory Agnes and invaded Brune, but many port towns had already opened their gates and surrendered without fighting. Seeing about 150,000 soldiers from afar, they lost their fighting spirit. There were also people who abandoned the towns and escaped into the mountains or the forest.
There were also towns that shut the castle gates and showed a will of resistance, but their fate was, to sum it up in one word, miserable. The Muozinel army attacked like a storm, climbed over the castle walls with ladders, destroyed the gate with a battering ram and surged into the town.
Those who resisted and old men were all killed and any other people, even children, were caught and made slaves. Money and goods, no matter how small it was, were taken, and even gold leaf applied on the gods’ statues lined up in the temples was torn off.
In the end, fire was set on the buildings and the Muozinel army resumed their march leaving behind the town burning up and becoming ruins.
On the other hand, the Muozinel army was tolerant towards the towns that surrendered. They did not plunder neither did they make the residents slaves. They demanded food and materials, but it was not accompanied with direct violence, neither was it made on the principle of stealing everything.
But from their attitudes, the towns’ heads could not help but realized.
That Muozinel did not come to plunder and go back, but to rule over them.
The one leading the 150,000 of the Muozinel army was Kreshu Shaheen Baramir. He held the nickname of “Red Beard (Barbaros)” and was the King’s younger brother. He was 39 years old now. Liveliness and playfulness overflowed on his evil countenance comprised of greatly hollow eyes and a long nose and ears.
Kreshu was at the most rear of the 150,000 soldiers, sitting on a luxurious palanquin adorned with jewels. He wrapped his firm body in pure white silk clothes and put a similarly white feather in the silk cloth wrapped around his head. Only his red beard, which was the origin of his nickname and which extended to his chest, was tinged with a strong/eye-catching color.
This was a fairly unusual dress up for the extravagant him, but there was a somewhat nasty reason for this.
The Generals visited him to make some sort of reports.
Staring at their supreme commander’s clothes, they revealed perplexed expressions. This was because the Kreshu they knew liked flashy clothes such as rainbow-colored clothes, or clothing comprised of gaudy red, yellow and blue, or clothes studded with gold thread and the like.
While they reported, their expressions did not look very good. Finally, a certain person directly and another one indirectly asked gingerly “did something happen?”. Then, Kreshu deliberately made a disappointed expression and asked “try guessing. Can’t you see it?”
Kreshu was known for his tolerant personality, but he was also the King’s younger brother and the “Red Beard (Barbaros)” who boasted of distinguished war services like no other in Muozinel. If they were to give a reply that would hurt his feelings, even if it wouldn’t go as far as beheading them, they might be made to fall to the status of slaves.
There would by no means be anyone who would ask “Are you perhaps teasing us?” When they spoke their minds after being troubled for a while and were told “Enough already, leave” by Kreshu, they all left with deep blue faces.
As for why Kreshu did such a thing, there was no reason in particular. If one were compel to say it, it was because he was bored to no end. The King’s younger brother was such a person.
“It’s something I already knew, but I’m really bored.”
When the sun was about to reach the zenith, as he received a report for the Nth time today, gave words of thanks to the soldier and had him leave, Kreshu talked to himself while stifling a yawn.
Since initiating the invasion into the Brune Kingdom, he has not experienced a decent battle even once.
There was no way that they would be that many enemies that would face 150,000 soldiers. A weak resistance to the degree of managing to gather 2000 to 3000 soldiers wouldn’t even compare to a quarrel between an adult and a child. If they poked them a little, the enemy would collapse and be annihilated.
Kreshu did not need to act in such battles. After one General assaulted a town with 10,000 soldiers and got the plundering over with, he would report the results to Kreshu and that was all.
In this campaign, the Generals that Kreshu chose were only capable and brave people with great loyalty. They should not have any trouble in assaulting a port town.
Besides, before entering Brune, Kreshu set a rough objective so that they would not come to seek his judgment for every single thing. Therefore, the General were able to quickly move in accordance with that.
In addition, when it came to the march of 150,000 soldiers, the movement would be disordered in the front and rear, the units would collide with each other and deserters would appear; but such things did not happen for the time being. The Generals, in response to Kreshu’s trust, cooperated and splendidly led the army.
“My job now is only eating, sleeping, being shaken on the palanquin and listening to the reports.”
There might be no helping it for Kreshu, who was put in such a situation, to tease the Generals. That he didn’t go as far as to tease even ordinary soldiers would be the minimal salvation.
Around the palanquin where he was sitting, close aides rode horses so as to protect the King’s younger brother, but none of them stopped Kreshu from killing time. This was because they thought that it was just slightly troubling the Generals, but it was still okay.
But, seemingly feeling that it was necessary to soothe the King’s younger brother, one of the close aides opened his mouth.
“Then, how about doing falconry as a victory celebration after having gain control of the port towns group and securing the sea route? Since Brune has many flat grassy plains, I think that there will be not too much trouble in choosing a place for that.”
“Hou. Falconry, huh.”
Kreshu’s hollow eyes shone as though to say that it was a splendid idea.
“Then, let’s do this. I’ll lead 10,000 soldiers and go around Brune while greatly enjoying falconry. You people will follow me with the remaining 140,000 soldiers. Meanwhile, if someone sees a town or a city to be assaulted, we’ll occupy it without a moment’s delay. Hahaha, won’t it look like quite an exciting falconry?”
The close aides were all at a loss for words. That was absolutely not falconry. What was frightening above all was that the King’s younger brother might happily do it.
Including the one who suggested falconry, the close aides prostrated themselves to Kreshu and begged him to retract that thought. The King’s red-bearded younger brother boringly frowned.
“What are you unhappy with?”
“Our bodies will not last.”
A close aide answered with a very serious face. If Kreshu were to seriously go wildly around freewheelingly, not only the close aides, but even the Generals and soldiers would end up being exhausted just by following him. As a result, the army would fall apart.
“Your Excellency. As expected, even Brune will have to fight when we draw near their capital. Could you please bear with it for a little while and wait for the fun to come?”
One of the close aides eagerly spun his words. Although Kreshu snorted revealing disappointment and dejection, he did not reject their request.
At that time, one of the soldiers showed up to report. Though the soldier felt an atmosphere similar to awkwardness hanging over and around the palanquin, he pretended not to notice it.
“Report. There are people who request an audience with your Highness the Prince……”
A light of curiosity, though little, was lit in Kreshu’s eyes. At this moment, anything would do as long as it staved off his boredom. Hearing the names of the people who wanted to meet him, the Red Beard (Barbaros) revealed a light smile.
“Lamer, Agde and Massilia, huh…… Fine. Bring them along.”
They were all port towns with some scale, but these three towns had one common point. It was the point where they had kept in touch with Melisande and changed sides to Sachstein.
Kreshu made the palanquin stop. 10,000 soldiers similarly stopped their march in order to protect him.
Then about a quarter koku passed and the heads of the towns finally showed up before Kreshu respectively. They were men in their thirties to fifties and they wore fine silk clothes.
Situated in between Muozinel soldiers with spears, they stood side-by-side about ten steps away from the palanquin. As the three men made courteous greetings in the Muozinel language, they exhausted words to praise Kreshu’s various distinguished military services, then went ahead and offered to cooperate.
Their intentions were clear. Now that Melisande was dead and Sachstein was defeated, they would only wait for Princess Regin’s punishment. The Muozinel army showing up then would look like a hand of salvation held out to them.
After Kreshu, who finished listening to their words, contentedly nodded, he turned his gaze to the close aide standing by his side.
“Send these guys to the front line as war slaves. Tell Ekrem to also treat them as such.”
Ekrem was one of the Generals that Kreshu selected for this campaign. He commanded 20,000 war slaves and was in charge of the front row for today’s march. Then, Kreshu ordered.
“And then, arrest all their families and relatives. The men shall be made wars slaves, and the women and children slaves. I don’t mind if you leave the old men, but kill them should they resist.”
At the severe order, the head of Lamer screamed. Massilia’s head took a step forward as his face turned blue, then red due to shock and fear. Kreshu’s close aides changed their expressions and kneeled, the Muozinel soldiers quickly stuck out their spears.
“W-Why do we receive such a cruel treatment?! I heard that concerning the other towns that surrendered, both their lives and assets were protected……!”
As his way was blocked by spears, the head of Massilia desperately appealed in the Muozinel language mixed with Brune language. Kreshu replied in a derisive tone.
“It looks like you got something wrong, but capitulation and betrayal are two different things, Head of Massilia. The other towns you speak of didn’t betray Brune, right?”
It was not like Kreshu disliked the act of betrayal. He just judged that the so-called full scale cooperation they spoke of was not worth looking at.
If these three men had taken the initiative to express cooperation with Muozinel and moreover appealed to other towns for betrayal, Kreshu would have given them a suitable treatment.
But, there already existed many port towns that yielded to the pressure of their large army and surrendered. If he were to treat them and these three men in the same way, it was inevitable that the heads of other towns would hold animosity/antipathy.
On the other hand, if he were to put these three men under the others, this time, these three men would hold dissatisfaction. There was no guarantee that people such as them that betrayed Brune twice would not betray Muozinel.
Dealing with them directly was the quickest way.
“O-Our experience and accomplishments in governing a town are……”
The Head of Agde, who was speechless until then, came to his senses and desperately entreated. The Red Beard (Barbaros) clearly jeered at them this time.
“My country also has many towns with ports facing on the south sea. So, you don’t have to worry about that.”
These were words with the meaning that Muozinel people would directly rule over these three port towns.
Regarding the other towns which quietly obeyed, he thought that it was fine to leave their rules to the Brune people as before. Only, there should just be a Muozinel person with a rank higher than the ruler.
Alternatively, it might be good to continue the custom of having a Muozinel person ruling the towns in their place. In that case, not only could he bring to light problems at an early stage, he could also keep a spirit of rivalry between the Brune rulers.
When Kreshu lightly waved his hand, the Muozinel soldiers thrust their spears and took the three Brune men along. When their figures could no longer be seen, Kreshu’s palanquin was lifted. The King’s younger brother and the 10,000 soldiers resumed their march.
Then before long, Kreshu noticed a certain thing and said in a small voice.
“I should have asked them about Sachstein.”
About the time just when the New Year began, Kreshu, who had heard that Sachstein invaded Brune, had sent a messenger to Sachstein.
In the end, there was no reply and Kreshu himself decided to attack Brune independently, but he was interested in the strategies and tactics that they’d pictured. Since the Brune men just now should have had a close relation with Sachstein, they might know about it in detail.
However, Kreshu shook his head and denied that thought. There was no way that people such as them that came before him and were unable to come up with proper means of negotiations would know that much. Even assuming that they knew, it might not be a useful thing.
Suddenly, Kreshu looked back towards one of his close aides and asked.
“Which reminds me, was there any report from Damad?”
The close aide shook his head as he answered “there was none”. Damad was one of Kreshu’s close aides and also a youth with ability as a warrior and as a commander.
When they passed through Agnes and entered Brune’s territory, Kreshu gave 2000 cavalrymen to Damad and gave him one order.
It was to scout out the outskirts of the Capital Nice as well as Brune’s western part and gathered information.
Not so many days have passed yet since the Moonlight Knight army lost to the Greast army.
Kreshu gathered information either by releasing several scouting parties or by listening to stories from the Heads and merchants of the port towns that surrendered, but he didn’t know yet about the Sachstein army’s withdrawal, the Moonlight Knight army’s defeat and even the Greast army’s existence. More exactly, even if he heard about it as a rumor, he has not yet verified whether it was true or false.
This was a problem of distance and means of communication; if Kreshu had not advanced through the southern coast, but instead went north towards the Capital, he would have obtained more accurate information. However, Red Beard (Barbaros) the King’s younger brother, as a supreme commander, gave priority to the establishment of the supply line and instead sent Damad far away.
“Since it’d take a lot of time when it comes to the capital, I didn’t set a time limit, but…… That Damad, I wonder until where he went. He didn’t possibly get lost, did he?”
At Kreshu’s mutter, the close aides remained silent and nobody answered.
While being protected by 10,000 soldiers, the King’s younger brother travelled aboard the palanquin through Brune’s highways.
At that time, Damad, who made Kreshu unusually worried, was at a place about half a day west of the Capital Nice. Being accompanied by 2000 cavalrymen, they took a short rest on a small hill surrounded by grassland.
Gray clouds thinly spread overhead of Damad. The weather was different from the south and the center even in the same country (Brune). Though he didn’t think that it would rain right now, it was weather that made one worry.
“I feel like I had gotten the short end of the stick.”
Looking up at the gray sky, Damad spitted out in irritation. He was currently 19. He was a tall figure youth with dark brown skin characteristic to Muozinel people, a slender nose and chin, and a sharp look.
Damad wore leather armor on thick clothes, hung a curved sword to his waist and fastened a bow on the saddle. The iron helmet he put on his head was the proof of being a commander. Frankly speaking, he wanted to take it off, but he endured it for his pride as a commander.
It might be said that his ability to lead 2000 soldiers on a land he’d visited for the first time was quite good. But, he was full of dissatisfaction.
He was not that dissatisfied about having been ordered to do reconnaissance in a distant place by Kreshu.
He thought that it was regrettable as a warrior he was not able to participate in the capture battle of the port towns group and that it was a shame when he thought about the plunder after the capture, but Kreshu was a man who attached extreme importance to information gathering. If Damad were to bring accurate and valuable information, he would definitely be highly evaluated.
The time that he thought that his expectations were off was when he went to attack villages and towns from the south to the west of Brune.
Damad was ordered to procure food locally. In other words, it meant to steal it from the enemy. This was also the approval to acquire slaves.
However, the towns and villages of Brune’s south had already been attacked by the Sachstein army and the Greast army. While prostrating himself before Damad, the chief of a certain village told in tears that there was almost no food remaining. And when he had his subordinates inquire, it was true.
Because it was only one or two villages and towns that were in this state, Damad was greatly perplexed.
Anyway, because they also needed food, although he coldly told them to “go ask to the Capital” and took some quantity of food by force, the feeling of wasted effort was bigger than the sense of accomplishment.
They did not obtain even one slave. As they must first secure enough food for themselves, there was no way that they could leisurely think of getting slaves. It was not as if Damad held merciful thoughts towards slaves, but it was not his hobby to watch them die by the roadside.
The reconnaissance and information gathering which were his original objectives went smoothly.
Damad got to know that the Sachstein army withdrew after having a battle with the Moonlight Knight army, and that a group of unknown identity defeated the Moonlight Knight army.
This group was the Greast army, but Damad naturally did not know that name. He just vaguely guessed that it was an anti-Princess armed group.
—I wonder if that was a blunder……
Shifting his gaze, Damad thought while looking down at the grassland from the hill.
When Kreshu ordered reconnaissance around the Capital to Damad, he had not yet decided whether or not he would have him head to the west of Brune. After looking at the map of all of Brune, he asked
“East or west, which way do you want to go?”
Damad chose west because he thought that he would definitely get information about the Sachstein army, but it was not only for that.
On the northeast part of the map, he found the place named ‘Alsace’. Damad knew that it was Tigrevurmud Vorn’s territory.
The Sachstein army’s hand did not extend until the eastern part of Brune. If he had attacked the lands of Territoire and Alsace, he wouldn’t have gotten useful information like now; but he might have secured enough food, materials and slaves. And he would definitely be highly evaluated as such.
“What do we do, your Excellency?”
The soldier acting as his adjutant asked. It was a man two or three years older than Damad.
“I think that we got enough information about the Sachstein army and the so-called Moonlight Knight army. Since we don’t have that much food, I think that we shall go back from here.”
“Are you satisfied with the harvest of this time?”
Damad asked with a displeased face. The adjutant replied with a wry smile.
“As a scouting party, I think that they are results we should be satisfied with. Especially, if his Highness gets to know that Brune does not have a large amount of military power, he will be pleased.”
At these words, Damad stared at his adjutant with a sharper gaze.
“Do you really think so?”
“Do you think that the story of the combined army of Brune and Zhcted having suffered a crushing defeat and that “Star Shooter” having gone missing is a lie?”
The adjutant asked back with a dubious face. Damad took off his gaze from him, looked at the distance and muttered as if speaking to himself.
“That guy is more stubborn than a sand fox after all.”
A sand fox was a fox inhabiting Muozinel. It could leisurely endure the heat during the day and the cold during the night in the desert, and could move vigorously for two days without eating or drinking.
“Yea……” throwing a sidelong glance at the adjutant who gave a vague reply, Damad pondered. He depicted a map in his head. He wondered about which direction they should ride their horses to.
If he judged that they had finished their mission and should join the main force, it would be south. If he thought about plundering, it would be east.
If he wanted to inquire about the movement of the Sachstein army after their withdrawal and Asvarre, then it would be west. However, if he were to go west, the supply of food and materials would without doubt become severer/harsher than now.
—What’s left is the north.
He tried thinking again about the Greast army. If they defeated the Moonlight Knight army, then it meant that they were fairly strong.
It was clear that they opposed Regin, but was there a possibility for them to betray Brune and cooperate with Muozinel? Conversely, was there a possibility that they regarded Muozinel as an enemy and temporarily join forces with Princess Regin?
—I guess I shall inquire about them just a little more.
He could not afford to ignore a group that might become an enemy of Muozinel. As he only had 2000 soldiers, he did not intend to fight them; he wanted to at least inquire about their aim, base and commander’s identity. Anyway, it would not be futile since sooner or later they would either negotiate or cross blades.
“We’ll go to the north. I want to check out what kind of guys the group said to be the anti-Princess faction is; then after I get that over with, we’ll go back to the main force.”
“Isn’t it quite dangerous to head to the north from the Capital?”
At the adjutant, who cocked his head in puzzlement, Damad replied with a smile oozing ambition.
“His Highness is probably thinking that, too. In other words, it means that it might bear that much result.”
Finishing their rest before long, the Muozinel army of 2000 cavalrymen led by Damad went down the hill. And they advanced their horses towards the north.