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Chapter 5: Plunder

Sevens 265: Plunder

... A village in the territory of Beim.

There, the armies of Bahnseim had flooded in, and gathered the villagers in one spot. Before the anxious-looking villagers, the armed soldiers entered the buildings, grabbing various things, and heaping them up in one pile.

Starting with food, ornaments, and going on to weapons and the like. Around the villagers, the armed youngsters the soldiers had killed were placed in plain view. The notion that resistance was futile on their minds, they abided by fear.

The baron who assaulted the village spoke with his vassal knight.

"What is this lenience? In Bahnseim, they'd either put up a more intense resistance, or present the goods from the start."

The vassal knight looked at the fearful villagers.

"The clothes they wear and what they carry on them isn't something you'd think to find in Bahnseim. I heard the tax was low, but it's as if they aren't being managed at all. What's more, the youth lot that came at us were no good at all."

"Could it be they were grouping us with monsters? As expected of Beim: city of adventurers. They don't understand a god damn thing."

The soldiers looked satisfied at the abundance of goods to pilfer. At a glance, you could see the soldiers holding up the clothes and decorations they had found.

"Oy, trade that with me. My place's daughter is going to be married off soon. I want her clothes to be the best of the best."

"In that case, give me that pendent you've got there. I wanted to make this a present for my wife."

They were quickly treating what they took as their own, and exchanging them amongst themselves. Among them were some who even broke into fights, but the knights broke in between to mediate them.

The baron looked around, and scoffed.

"Load what we've gained on the wagons. And we've no further business... burn it."

Hearing those words, the villagers cried out.

"Wait! When you've taken all you could, what need is there to burn-! "

An arrow stuck into the villager who rose to his feet in protest. A soldier near the baron had fired it, and other soldiers were also ready with their bows.

"And what of it? You lot aren't my people. And I've no interest in any of you. With so much taken from you, how can you expect yourselves to live on? It's the least amount of mercy I can give. You'll be killed on the spot."

A number of knights cast magic, and set the surrounding buildings alight. With the buildings burning up, the villagers burst into tears. And the soldiers fired their arrows without question.

But a majority of them were aimed at the men, and a majority of them missed the women. Seeing that, the baron shook his head to the side, and laughed.

"When it comes to you lot; good grief... make sure we can depart on schedule. And don't fight amongst yourselves."

Saying that, he headed towards the mountain of piled pilfer. The soldiers raised cries as they held their fists in the air, pulling the women off by the arms...

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... Redant Fortress.

There, Blois saw off the feudal nobles who had departed one after the next since the early morning. He was filled with a complicated feeling. But he didn't have a good enough reason for them to stop.

And for more or less, it was nothing rare to find in war and Bahnseim was no exception. More than that, the land of Beim that had never let itself experience warfare was the greatest hunting ground any lord could ask for.

If he poorly tried to stop it, there were surely some who'd even go as far as assassinating him to get their way.

"Good grief, it's at times like these that one's powerlessness feels so painful."

There were times he had thought to get promoted and stop them. But it wasn't as if promotions were accomplished with pretty words alone, and he hesitated to dabble in the injustice and pillaging he so hated in order to rise in rank.

There, from atop the fortress, he noticed a soldier moving strangely. While remaining wary of their surroundings, they were headed his way. From build and movements, it was likely a woman.

"... An enemy?"

Blois immediately entered the fortress, and taking a few of his men along, he searched out the black-haired woman he had spotted before only to find her inside the fortress.

Leaving a certain room, and moving in the opposite direction from him.

"A moment of your time? What is your affiliation?"

Blois called out in a gentle voice, but his hand was gripping the hilt of his blade. The knight and soldiers around him were wary of the woman as well.

But there, a troublesome individual appeared on the scene.

"How noisy. What's going on here?"

A voice came from behind Blois' party, making him turn to find Breid. Blois kept it in his head that this was going to be a pain.

"I spotted a suspicious individual, so I was only calling out to her. And this is one of the rooms lent out to the feudal lords. There are quite a few things I'd like to ask her."

As Blois seemed cautious of a lord's betrayal, Breid showed a laugh. Unlike in the meeting the other day, his air was one of leisure.

"She's no one suspicious. I'll guarantee it. Now be on your way."

The black haired... red-eyed female soldier lowered her head without a change in expression, and left the spot with swift feet.

Blois spoke to Breid.

"... Then will you be the one talking?"

He had a bad premonition, and Breid's answer was just as he expected.

"It's all part of the plan. Well, my personal plan, I'll have to add. I'd much appreciate if you wouldn't barge into it."

Saying that, Breid entered the room the woman had come out of. Blois decided to faithfully report this matter to the other generals...

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... Confirming that Blois had left, Breid complained to the Baronet.

"I'd really like it if you made these letter exchanges less conspicuous."

"My apologies. And I had the one you just saw write a letter as you specified for delivery."

Breid belittled the Baronet internally as he nodded.

(It's troublesome that Blois was the one to spot it. But do these guys have no sense of crisis? Even if they're abiding my words, I can't have them dragging my feet. In that case, I should take charge of managing future exchanges. Good grief, incompetent subordinates sure are a pain.)

Breid made the proposal.

"Let me stand witness to the next letter exchange as well."

He didn't think he had been outwitted, but for the million-to-one chance, he said as such. There, the Baronet didn't look particularly troubled.

"Understood. That's how we'll arrange it henceforth. In that case, next will be..."

Seeing the Baronet move as he predicted, Breid was put into a delightfully good mood. And once the meeting had finished, the Baronet spoke to him.

"By the way, captain."

"What is it?"

"It's about General Blois, he may try to probe around our affairs. Based on how things go, he'll report it to the other generals, and he may take these merits away from you... it is a situation where we must doubt if the captain of the royal guard can guarantee our safety. Why not take some measures against it?"

Breid immediately replied.

"... Assassination, eh?"

The Baronet hurriedly denied that notion.

"Perish the thought! If an assassination scandal breaks out in a time like this, our plans will be brought to light. Sealing General Breid's movements, and explaining the situation once you've earned your achievements sounds best."

Breid thought it a pain, but he nodded at the Baronet's opinion.

(If it's after I've gotten my medals, no one will be able to ignore my opinion. We need only get rid of Blois after that, huh.)

"Understood. I'll make some moves of my own."

While he was at it, he planned to take care of... kill that hindrance Blois when all was said and done...

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We had helped out the Guild in the Labyrinth.

But the first thought that came to mind once we got out...

"Um, what's the meaning of nothing at all?"

I had braced myself for the Fifth's parting, but he hadn't said a single word the whole time. Milleia-san was also troubled, and May who felt it would be the end was sending me a chastising glare as if she'd been betrayed.

Within the Jewel.

Surrounding the Fifth, I asked about the situation in the Jewel.

Milleia-san spoke.

[... He locked himself in his room, and wouldn't come out! After I'd prepared for it so much!]

The Fifth glared at Milleia-san as he spoke.

[Don't use May as an excuse! Listen here, saying goodbye in that sort of atmosphere contrarily raises all the hurdles, dammit! If that's how it was going to be, a normal goodbye would've been several times better!]

When I wondered what it was, it seems the Fifth didn't want to go out into the 'Goodbye Party' Milleia-san had devised. It's true the ancestors up to now had never parted with such an atmosphere. To this point, they had left when it was necessary... no, because of me, the Second alone wasn't able to give a proper farewell.

Milleia-san hadn't permitted the succession of the Fifth's Skill. But because I had learned his past, she had lifted the restriction. Failing to inform the Fifth of that fact, he had slipped up the timing to pass the Skill to me.

The Seventh spoke.

[Hey, why not just give it to him here and be over with it? Don't want to make too much a ruckus out of it, and you've already imparted everything you wanted to, right?]

The Fifth was sullen.

[I was forced to impart everything I didn't want to as well. Alright, let's go Lyle.]

While the Fifth tried to lead me into his room of memories, Milleia-san stood in the way.

[That's no good at all! If it's my responsibility, then I have to do something about it!]

The Fifth looked at her.

[And! I'm! Saying! You're being a bother! Listen well, I don't really care about the timing and so forth. My role of passing on my Skill to Lyle is an important one. It's true I can't look cool anymore, but what's more important is giving this Skill to Lyle. So Milleia, just drop it already.]

Within that dubious air, such a conversation came to pass but... I felt there was something I had to tell the ancestors as well.

"I'm sorry, it seems Bahnseim's made its move, so I'm going to have to hurry on my side. It seems I'll be busy, and I don't think I'll be coming back here for a while. Work's just been so hectic lately... I-I really am sorry!"

As I ran to leave, the Fifth extended his hand towards me with an indescribable expression on his face.

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... A village in Beim's north.

There, the adventurers hired as guards, and the adventurers that hailed from the village were collapsed on the ground, having been defeated by soldiers. The red blood seeping into the earth gave proof of all the place the fighting had taken place.

A young soldier lifted up one of the adventurers.

"This one's wearing really nice armor. Since I beat him, it's alright if I'm the one who takes it, right?"

Perhaps the soldiers alongside him were from the same town as him, as they laughed.

"I don't mind, but I don't recommend trying to stand out more than our general. Stand out to much, and you'll be the first one aimed at on the battlefield. In that case, you'd better sell it, and build up some funding for yourself."

Listening to such voices from the surroundings, a young Baronet looked around.

"Good grief, they needlessly wasted our time. Did they really think such crude attacks would work on fully-armored soldiers?"

The young Baronet kicked an adventurer who still drew breath. Likely in resentment for a soldier that had died, that single adventurer was being harassed by a number.

The adventurer didn't seem to grasp what was going on.

"W-why... we... the Labyrinth's thirtieth floor..."

Adventurers who had breached the thirtieth floor. They were truly proficient. Adding on the premise of, 'as adventurers'.

The Baronet laughed.

"Having your magicians put on a show like that is just asking for them to be aimed at. For a lot at your level, there are any number of ways to deal with you once surrounded. With your numbers that don't even reach ten, adding deaths and injuries I'll admit you took out more than twenty of our men. But that's all. Even so, the sword in your hands is truly a splendid one. A magic tool... I'll be the one using it from here on."

There were more than a hundred armed soldiers, and adventurers whose magicians were walking targets for arrows. After that, they need only have those capable of ranged attacks surround and take down any adventurers that jumped out.

The young Baronet used the sword he took from the adventurer to impale its former wielder.

"You seem delighted at your abilities of monster slaying, but... you were too oblivious of the battlefield. This is why those misunderstanding adventurers are so troublesome."

Testing the sharpness of his new blade. At that moment, some mercenaries drew close.

"Boss, please don't forget our services."

To the grinning mercenaries, the Baronet directed a smile.

"Of course I won't. I give my thanks for guiding us all the way to the village. You can dispute how to distribute the promised loot amongst yourselves. Now then, once we're done here, where shall we head next?"

Around, the soldiers pillaged and assaulted women. When the village men who couldn't stand to watch took their weapons in hand and came at them, the soldiers impaled them on their spears, and shot them through with their bows.

The mercenaries looked at that Baronet's men.

"Even so, you've even less mercy than us mercs."

The Baronet spoke with a smile.

"I've experienced even crueler battlefields in Bahnseim. But when their resistance was so weak, even my heart starts to hurt. Of course, even if that's the case, I've no intent to go light on them. Now let us make haste. If we linger, the other lords will snatch our prize away."

There were problems in Beim. Using the power of money, they had experienced too long a period of peace. Exchanging the blood of surrounding lands for money, and sucking it up for its own prosperity.

The thought process that they themselves were safe was always prevalent somewhere in them, and when it came to a situation like this, it made an environment where they couldn't put up a decent resistance.

To Bahnseim, it was an environment where they could take what they wanted. The colors of the lords' eyes had changed, as their horizons expanded before them...