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Chapter 1: Corps of Iron Pipes

Corps of Iron Pipes

... The Beim invasion force of close to three hundred thousand before them, the main members gathered to hold a meeting.

There were nobles exceeding Baron Class joining in, and generals and knight brigade chiefs sent from the center. On top of that, Breid of Celes' royal guard joined in on the meeting.

And as expected, the meeting's topic of discussion concentrated on Redant Fortress. If they avoided breaching it, the march alone would bring out victims. Rather than sending in a fragmented number to put out casualties, they wanted to breach the fortress and proceed straight to Beim, or so was the general consensus of those discussing.

Dragged into it with his force of five thousand, Blois listened to the discussions, as he thought over this time's march on Beim.

(Now then, the main members are almost all folks that worship Celes, and the most troublesome would have to be that head of the royal guards, eh?)

Royal Guard. It was something Celes had arbitrarily gathered in Centralle from those that yearned for her, and stuck a name on. It's not as if they had any particular job, and they merely tried to stay by her side. While they fell short of the handsome men that surrounded her, they were a group that was as if they were grouped from the make of their faces.

Among them, Breid was the one with actual achievements, so he was considered the leader.

He had participated in suppressing a number of civil uprisings, and with those merits, they didn't have any particular complaints. No, even if they did, no one voiced them. Because it was something Celes had decided.

However, that Breid was now leading thirty thousand men, and participating in the invasion of Beim. A considerable authority... with the backing of Celes' royal guard, it was quite a large force within the current Bahnseim.

As Breid put out more opinions than necessary at the conference, Blois was disconcerted.

"I believe it best we have another force cross the mountains, and circle around back for a pincer attack."

If a pincer was possible, someone would have said that from the start.

(It's because that's impossible that we're conquering them head on, is what we're trying to say. Even if we did traverse those mountains, just how much casualties would come out... and just how much time do you think that would take?)

Lacking in experience leading a unit, and Breid was the type to put himself in the front of the front. It would be a saving grace if he had the ability to back it up, but unfortunately, the problem lay in his lack of it.

The other generals and knight chiefs and Lords upon hearing his opinion.

"A wonderful proposition. But we have not the equipment to scale mountains. Even if we wished to volunteer for the task, we are insufficient."

"I am the same. I wonder just many forces are there among us with enough training to accomplish such a feat? As expected of Centralle's elites."

"Then why not Breid-dono cross the mountains and circle around back? The rest of us will be attacking head on as planned, mind you."

Being handled so lightly, Breid's expression changed. He directed a glare around.

(With the numbers we have, if we clash head on, we'll win quite plainly. Or rather, Breid-dono seems to favor scheming a bit. It's quite hard for a small force to break through so many. Does he understand that...)

Generally, battles were of numbers. At times, there were existences that could overturn a difference in number, and such existences were weak to underhanded means, or so was Blois' opinion. By the strength of their power, they couldn't help but find conceit most of the time.

Breid hit the table to gather everyone's eyes.

"Very well. Centralle's elite force shall circle around the back for you. You all need only put out your mountains of casualties as you fixate on your frontal assault!"

Blois looked at Breid, as he touched a hand to his chin.

(I heard he had achievements in the Gryphon extermination, but does that mean the commander was a talented one? I believe they had a commander called Norma or something... but by rumor, you can't call her anything great. As I thought, that boy of the Walt House was involved.)

The force that accomplished a task as large as taking down a Gryphon. There was a time when that had caused a bit of a panic at the palace.

Even now, Blois could remember that time, and with Breid on his mind, he had investigated it again. But by the merits he had been given, it couldn't help but seem the man was lacking in ability.

(It's not like his military prowess is anything special. No, by the documents, he's supposed to be a relatively proficient knight, but...)

With Lyle conceding the achievements, and by landing the finishing blow on a knight mainly defeated by Celes, Breid had earned himself quite a high evaluation.

(This is more troublesome than I thought.)

Blois thought, as he listened in on the continuation of the conference...




... Fortress Redant.

In it, adventurers and soldiers of Beim. And with a means of gathering volunteer soldiers from its residents- a means Beim had never used before- troops exceeding fifty thousand had gathered.

The reinforced fortress had reduced the three layers of walls it once had to two. But they were more outfitted than before, and their strength and function had been sufficiently enhanced.

To continue employing fifty thousand would be difficult, but even so, it was more than possible temporarily.

And Beim seemed relieved at the number of soldiers at the fortress.

"The fortress has grown stronger than before, with more troops to boot. It's taken down an even larger force of monsters before. We'll be the victors this time."

"If there's anything to be frustrated over, it's that the previous situation was so harsh that even if we win here, it would be hard to get any evaluation, I guess?"

"Reinforcements will be coming from the city. Once we turn Bahnseim back here, it will be the end. Thought it would be nice if they concentrated more on this point rather than the city."

The volunteer soldiers equipped armaments made by Beim's craftsmen. However, by those craftsmen... the various stores put to work, their outfits were all over the place, and their weapons weren't uniform.

They gave off the impression of a gathering of mercenaries.

Observing them was Rauno, dressed in equipment he had found inside the fortress. Their guard was too lax, and their soldiers lacked tension or consistency, so he was easily able to slip inside.

As he sat atop a wooden crate, he drank with unfamiliar soldiers as he gathered information.

"Hmm, so is any information coming in from Bahnseim?"

To Rauno's surprise, one of the soldier's ale-reddened face turned, and made fun of him.

"You don't even know something so basic? They've got mercs on their side. Friends, and the ones with debt to Beim are passing on info. For that army of Bahnseim, it'll all be over once they flee before the miracle of Redant Fortress!"

The miracle of Redant Fortress... It was the heroic tale of Lyle annihilating an army of several hundreds of thousands of monsters, spread and embellished by minstrels.

Rauno sent a glance around to make sure no one noticed him. Taking some small sips of his drink, he took in surrounding movements.

(... They're considerably in for it. It may be the case this fortress gets breached faster than expected. With that Bahnseim lot bringing so large a force, I'm amazed they can forget to lay the groundwork to such an extent.)

From Cartaffs to Bahnseim's north and the east, he had gathered information, and having infiltrated the fortress, Rauno was set to gather information there before returning to South Beim.

(Their equipment is in order, but their atmosphere and the command line are screwed. This is going just as Lyle's party anticipated.)

Even Beim had soldiers. But it's not as if they had a chance for proper training. The volunteer soldiers were the sorts that had only ever gone out to the surrounding villages and defeated monsters.

Even if their equipment was nice, the contents were low in quality.

To melt into the surroundings, Rauno played the drunkard as he felt a grave sense of danger at the fortress' lack of it...




South Beim.

There, I met the heir to the Randbergh House's main branch... a young man called Baldoir Randbergh.

"It has been a while, Lyle-sama."

Pledging loyalty on a knee in knight attire, Baldoir-san... no, Baldoir had met me eight or nine years ago, apparently.

After that, he ventured out from his house for training. On top of that, once he returned, he helped the head, and spent his time on his territory, so he was an individual uncharmed by Celes.

Even with the Sixth's Skill, Baldoir's reaction was displayed in blue.

"Good of you to have come, Baldoir. My apologies, but I'll be putting you to work for my sake."

He stood.

"Leave it to me. Out head has told me to fight for you. And the Randbergh House is a House with a debt to the Walts. You'll certainly see how useful I can be. Order however you will."

I didn't have the memories of meeting him before, and I felt a little bad for not remembering. But to be honest, I was too busy at present to talk about that.

"Hearing that is a relief. In that case, the three hundred fifty troops you brought will come under my direct command. While I do feel sorry, I'll be swapping out their equipment. I'll properly return their original equipment, and you can do as you please with the armor I'm handing out. However, don't sell it off."

In the office of my simple estate in South Beim, Baldoir was a little confused.

"I understand that you're short on troops, but are you certain? If you have the money to pay for the equipment of three hundred fifty men, should you not hire more?"

I sat in a chair, and faced the desk. I had been processing the mountainous pile of forms on it, and after finishing another of them, I turned my eyes to Baldoir.

"No problem. I'll procure the troops I lack from the eastern front. And I've already gotten the equipment for three thousand together."

The craftsmen under old Letarta, and the ones that migrated in... on top of the smiths of the four-country alliance and Cartaffs; I had already put in the requests.

I was curious as to how far they'd gotten in my time away, and when I asked around, it seems we had three thousand ready.

"By the way, there's a weapon I'd like to entrust them a bit. I'd really like to start drilling for those three hundred fifty."

Baldoir gave a strong nod.

"The Randbergh House has never been negligent in basic training. Whether it be sword or spear or bow, they will handle them well."

Tough luck. What we assembled wasn't sword, spear or bow.

"It's a bit different. Truth be told, I'll be having them use this."

I handed a gun to Baldoir.

"Lyle-sama, this is, well... a gun, is it not?"

"Oh, you know of it? That makes matters fast. To be totally honest, outfitting them for your numbers was our limit. We didn't have the leisure for any more, so it was a huge help. Your men are off high quality, and I can entrust it to them with relief. Now then, shall we get to training at once?"

Baldoir held up the gun in both hands.

"I do know of them, or should I say the previous generation of the Walt House made use of them, so there are a number of guns kept at our house. However... saying there were too many problems to use them, Maizel-sama proceeded in a direction away from utilizing them..."

There were quite a few problems. It was possible to block them with a simple magic shield. And the biggest problem was money. The training of soldiers who used them required bullets, so money would go right down the drain.

"It's fine. They're also Magic Tools engraved with Skills. To add to that... the money is something I'vve borrowed from an acquaintance, so worry not."

Seeing me avert my eyes, Baldoir looked worried.

Hearing that Baldoir knew of guns, yet that my father had prohibited their use, the Seventh let out a conflicted voice.

[... no matter the time, the average man fails to understand the ones moving forward.]

To him, the Fifth gave a fed-up tone.

[We were able to carry it out because we have the craftsmen of Beim, and a Labyrinth under our wing. Realize we'd never be able to amass such a number originally. On top of how it couldn't help but cost money, the effect is too questionable. Maizel's decision was spot on.]

Money wasn't enough to maintain them. You needed to gather all the consumable rounds, the craftsmen to maintain them, and those with the necessary knowledge, or you'd never be able to apply them.

Baldoir carefully held the gun as he sought verification with me.

"By the way, Lyle-sama. How many troops are you assembling appart from us?"

I returned back to my paperwork.

"From the entirety of the alliance, thirty to forty thousand. I've already borrowed close to ten thousand from Cartaffs. Under my actual control, including your men, close to five hundred. With the entire force of South Beim, not even two thousand."

Hearing those words, Baldoir cried out.

"Hold it right there! You plan on fighting the armies of Bahnseim with those numbers!?"

It's true, they had forces exceeding three hundred thousand. If we fought that, victory would be a dream of a distant dream.

"Eh? No way. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to breach a massive foe with a small force."

Baldoir was flustered.

"In that case, you aim to break it piece by piece? But with such a difference in number..."

This time's war had a meaning of supplementing my insufficient military force. Of all else, there was meaning in using soldiers of Bahnseim.

If I were to borrow soldiers from other countries, it would create a large debt post-war. What I hated most was the fact that matter was directly related to the power balance of the harem. No, I guess that didn't matter for now.

"Piece by piece is standard fare. But right now, Bahnseim's true aim isn't me, but Beim. There are ways to go about it. Well, I won't do any reckless charges."

There, Baldoir laughed just a bit.


"No. I just thought Lyle-sama was a splendid man of the Walt House, is all."

For some reason, his words did not sound like a compliment to me.