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Chapter 18: Brother Maksim

Brother Maksim

Before the monster army that did nothing but try to press on, I raised my right hand high.

Lowering it down to eye level, I raised my voice.

The fortress was unlike the first or second wall, boasting a splendid construction worthy of its fortress title. I doubt it would break so easily.

The knights and soldiers in the sturdy fortress maybe a bit lacking in judgement, looked a bit relieved within its walls.

"First through third squadrons, fire!"

Our forces were divided in four, and three of them shot their magic towards the large-scale army of monsters. Fire, wind, and earth came down on them, and to block it, the monsters deployed their Magic Shield as well.

A semi-transparent yellow light rose to try and defend, but breaking through them, the magic came raining down.

The opposite of our initial position.

"Is the oil ready?"

When I said that, the answer came from the one commanding the modified siege weapon inside the fortress, Clara.

[All clear. We can fire anytime.]

"Then scatter it flashily."

Hearing my voice, barrels of oil came flying out of the fortress one after the next. They passed over we who were at the fortress' highest point, and began raining down on the monsters.

After a sufficient number of barrels were fired, I...

"Fourth squadron, use fire attribute."

A moment later, fire attribute magic was fired. A majority of it was blocked, but as long as a single portion of it was set alight, it wouldn't be a problem.

The scattered barrels burst, and splattered their surroundings in oil. Once ignited, they began to blaze up.

I watched the scene.

"Miranda, Eva."

Calling out to the two of them, I had the magician and knight casters step back, replacing them with elves and soldiers with guns.

From the fortress walls, Boosted Arrows and guns were fired. The sounds of explosions and gunshots rung out as they continued coming down on the blazing monsters.

And trampling over the monsters that had been rendered immobile, the next wave of monsters advanced.

"... Prepare the cannons."

On my words, the cannons breathed flames in succession.

And in that space of time, the catapults and magics were prepared once more.

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... In the fortress' interior, Shannon was helping out.

She was carrying out miscellaneous tasks by Novem's side, but there were crowds of injured troops around.

While many knights and soldiers experienced 'Growth', and had to withdraw, it wasn't as if there wasn't anyone being injured. In pain, some had even lost an arm or a leg.

"Goddammit, why was I..."

"My eyes... someone turn on the lights..."

"Mother... mother..."

If there was to be another battlefield in this war, then surely she was standing on it. Or so Shannon thought as she followed behind Novem.

Approaching the injured newly brought in, Novem immediately started treatment through magic. There were other magicians capable of healing magic as well, but with so many being brought in one after the next, the countermeasures couldn't catch up.

Among them...

"Of course not. You're injured!"

One of the other magicians was trying to stop a patient.

"Shut it! I'm gonna avenge my men! I'm gonna kill every last one of those monster bastards out there!"

A knight with his body wrapped in bandages took his weapon in hand, and tried to go out.

As Shannon watched in the corner of her eye, Novem spoke as she treated another patient.

"Shannon-chan, bandages."

"Eh? Ah, yes."

After she handed a bandage over, Novem disinfected the wound, and wrapped it. If she handled each and every wound with magic, Novem would collapse.

Once she had nimbly finished first aid, the collapsed soldier...

"T-thank you."

... Spoke.

Novem smiled.

"Don't mind it. You'll be right as rain in no time."

Saying that, she stood, and headed off to the next patient being carried in.

There were some who gave thanks. Upon hearing she was one of Lyle's comrades, there were some who rained her with insults.

In such a place, Novem continued carrying out treatment.

To Shannon, it looked as if Novem was accepting all the negative emotions as Lyle built up his fame.

His other comrades were all carrying out their varied roles. Within all that, Shannon thought.

(Just what should I... what do I even want to do?)

She thought...

-

-

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... In a room of the fortress, Adele was calculating on a table.

Food and materials, with personnel placement, there were many things that had to be done.

Damien was also in the room, and his maids were looking after him. While they were at it, they attended to Adele as well. Right, stressing the, 'while they were at it' part.

They were still a help, so she had no complaints, but Adele...

"Arrows, bullets... it all flows away like water down the stream. It's strange. This is strange... our money... our gold is running far, far away."

Moving men wasn't free. Calculating it all, an outrageous amount of money was circulating around.

This was different from the sort of war Adele knew of. It was so different her eyes were getting teary.

Seeing her like that, Damien spoke.

"Isn't it fine? It was someone else's money to begin with."

There, Adele hit her hands against the table, and used the recoil to stand.

"What will that thought process ever accomplish!? From here on, no matter how much money we get, it won't be enough! Have you not forgotten your own research funds were someone else's money!?"

Damien took a sip of the tea in his cup.

"Well, well, just go ask Lyle, and he'll seduce another rich lass for you. I've begun to realize it lately, you know. If Lyle sweet talks the daughters of Beim's rich guys, then he could even move the city of Beim to his will."

Hearing Damien's story, Adele's face cramped up.

"There's no way he could do that. And wait, even if he could, that would make Lyle-san no different from Celes, would it not?"

Damien pouted.

"You think so? Lyle's got a strange sense of integrity, so I do think he'll properly take responsibility. See, no one will be unhappy here."

Seeing him let out a dry laugh, Adele pressed a hand to her face.

"... The misfortune falls on those concerned with those rich lasses of yours. In truth, it does seem the Trēs House's head is considerably angry right now."

Letting out a sigh, Adele turned her interest to the state of the battlefield.

Her guard Maksim was also out on the field. And so she prayed he wouldn't get injured...

-

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... On top of the fortress walls, Maksim took on the monsters climbing up.

Wearing a metal protector over his forehead, he held up his spear and dispatched monster after monster on the fortress ground.

The more he defeated, the more monster corpses piled up below, allowing more species of monsters to try climbing up.

"Step back!!"

While he swung about his spear in a grand fashion, his attacks never touched an ally.

He impaled a monster that climbed up, and flung him off outside the wall.

The knights who carried the same role as him watched his fighting style in shock.

"He's strong."

"Who is he? A famed knight?"

Hearing those voices, Maksim recalled those that had been his friends and rivals in Bahnseim.

(I guess there's no way my name would be known in foreign lands. Just goes to show how vast the world is...)

His thoughts turning to his comrades defeated by Celes, Maksim swung his spear. At that moment, a Hippogryph started down in a nosedive.

Maksim turned his left hand to the monster.

"[Sand Arm]"

He used a magic. It was no ordinary magic, but a magic he used so often it had cemented itself as his Skill.

An arm fashioned of hardened sand, boasting an appearance as if it were clad in armor. Its giant hand grasped the flying Hippogryph, and crushed it to death.

A former knight adept in magic and spears... Maksim Danhel... back in Bahnseim, he was even named among the greatest of knights.

"Sorry, but for milady's sake, I can't be losing. From here on, not a single one shall pass!"

Within a state of constant monster attack, Lyle's forces were somehow holding out...

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In the highest, and most conspicuous point of the fortress, I took command.

I transmitted between comrades connected with Connection, and watched the state of the whole as I gave out orders.

Which would need what number of men.

Which squad to withdraw, and what timing to send reinforcements with.

I was giving out those sorts of orders, but for some reason, I felt I was just acting as a relay station. I processed all the information flooding in, and put out orders based on them.

Perhaps because I was in such a conspicuous point, monsters wouldn't stop targeting me. But I didn't have to raise a hand. The reason being...

"You're in the way!"

The monsters that made it to me were hit out of the walls with Monica's hammer.

The monsters hit with that giant hammer fell apart in midair, and rained down in quite a horrible state.

And around us, the Valkyries were also on standby. From the binders on their backs, they took out guns, and attacked the approaching monsters.

Their precise marksmanship was one thing, but even if the monsters came close, they could easily deal with them.

(The problem is the Mana. These guys consume it like crazy.)

My Mana pool had increased, but with Skills, four automatons, and a Jewel... with all of them draining it from me, containing Mana consumption was a crucial task.

(If I have to mobilize more units, I'll be rendered immobile.)

Short term may be fine, but I concluded that moving a number of Valkyries over a long term would be impossible.

While I thought over it, Monica waved her hand at me.

"Did you see, Chicken Dickwad!? The valor of Monica! Mighty in combat, almighty in housework! I'm on a different level than those degraded scraps littered around!"

As Monica delightfully waved her hands, the Valkyries expressionlessly pointed their gunpoints at her. I felt they would pull the trigger without the slightest hesitation.

"Take this seriously! Monica, don't rile them up!"

Valkyrie Unit One blatantly clicked her tongue.

"Che, looks like master's saved you, scrap metal."

There, Monica held up her giant hammer.

"Unfortunate accidents are an everyday occurance on the battlefield. I'll scrap you, and use that scrapping as vital data for future experiments!"

I addressed Clara.

"... Clara, how are things on your side?"

As we were bound by Connection, she could see my situation as well.

[... Next preparations are in place. Gunpowder was fine, right?]

As she said that, Aria butted in. Aria was inside the fortress, managing the cannons.

[Ready over here too. But it looks like we won't be able to fire for a while after this one. Something about washing the barrels or something.]

(Cleaning out the cannons? Then we'll have to scatter some magic for a while.)

I addressed everyone.

[You heard her. Next we'll be using a consecutive stream of small-scale magic.]

There, from Miranda.

[It's a bit rough here. The main knights fell back. Can we send out Alette-san yet?]

On those words, I made a conflicted expression.

"... Shannon, go check on her."

The conversation suddenly turning to her, Shannon sounded reluctant.

[Eck, me?]

There, Novem spoke to her.

[Please go, Shannon-chan. And you can have a bit of a break afterwards.]

Reluctant as she was, Shannon went off to confirm Alette-san's condition.

-

-

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... Shannon arrived at a special space within the fortress.

It was prepared as a dungeon, but it wasn't like there were any criminals to imprison there.

The dubious post-Growth troops were locked up there.

As Shannon set foot in...

"If I'm not there, everyone will... I'm begging you! Let me out of here!"

"The time hath finally arrived to remove the seal on this left arm of mine. I don't want anymore to die..."

"... Perhaps I'm done for already. Perhaps I'm no good. Taking it out on Albano... just how petty a man am I?"

The last one, cradling his knees as he looked at the wall, was Creit. It seems that to contrast his usual high tensions, his post-Growth left him depressed.

She couldn't watch.

For a different reason than the injured patients, Shannon couldn't bring herself to watch.

And heading to her destination cell, she found Alette tied up, rolling on the floor.

It was the knights of Lorphys. Meaning Alette's subordinates who did it. Saying they couldn't let their captain show off such a horrid state, they spun rope upon rope around her, and shoved her in a cell.

Alette was left showing her back to Shannon.

"Are you alright? Can you come out yet?

When she asked, Alette shifted her weight, and rolled to face Shannon.

"I'm fine. I properly have my marriage registration form with me. My preparations for a romance breaking out on the battlefield are perfect!"

Shannon made a fed-up expression.

"Hey, do you carry that around with you regularly?"

Alette made an exceedingly nice smile.

"Of course."

Or so she said. Shannon thought perhaps it was hopeless.

"Didn't you say you didn't have it last time?"

"Hmm, 'twas my embarrassment. I've never let it leave my hands, and I've made it easily accessible so as not to let the chance slip by. I even have spares."

Shannon let out a sigh, before signaling to Lyle.

[It's no good.]

Sending the message, she began her way out of the room lined with cells.

"W-wait! Come to think of it, there was that headbanded, muscular, beautiful knight, right!? Could you tell me his name!? I've fallen for his skill with the spear. I want him to pierce me too!"

Shannon turned back to Alette.

"You mean Maksim-niisan? But he's already got someone he likes, you know? Quite wholeheartedly. Though I have to say it'll be quite harsh given their ages."

There, Alette rolled her way back against the wall.

"Then nay."

She seemed quite depressed. At that moment, Miranda sent a voice to Shannon through Connection.

[What are you doing Shannon!? Here's where you give her a glimmer of hope! You can make use of that hope in however many ways you want to later. Even so, she's still out of it... people with a big Growth gap are so...]

Shannon thought...

(Even as her sister, how horrible, I say. And wait, Maksim-niisan's a good person, so if possible, I'd like him to get with Adele-san.)