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Chapter 12: Address

Address

... At the Walt House camp, Maizel was giving an address.

"We number fifty thousand. On the other hand, our enemy has seventy thousand. Thinking of pure war-potential, I'm sure our enemy has twice our troops. But... what of it!?"

Raising up his right hand, Maizel wrung out his a voice atop the temporary stage.

"A mere rebel army. What's more, they were only able to amass twice our numbers. The training we've built up, and our experience is the greatest in the continent! We need only kick down that gathering of weaklings, and raise a bloodbath of the fools who dared challenge us on the open plains!"

The knights and soldiers raised cheers at his address. Maizel did have enough charisma for that, but the greatest reason was his achievements.

Just as the other Walt Heads of history, Maizel had raised up numerous victories. From his first campaign to now, he had never lost once. When it came to losing on the battlefield, experiencing it once was enough to cause a great loss.

It was difficult to rise from there, and if you don't keep winning, all will crumble. Within that environment, for Maizel who kept winning on, the Walt House's name... and the morale of the Walt House army he'd trained up were high.

"We shall win this battle, and return triumphantly to Centralle! Earn your merits! Grasp fame in those hands! Money! And make a name for yourselves! The Walt House that's fought through all manners of battlefields shall give you victory!"

While their enemy was Lyle, who hailed from the same Walt House, and was raised by its ancestors, such a thing was irrelevant to Maizel and his company.

What was important was to raise morale. An army of low spirit was frail.

And Maizel understood the enemy held the advantage in numbers and terrain. That's precisely why he had to raise morale in his address.

"Now, brave heroes... enjoy your battlefield!"

Spreading out his arms, wringing out his voice, Maizel was answered by the cheers of several tens of thousands...

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The Walt House army was close.

While we were lying in wait for them, I stood atop the provisional stage. It was early morning, the sun yet to rise, making for a radiant scene.

Within all that, I looked behind to see Eva lightly raising her hand and waving. I'm sure she was signaling that the preparations were ready. Or perhaps she was cheering me on.

When I gripped the Jewel, the Third let his voice out.

[... Now then, we can't give any advice beyond this point. It wouldn't be any fun if Maizel-kun threw us into a disarray, so Skill use ends here. Lyle... I pray you'll be able to hear our voice a next time. Well, there are no absolutes on the battlefield, but the same goes for both sides. Normally, you'd be doing this after some more preparations... no, any more is just complaints. Now raise some morale. Addresses are important.]

I let go of the Jewel, and spread out my arms. I spread them as if holding a giant plate, and behind me, Eva supported with her Skill [Allmind Language].

A Skill to deliver your voice across. It was a Skill fitting of a singer like Eva, but the girl in question didn't want to rely on Skills, so she rarely ever used it. It was really helping out my cause, though.

Even with a shoddy address, my voice would get across to my allies.

"... The strongest army of Bahnseim is upon is. The enemy numbers fifty thousand. Fifty thousand elites who've crossed countless battlefields."

Entering in with a talk to stir up their unease, I clenched my right hand to form a fist. And I swung my left hand from the inside outwards.

"But we are the same. We've continued our victories as well. There are many who've joined our cause. I'm sure you the ladies and gentlemen of Beim may feel insecure. But worry not. You need only ask your comrades from the alliance. Just how much victory I've brought! At times, I've overturned war potential ten times our own!"

It wasn't a lie. In the battle in Zayin, I rose to action with a hundred. After that, we were running from place to place, but in the end, we won and took back the country.

"I have never seen loss! I've continued to win! There are plenty here who stand as a testament to that fact. And the gentlemen of Bahnseim shall understand as they fight. I am strong. We are strong! We've fought enemies several times our size and continued to win!"

I's been avoiding battle on disadvantageous circumstance, but in the end I still won, so it wasn't a problem. I'm sure you could say we breached an enemy with a small force. Though never once had I actually fought a foe with more soldiers than us.

"This time our numbers are greater than our foe. To add to that, we have the locational advantage. Truly our enemies are powerful... however! Whether our enemy is the strongest Walt House of Bahnseim or not, we are the ones who shall win! As long as everyone does what they should, we can achieve victory! This battle isn't anything so difficult!"

Anyways... we can win, but don't let your guard down. That was the level of address I gave. You can't be too negligent. But you can't let them think they'll lose. So I made them think that victory was possible, but made them feel a sense of crisis that the difference was only a slight one.

It was something the Seventh taught me.

"By your work, I shall make the goddess of victory turn to you! If we can accomplish that, the title of the continent's strongest is ours for the taking! Win and get everything in your hands!"

I heard the cheers. And I recalled the Seventh's words.

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... Within the Jewel.

The Seventh was taking a journey through his memories.

A journey through Brod's life, and a journey for Lyle to know his own father Maizel.

Young and overflowing with Talent, Maizel was surely a radiant existence, even from Brod's eyes. There was no saying Brod had no talent himself. But when compared to Maizel, it couldn't help but fall short.

Brod... perhaps it was precisely because he was the Seventh that it troubled him.

The First wouldn't think anything of it.

The Second would frankly accept it.

The Third would rejoice.

The Fourth would've accepted it as well.

The Fifth may have handed down his title earlier.

The Sixth... would surely have bragged about it.

But Maizel's father was Brod. There was a small crevice between the two. With talent that he never thought to deeply about, Maizel couldn't understand that trench.

In the mansion courtyard, Brod spoke with Maizel.

[Maizel, I've gotten the guns together, but this is quite difficult. Even if I'm to use them in a unit, I would have to leave it to someone I can trust. While they have a high output, to make use of them, we'll need knowledge we've never taught before, and...]

The experience Brod build up. It was around the time he was to pass it to Maizel. Looking closely, the still-young form of Zell was there as well.

Lyle looked at Zell.

"... Old Zell."

He muttered. The Seventh looked at Lyle.

[I left one of our gun-equipped forces to Zell. He could a handle a gun as well as me. Whenever I went hunting, I'd often take him along.]

At the end of the Seventh's nostalgic eyes was the sabre hung at Maizel's hip. But Maizel looked truly perplexed.

He tilted his head.

[Father, why are you so particular about the gun? Even with this house's scale, we cannot assemble very many gunner units. On top of costing money, you'll have to station proficient personnel to them. In that case, it would be more efficient to assemble a well-equipped cavalry.]

He seemed genuinely curious. Brod looked at him and cleared his throat.

[It's true it'll be a unit with some problems. But there's no doubt when we properly implement it, the power it exhibits will be great. I was thinking of focusing on these sorts of units in the future. Especially when we have a line of elevation... wait, Maizel!]

As Brod hurriedly reached out his hand, Maizel had turned his back and began his way off.

[It's unneccessarry for me. And how many years do you think it will take to make practical use of the gun?]

Brod became frantic.

[N-no... it'll take some time, but making Magic Tools of them, we're slowly getting the numbers together.]

[If you make them Magic Tools, it will cost even more money. The maintenance will be an extraordinary amount as well. Even if they carry on to my generation, I'm sure it will be a small scale. While there's definitely some light to be found, its influence on the funding of other fields is simply too great.]

The Seventh sighed. And he explained to Lyle.

[... As I compensated for my own strength with the gun, that had become my weakness. Sure enough, for a knight with a bit of a name to him, hammering in a few rounds wouldn't have any effect. My Skills Box and Warp were necessary to make up for that flaw. I was delighted when the Skills manifested.]

Lyle looked at his father Maizel.

"... If I didn't notice, I wonder if that's how I would be. When I first fought Aria, I was making everyone angry."

[Hahaha, that's right. Yep, you're easier to get along with compared to back then. Well, it's not like Maizel was wrong. Even in your generation following my death, it would be hard to say they've been put to practical application. And...]

Lyle and the Seventh's eyes turned to Maizel. Maizel gave a tired reply.

[Father, my Skill is Anti-Skill. Meaning Magic Tools hold no meaning. There's no reason for me to fuss over the gun.]

Watching Maizel walk off, Brod made a conflicted expression...

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The main camp.

I climbed the watch tower and looked afar. To where we waited, I could see Bahnseim's army... with the Walt House's flag at the center approaching.

By the time they came into sight, they were already in formation as they leisurely grew closer.

To my side, Monica looked at our foe.

"Looks like a formation that focusses on offense. They plan to break through before we can surround them. No, perhaps they're to make a straight line for our main camp?"

In numbers, we were winning. In theory, we only had to surround and strike them down. But before the force driving the Walt House, that was a fool's errand.

The movable watch tower was carefully made sturdy. I spoke to Monica.

"Looks like our line was cut."

Around the stage the army came into sight, a light haze started to come down... was how it felt. I felt a slight irregularity in the flow of Mana, causing my line with Monica to sever itself. It was similar to the sensation when I forcibly used a Magic Tool.

Monica purposefully made a show of wiping a tear with her finger.

"For the line connecting me with the Chicken Dickwad to be severed... but our hearts are always connected, so it'll be just fine, right!?"

She sent some fleeting glance as if requesting something for me, and as I remained silent, she repeated the line, "Our hearts are always connected, so it'll be just fine, right!? Right!?" Her tears were gradually becoming real.

"That's right. We're connected. So you've got to properly keep watch. You won't be able to move around too much this time around."

Delighted as she was, Monica's twin tails began bouncing up and down.

"Good grief! There's no salvation for worthless chickens! Very well. I, Monica, shall show how useful I can be on watch. I shall prove that the one who serves you more than any is none other than I!"

She sounded gung ho about it, so I have an unmotivated reply of, "good luck with that," as I leapt down from the tower. Issuing orders around, I headed for my tent.

"Baldoir's on standby, right? Don't let him come out until all the preparations are in order. We're starting off with a flashy exchange of magics. We'll show them how firm we stand to put them on guard. Tell the magicians to hurry and get ready."

As I said that, the messengers ran off.

Novem walked over to me, leading a platoon of Valkyries. Clara was standing on Porter's roof, looking into the distance. The other members weren't here.

"Lyle-sama, I think I should go out onto the front lines. My father and brother should be there. In that case, the one who can properly take them on is..."

I looked at Novem as I waved my hand to the side.

"I know. But you see... when you say you'll fight your family so disinterestedly; I hate that attitude of yours."

There, Novem opened her eyes a little wider, bursting into laughter before long. It was a chuckle, a cute sort of laughter.

"Those words fit you nicely as well, Lyle-sama. But if you find it unpleasant, shall I make myself a little more sorrowful?"

"If it'll be a lie, the to hell with it. In my case, I don't think I can help it though. But for you, didn't it come to this because you tagged along with me? You can't persuade them?"

I asked if she could bring the Forxuz House over to our side, but Novem would only shake her head.

"My father will never betray Maizel-sama. It is just as low a probability of me betraying you. So the outcome will have to be settled on the battlefield. Even so, are you sure it's fine to station so many Valkyries with me?"

Turning around, Novem spoke as she looked at the Valkyrie platoon. I spoke as I stroked my hair.

"Because I can't move. Well, I treasure you, and... oh, looks like it's starting."

As I said that and looking in the direction of the enemy camp, lights were coming our way.

Our side deployed a magic shield, and as the sky was enveloped in a faint shade of yellow, the magic collided with it. It exploded, as smoke rose from a destroyed portion of the shield. Luckily our side didn't suffer any casualty.

The important points were heavily protected. In order to efficiently use our valuable knights and magicians, I had put some mind towards their placement.

"Then I shall be off."

"... Be careful."

"I'm sure you'll have it harder than me, Lyle-sama."

Saying that, Novem got on the move.

Looking at the sky, I say magic fired from our side towards the enemy camp. They deployed the same shield as us, blocking all of the magic. It looked like a pointless exchange, but the enemy was using such an action to search out any unrest or weak points in our side.

My father Maizel could get in the way of Skill use. More or less, when it came to the scele of an army, there would be people possessing special Skills. If you relied on suck people, it felt possible for things to erupt into chaos all at once.

"It's because of the Seventh. We can deal with them without crumbling. Now father... the fun is yet to come."

Saying that, I glared at the enemy camp as they launched their second volley of magic.

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... At Maizel's camp, those who gathered to see the enemy hadn't collapsed were looking surprised.

Beil looked at the enemy movements.

"They seem quite calm. Based on our information, they gave the impression of an army specialized around Skills, but it doesn't seem they've suffered from it."

Seeing his allies block the magic fired by Lyle's camp, Maizel laughed.

"If they crumbled from something like that, it would lose all the fun."

There were many armies that relied on some sort of Skill. There were many using them as means of communication, or making use of people with Skills to conduct recon from afar. When moving an army of ten thousands, there would be a considerable number of people with Skills.

For that sake, when Maizel activated the initial stage of his Anti-Skill, there was a relatively large number of armies that would crumble. Armies that did not were those with a firm foundation.

"I don't plan to waste any time. Continue closing the distance. March forward."

The army began moving to cover the distance.

Lyle's campe was the one in position, with stockades and such of trees in place. For that sake, they remained immobile, slowly waiting for their foe to arrive.

While there were flashy exchanges of magic, in truth, quite a plain battle was about to unfold...