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Chapter 11: The Fourth Camp

The Fourth Camp

I decided to make a large alteration to our objective.

(Dammit, if Lorphys' princess wasn't so bad, we would've just attained victory on Lorphys' side.)

Lorphys, who found mithril in the Labyrinth.

Zayin, who claimed it was a gift to them from their Goddess.

That was what the start of war looked like to the public eye.

But there, a third country... the kingdom of Selva comes out.

Looking at the numerous pieces of information.

Selva's prince, and Lorphys' princess... an only daughter, were engaged.

Zayin's Holy Maiden was a former noble daughter of Selva.

The country had connections to both sides, and yet that third power showed not a single movement on the surface in this war. That was Selva.

The living room of the manor Novem had purchased, and that was in the middle of renovations to receive us.

I sat in a chair facing a table, and spoke with the voices of the Jewel.

"They're a suspicious one no matter how you look at it, but can we really do anything about this third country?"

On my voice, I heard a response from the Jewel I had placed on the table. It was the Sixth.

[Fret not. Luck has blessed you with a number of cards to play. A former Holy Maiden, a former High Priest, a knight of Lorphys... and a former Holy Maiden candidate. Think about the information that comes in, and choose where you should be aiming for.]

Where should we bring the outcome of the war? That was quite a hard problem for me.

There, I sensed a presence, took the Jewel in my hands, hung it around my neck, and closed my mouth.

The Third spoke.

[Oh my, she's already here.]

I heard some footsteps gradually getting closer. I turned my chair towards the door, as a somewhat violent knocking sound came from it.

"Come in."

When I said that, the door was roughly forced open.

Entering the room was an out of breath Shannon. Her breathing was all over the place, as she turned to me, and opened her mouth.

At first, her voice wouldn't come out as she wanted, so after a bit of silence.

"Lyle... there's a visitor for you."

Seeing her tired face, I smiled.

"Oh, I see. This mansion sure is vast."

I laughed and stood, as Shannon, who was getting a bit of a remedy for her lack of exercise glared at me in resentment.

"Then just sell it off already! I'm too scared to sleep at night, yet no one even brings up the thought of selling it! People call it a haunted house, you know!"

We purchased a famous haunted house in Beim, but a few days had already passed since I first got here. Nothing particularly strange had happened.

I'm sure the rumors just led to embellishment.

According to Novem, there was a dungeon in the basement, so perhaps that was the cause of some rumor.

"Even so, Alette-san moves quickly."

I took Shannon along, and left the room. I got the feeling she was keeping strangely close to me, but that must be because she was scared to be in the mansion alone.

When the shortened distance made it quite hard to walk, the Sixth spoke.

[Lyle, hold her hand.]

I thought it would be better than trying to move with this strange closeness, so I held my hand out to her.

She mulled over it a bit, before taking it in her own. So we walked down the corridor together, and headed towards the room prepared for guests.

After thinking over it a long while, Shannon spoke.

"I-I'm sure you're scared, so I don't mind holding your hand, okay!"

She said that, so...

"Yes, yes, many thanks."

When I gave a spirit-less response, she began complaining under her breath. I listened to them, as I thought over how to proceed talks with Alette-san.

(Now then, how will Lorphys treat us?)

Walking down the hallway, with sunlight streaming in through the windows, I worried for our future.

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The reception room of the manor.

Sitting on a sofa, with a table between us, I faced Alette-san.

Diagonally behind her, her adjutant stood with splendid posture, Monica took that same position behind me after she finished putting out the tea.

I really wonder why the maid was standing in the background.

(She's definitely mistaken about something.)

Complaining a bit about Monica, I was about to start up conversations with Alette-san. However, she was the first one to open her mouth.

"I heard you hired Creit. Could you be intending to participate in the coming war?"

I sipped my tea, saw she was looking downwards, and nodded.

"If you'll be on our side, we're acquaintances. You'll receive some favorable treatment. But if you'll be on the enemy camp, we'll show no mercy on the battlefield."

She sounded quite calm, but her atmosphere was somewhat sharp.

"We will be joining in. And if you're asking which camp we'll be in... well, I'm thinking of participating in my own personal fourth camp. How's that sound?"

The cup in her hands stopped, and she directed her field of vision at me. I continued with my explanations.

"On the return trip from a request, we picked up a large cargo. It ended up leading to us taking on a personal request, but in that case, rather than attaching ourselves to any side, it made the prospects of forming a fourth camp look more favorable."

When I said that with a smile, Alette-san made a serious expression.

"Us and Zayin... it's a problem of two countries, is it not?"

Right. That's what I thought at first. But that third party was behind Lorphys, waiting for them to weaken, or perhaps be erased altogether.

I...

"Let's skip the minor details. At first I was thinking to participate on Lorphys' camp. But that made me feel much too anxious. The royal princess... I don't want to be the one to say it, but she's quite awful."

... When I said that, the adjutant's expression turned sharp.

Alette-san held up her hand to calm him.

"... It seems you've heard a strange rumor or two, but our royal princess is a beautiful and wise one. The current war is quite a pain on her heart. If it were to let us evade war, then just give the mithril away, she said. If it were for the sake of her people, then she would not mourn the loss of fortune."

Lorphys had lost its king and queen, while the princess was an only child.

They were a small country, and they had their branch families with stake to the throne, but the royal princess was the one named as the successor. However, she had yet to be enthroned as queen.

It was in a dubious position.

That was the current state of Lorphys.

Alette-san confirmed with me the details of the third camp.

"Very well. Lyle-kun, you seem to believe there's already a third camp, but where will they come out? I'd definitely like to hear that. I've heard you used information dealers to collect a considerable amount of intel, after all."

She held the info that I was collecting info.

It's true I didn't really care about hiding that fact when I collected it up.

"... I'm thinking of Selva as the third party. They will come out when Lorphys is exhausted to an extent. They'll either hammer the final nail in the coffin, or offer some condescending assistance. I don't know which yet."

Alette-san breathed out a sigh.

Her adjutant was about to say something, but she waved her left hand dismissively to shut him up. Looking at me, she drained whatever remained in her cup of tea, and opened her mouth.

While Monica moved to give her a refill.

"That's right. Selva is also moving. But we're trying to do something before they can make their move. It seems you've investigated a bit, but sticking your head too far in will shorten your lifespan."

Those words could have been taken as a threat, but I shrugged my shoulders, sat deeper into the sofa, and continued my piece.

"I'd like to make a few requests. A meeting with Lorphys' crown princess. Zayin's former Holy Maiden Thelma-san, and the former High Priest Gastone-san. Finally, the former Holy Maiden candidate Aura-san. I'd like a meeting for the three of them."

On my words, Alette-san made a face of surprise.

"That would be Zayin's moderate faction. Quite a find... I see, you've picked up quite an outrageous package yet again. If you'll leave them with us, we'll be considerably grateful."

I shook my head.

"I already accepted their request. And we'll be having them hide for a while."

"What do you plan to do by meeting? You'll be aiding our side, I'm sure?"

On Alette-san's words, I nodded.

"I do want Lorphys to be the winning side. And Zayin has a lot coming to them. They should go through a bit of pain. While we're at it, I'd like to take Selva down a notch."

Alette-san made a perplexed expression.

"... For that, I'm thankful. But what exactly is your goal? Are you trying to build up a mercenary brigade? Rather than succeeding, I get the feeling the possibility of failure is greater in this instance."

I directed a smile at her.

"Oh, we'll win. And the preparations for that, are this time's meeting. I will assist Lorphys, and lead them to victory in the coming war. Well, there will be two countries on the winning side, though."

"Two countries?"

When she said that, Ispoke with a smile.

"So what will you do? Will a meeting with us and her highness be possible?"

Making a conflicted expression, Alette-san...

"All I can do is give a report. I'm not in a position to make a decision. It could be the case that an order will come to capture you by all means."

Seeing her give a fearless laugh, I spoke.

"And when it comes to that, I'll just be moving to Zayin."

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When Alette-san left the mansion, I went into the next preparations.

The hall on the first floor had plenty of space, and we would be holding an inaugural meeting there.

We hurriedly moved to make it presentable, put out tables, and lined up food and ale.

Novem and Monica prepared dishes one after the next, while Miranda, Aria, and Clara put them out.

May looked like she'd lay her hands on the food, so Shannon was keeping watch over her.

And Eva was...

"It's fine if I sing a light song, right?"

"Right. One that rouses the spirit would be nice."

In the hall I'd prepared, I heard the details of the song from Eva. In order to make things livelier, I asked her to sing.

"... I don't like how I'm not the main act, but I guess all's well as long as I can sing. How many can we expect?"

She seemed a little unsatisfied, but seeing the number of tables lined up, she ended up asking that.

"Ah, right. I never told you. You were out shopping, and you helped prepare the outfits."

So while everyone was busy preparing, I informed Eva.

"The ones coming are Creit-san's party, and other dreamer adventurers hoping to hop on board this story. Creit-san's acquaintances as well. Small parties, and ones formerly knights of some other country are coming as well. Speaking to the scale, around a hundred, perhaps?"

We scraped up all we could, and at present, that was out limit.

"... So you gathered up a hundred? And you're going to be picking a fight with Zayin without borrowing Lorphys' power? Even if you plan on directing a small force with tactics, you'll be fighting with those numbers alone?"

I smiled.

"Don't worry. That includes support, so the ones who can fight are less than half that. Equipment won't make it in time, so this time, it'll count for around thirty people."

Eva seemed taken aback as she looked at me. The enemy numbered in the tens of thousands, so there was no helping it. Because with that, us included, we would be bringing the fight with force of around forty.

I understand why she felt like making light of it.

"I-it's alright. Believe in me. Even like this, I'm a man who doesn't do the impossible."

Shen I said that, she let out a light sigh.

"I'd prefer it you said that with an expression filled with confidence. Like the one you had not too long ago. Well, I decided to follow along, so I won't oppose. And if you succeed, there's no doubt it'll be a hero's tale. I'll just add this on, but please don't die before you confess. I'm really looking forward to it."

When she teased me at the end, I felt my face redden, and averted my eyes.

And Thelma-san and Aura-san came over to us.

They were wearing Monica's homemade garments, creating quite an atmosphere. Wearing those white dresses that looked as if they were stuck fast on their bodies, both of them seemed embarrassed.

Aura-san...

"Hey, what is that maid of yours thinking!? Clothes like these that show off so many lines... what's more, she called our normal clothing uncharitable!"

Seeing what Monica had put Thelma-san and Aura-san... as well as the rest of the consecrated virgins in, I had a single thought.

"Putting the virgins in sister uniforms... she's definitely mistaken about something."

But when I told her that, she merely replied, 'you are the one who doesn't get it.' And when she made outfits for High Priest Gastone-san, and the girls, they were all quite showy.

Thelma-san spoke shyly.

"This one is a bit too embarrassing. Is there nothing to drape over it?"

Seeing her fidget, Eva...

"Isn't it fine? It barely shows any actual skin. I'd have increased the exposure level myself."

Quite a few of Eva's stage outfits were quite extreme. No, wait, she didn't have many, but all of them were extreme.

Aura spoke in irritation.

"Don't ruin the Holy Maiden's image! That maid scoffed when she looked at my chest!"

Seeing her cover up her reserved chest with her right arm, I looked at the ornaments on her arms and head. Everything Monica produced was of superb craftsmanship.

A few of them were bought and worked in, but her touch was splendid.

"No, Monica was in a hurry, and there's no more time, so there's nothing we can do. And Gastone-san looks kinda satisfied."

We directed our eyes towards Gastone's advance into the hall.

He was wearing the outfit that'd been made for him, and as it was for male usage, it had little exposure, but it was still flashy. His hat was narrow and long, while his robes looked spacious. He seemed quite satisfied with his white and blue High Priest attire.

According to the man himself, it was more comfortable to wear than what he usually had to put on. Apparently.

(Monica is too multi-purpose. If she can finish up modifying Porter, we'll be done with all the preparations. We'll have to hurry up with preparing for Zayin's side.)

So we hurried to prepare the party... the inaugural assembly, and I verified something with Thelma-san.

"Ah, sorry to change the subject, but make sure you take care of that matter."

Thelma-san looked towards me, and nodded.

"Without a doubt. In the first place, if you're going to attain victory with this number of troops, that's enough reason to get you in government. By the way, are you really planning to march into war with fifty soldiers? I'm an amateur in that field, but I don't think taking down a large force with few numbers is as easy as the fairy tales make it."

Aura-san stuck her glare on me.

"How much war experience do you have?"

Her eyes were doubtful, and perhaps because she was wearing an outfit she detested, she was taking it out on me.

I gripped the Jewel once.

"Well, a considerable amount. And it's not like I'm going to be fighting an army of ten thousands, you know. I'm not going to march on the main battlefront."

Hearing that, both Aura-san and Thelma-san made faces of surprise.

Eva alone was...

"Hey wait, then even if I put it to song, it's not going to be very exciting."

She seemed quite disappointed.