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Chapter 13: Fortress Redan

Fortress Redant

That place was once a fort.

But now it had become a triple-walled fortress enclosing an army of ten thousands.

Fort Redant, now Fortress Redant had begun to get its shape together.

I gripped the Jewel, riding quilin-form May, as I looked down at the fortress from above. I got a grasp of the area's three dimensional map produced from my Skills, and as I looked at the fortress, I conversed with my ancestors in the Jewel.

At times like these, I'm thankful there's someone like May, who understands the situation.

The Fifth confirmed the fortress.

[Anti-magic defense can just be kept to the surface. We don't have time, so build it with one-time use as the premise. As long as you pour your zeal into the final wall, it's fine if the other two break.]

We smeared the outside with a thin layer of material that reflected Mana. That alone made quite a difference, but it wasn't reliable enough against an army of hundred thousands.

Originally, the entirety of the fortress' construction would be made of material strong to Mana. But we didn't have that sort of time, so the idea was rejected.

I also confirmed the traps. Since it was estimated from the start that the first two walls would be breached, we planned to set traps between them.

The Third looked at the fortress headed for its completion as he spoke.

[Oil, gunpowder, and arrows... it's not enough, but it leaves you with quite a few means. The problem would have to be the sky.]

It's been said that when facing an army of monsters, the greatest problem becomes the ones that fly through the sky.

I've yet to experience a battle of armies on this scale, but it seems there was a large difference between man and monsters.

The fact that monsters knew no retreat.

If man knew he had no chance of victory, he could step down if he so desired. But monsters had no such concept, pressing forward until the very end.

Because of that, it was possible to catch them with obvious traps. But their ability to break through them was something else.

And of those monsters able to break through most everything, the greatest pain was the flying ones. They pass right over ramparts, and can even attack from the rear.

If they flew up high enough, they were foes difficult to lay hands on. More than anything, if a powerful monster- say a Gryphon- were to land atop the walls, the rank and file soldiers wouldn't be enough to handle it.

I looked in the direction of the fortress, laying in wait for the monster assault.

"We could keep chipping down at them. But I doubt that would actually inflict much damage to their side."

The first time, I borrowed Shannon's eyes to do recon.

And the second trip, I went with May to whittle away the troublesome monsters.

The third time... I rained a few hundred arrows on them, but the monsters specialized in magic were able to block them.

Flying monsters alone made a few thousand, I'm sure. What I defeated wouldn't even make up a hundred of them.

I wanted to keep chipping down at them like this, but I had another job to do.

"Personally, I'd like to just attack, and crush them. Is there really a need for me to go out of my way to make an appearance? You humans really are obsessive over that sort of thing."

As May shook her head tiredly, she was linked with Connection, so the Fifth was able to call over to her.

[Please endure it, May. It's at times like these that morale is more important than all else. Monsters don't have such a thing, but humans need a will to fight.]

If they didn't have that, the human side would crumble oh so easily.

No matter how certain I was we could win, that would be pointless if the others didn't believe that as well.

"Do your best, me!"

Seeing her get so motivated on the Fifth's words, I gave a bitter smile.

I confirmed the traps on their course.

We had prepared all we could, but the ancestors said that something of this level wouldn't drop their numbers too much.

According to them, it was just on the level of better than doing nothing. Pitfalls would instantly be filled in, and trampled over. Against a hundred thousand monsters, if the traps put a few thousand to rest, it was only a measurement error.

On top of that, this time's monster army... the worst part was that it was well balanced.

With airborne forces, and plenty of monsters skilled in magic. I doubt they would have any sort of coordination, but I could already see the sight of them concentrating their magic fire on the fortress.

Not have a fortress built on that land for nothing, there were cliffs around, putting a limit on enemy passage. If I could call that a saving grace, I would.

The Seventh opened his mouth.

[Well, the ones holed in the fortress have the advantage. Though the enemy's more than ten times.]

Thinking just of troop numbers, it looks like they would definitely break through.

"Well, we did whatever we could."

The Fourth nodded favorably.

[Right. You've done pretty much everything you could do in this short period of time. You've turned a fort to a fortress to confront Bahnseim in the future. You've taken in the elves, and had them publicize you as the hero standing against overwhelming odds. Though we could do with a bit more of a fighting force.]

Zayin and Lorphys... we had borrowed soldiers from them.

To those two countries, it was surely a troublesome talk. The upper echelon may be rejoicing over its reduced debt, but to the lower ends, it was simply outrageous.

The mercenaries and adventurer had, to defend their city of Beim, hardened their defenses around the urban center for a defensive war.

We recruited volunteer soldiers from the villages near the border, but they didn't even reach a thousand. If we were to continue gathering them, just how many could we get... what's more, they wouldn't be that useful as soldiers in the first place.

While they had weapons, they hadn't undergone the training of a soldier.

(Well, it's not like our goal is to get them to fight, though.)

At times like these, Beim didn't have to gather its civilians as soldiers. So trying to do so wasn't very productive.

The Third spoke.

[Now then, Lyle. The circumstances are hopeless. It's a mistake to try and challenge this situation! Anyone would think that.]

"I'm sure they would. But..."

[... That's the best part!]

I could somehow imagine the Third's scheming smile in my mind.

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... Beim's eastern Guild branch.

Behind her receptions counter, Marianne was releasing her wrath.

"I told you no already! Your party isn't being forced to participate. There's no meaning in pointlessly throwing down your lives!"

The one she confronted was Erhart. Before the wrath that shattered her usual fluffy atmosphere, the surrounding adventurers, and Erhart's party looked quite confused.

Her fellow receptionists were also looking at her in shock.

"B-but Marianne-san. We've already gotten all our equipment in order... and if we join in, there will be a reward. If we work outside the city, the sum we'll get springs right up."

Even the usually stubborn Erhart was stumbling over his words in front of Marianne's anger.

"Because you've only just gotten your equipment together, you think you've become first-rate? Just stop it right there. Listen here, if you keep thinking like that, you're definitely going to die! All you've done up to now is odd jobs, and you've occasionally hunted monsters outside in the space between them. So how strong have you gotten in a couple of months? Do you really understand that?"

Her role was to offer kind words to new recruits, but this time the individual herself had forgotten her own job.

Erhart spoke.

"W-what's with you? We're no chopped liver! You're the one who said we had talent, aren't you!?"

Marianne looked down, and bit her lower lip. She clenched her fist, and she felt she was about to cry, but she endured, and made the most repulsive smile she could muster.

"I'd say it to anyone. It's not like you lot were special or anything. There are plenty adventurers of your caliber around. Because some petty praise was enough to make you do the jobs no one wanted, I merely dealt with you amiably."

Stroking her hair, she turned a mocking smile to Erhart's party.

"S-so that's how you've been thinking of us up to now!? We were truly thankful for you, Marianne-san, and we wanted to..."

"Hah? Don't get so stuck up. And what of it? Now go pick a job you're actually capable of already, and don't get in the way of my work, won't you?"

What Marianne proceeded to hand Erhart was a manual labor request for building up the city's defenses. A non-combatant role.

Erhart's party hung their heads. Of his comrades, there was even one letting his tears flow.

The words of their kind and reliable elder sister-like existence had brought about a terrible shock.

Erhart silently signed the document, before crushing it in his hand, and slamming it down on the table.

"... I believed in you."

Marianne filed that form with a shameless attitude, and handed an envelope over. And after snatching it from her hands, Erhart's party left the counter.

Seeing them like that, Marianne lowered her shoulders in relief.

Tanya immediately came to Marianne's side.

"Marianne, you've been summoned."

Thinking she'd really screwed up, Marianne made a hazy smile as she stood, and proceeded straight to her superior's room.

Tanya took over the counter in her stead, and kept the adventurers company...

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... The superior's room.

Hearing Marianne's report of the circumstances, the supervisor didn't seem all too angry.

"Marianne, I had thought you more clever than that. If they wish for it, what harm is there in sending an adventurer party or two to the front lines? It's nothing you should feel responsible for."

Marianne cast her eyes down.

As she reported to her boss, he was smiling ever-so-slightly.

"You're... right. Even so, when I watch over them, my feelings boil up. Those children still have futures ahead of them. Letting them die here is..."

Perhaps her superior understood her sentiment, as he let out a sigh.

"It's precisely because you're like that, that you're in charge of the new recruits. But today's matter will spread in an instant. Since you played the bad guy to stop them, it will become a hindrance to your work. So from here on, I'll be having you man the desks on the third floor. No more newbies for you... do your best in your new post."

On her superior's words, Marianne felt like crying again. Not from joy. But as she felt they were about to come out, she held a hand to her mouth.

"... Thank you very much. I shall get right to it."

After giving such a reply, she left the room...

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... With her work reaching a good point to go off shift, Tanya headed for the break room, and ran into Rühe.

"Ah, good work, Tanya-san!"

Bright and energetic, she took a bit of an oversized attitude towards her superiors, but she knew not to do that to those she couldn't oppose at all costs.

And she was skillfully spending her days at this workplace.

"Likewise. How are things going on your end?"

When Tanya sat and asked, Rühe gave a delighted smile.

"We've safely managed to get adventurers to dispatch to the important points outside the city. The reward was a good one, and if I was the one asking, then... they said."

Seeing her speak so pleasantly, Tanya recalled. Still young, the generation that hadn't experienced the last rampaging Labyrinth.

That was the age Rühe was part of.

"... So when I asked an adventurer I knew really well, he took it on! Said there was something he wanted to tell me when he got back!"

From Rühe's attitude, it seems she got on considerably well with that adventurer. And hearing that, the veteran receptionists sent eyes of sympathy her way.

Tanya had a general estimate of what sort of man that adventurer was. An adventurer classified as proficient, but in the sense of how the Guild perceived him, that was.

If you were to ask him if he was really strong, he would only shake his head.

Rühe struck up a conversation with Marianne.

"Even so, could it be you've finally reached your limit? Those sorts of adventurers with nothing but ulterior motives on their mind really do send the vilest of glances, after all. You have my sympathy."

What Tanya, and the other senior adventurers remembered as they looked at Rühe, was Marianne.

When she had only just become a receptionist, she had been beautiful and kind, and popular. And with all the flattery she received, she had taken on a Rühe-esque behavior.

Tanya thought.

(I do pray you don't become the second Marianne, Rühe.)

As the Guild was moving around busily, Tanya felt a form of generation shift taking place in the office...

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Redant Fortress.

As I stood on a high point of the structure, there were flags around. There was one of Beim, but around it were the flags of Zayin, Lorphys... and the Walt House as well.

That flag that took after the Blue Jewel being hung from its silver ornaments was something I made of my own accord.

Wearing blue armor I had a smith finish up, I held my helmet under my right arm, and turned.

The numbers we'd gathered were just over twenty six thousand. It was lower than estimated, but I thought that couldn't be helped.

And as the morning sun rose, I saw a black shadow on the other side of the horizon. An army of monsters.

"Gentlemen! I'm sure a majority of you are thinking this: 'Why is it that we must bet our lives for the likes of Beim?' .... 'Why should we listen to the orders of a whelp like me' ..."

I wrung out a loud voice, holding out my left hand. The armed army remained in silence.

"This fight. It truly is only for Beim's benefit. Beim is moving with the breach of this fortress as a premise. Refusing my call to dispatch adventurers, they concentrate their powers on defense of the city, and only send adventurers and mercenaries to the points they deem important!"

Yes, quite a terrible tale there. Of course, I'm sure Beim had a lot they'd want to say in response, but there wasn't anyone from Beim here, so that wasn't a problem.

I didn't lie either.

"It truly is unfair. You who pledged your lives to your motherlands are to fight for the sake of some other nation... but is it really alright to abandon Beim!? Is it really right to watch Beim's suffering from the sidelines!? It isn't just Beim who shall be unreasonably trampled down by monsters! All the people who live on these lands shall suffer the same fate! And I cannot permit that!"

From the Jewel, I heard the Fourth's voice.

[Yep, looking good. You've got to make a grand proclamation here on how you're different from Celes.]

Milleia-san chimed in to shoot him down.

[Even if they're different, this is still quite dubious. He isn't lying, but he isn't giving the whole truth either.]

This address... it's not like it was only directed to the soldiers alone. More than that, it was meant for Beim's civilians that we had gathered here.

I'm working hard, but Beim abandoned you, is the point I'm trying to appeal.

As I continued the address, I pulled a sword that looked the part from my waist. It wasn't a katana, but a double edged sword for appearance's sake. I pointed it at the heavens, and wrung out my voice.

"If fate is to lie in this plight of mine, the goddesses will surely answer to it! Here I swear, I will protect this point for the sake of the people to be trampled underfoot!"

At the moment, May raced down from the sky in her quilin form. The soldiers looking up watched the quilin, and raised their voices.

"O-oy! It's a quilin!"

"No way. Could this really be fate..."

"It couldn't be, no it has to be..."

"We can win. We can win this!"

"Yeah, there's a quilin on our side!"

(As expected of the symbol of good fortune.)

I had concealed her existence up to now, but opted to use it here.

Favorable opinions started to come out. Naturally, they were shills. The ancestors didn't loosen their hands on these finer preparations.

As May descended to my side, the soldiers raised cheers of joy. I could see the morale rising before my eyes. And I felt their heat was even going to reach me up here.

"We have the grace of the goddess! Our fortress of Redant shall be the graveyard of those vile legions! Just follow my lead!"

When I raised my voice, the voices of soldiers calling my name overlapped a few ten thousand times, creating something quite magnificent.

(Damn, deceiving them leaves a bad taste in my mouth.)

I loathed myself for performing this morale raising address.