Having met up with the emergency dispatchment of soldiers, Yuusuke’s group was now riding towards the attacked artless village.
As current soldiers under Yuusuke’s command were dispatched here on an extremely short notice, their overall skill level was not high. They were a ragtag bunch of fellows that barely passed the minimum qualifications required to serve the kingdom. Few of them understood the important tactics, Yuusuke relied on, or danger that came along with the mission.
Therefore they have not been assigned to Deernook fortress, neither have they participated in the battle of Paula fortress nor did they knew anything about Shinha. Because of that, they were assigned to an artless village that was seemingly devoid of any problems.
“So Fonclanc is also severely shorthanded?” (Shinha)
“Don’t you think that their timing was too good?” (Yuusuke)
Presently all of the Fonclanc’s forces were sent out towards various artless villages, dotting the vast territory.
On top of not knowing the actual strength of the enemy, the enemy seemed to be a very well organized group of artless soldiers. At the battle of Paula, it became apparent that an army of artless solders was a tough opponent even for experienced divine art knights.
Although Sanc Adiet was a huge city requiring a huge force to defend it, king Esvobus decided against restricting the defended outer areas (read as “areas outside of the city”) only to those that involved the territories of the important people of the capital (palace officials, rich elite). No matter how one looked at it, Fonclanc was severely shorthanded.
“The king seems to be gentle to the people” (Shinha)
“That is probably better than a despot.” (Yuusuke)
Yuusuke inadvertently replied with a very harsh remark.
“We can see the village” (Yuusuke)
When Yuusuke’s party arrived at the village, most of the buildings had already burned down and only the scalding black ruins greeted them, but they could still see some burning buildings further inside.
“Aaagh! The mansion!” (Servant)
According to the rescued maid of house Volace, the building that was burning deeper in the village was a resort, belonging to Volace family. Hearing that the villagers were taking refuge there, Yuusuke’s group rushed towards the mansion. Once they reached the building, Vermeer was frantically trying to put out the fires with a group of around ten soldiers.
The guards of the mansion seemed to have successfully made their escape from the burning house.
“Vermeer, are there any villagers inside?” (Yuusuke)
“It seems there are some in the back, but I can’t confirm whether they are alive or dead.” (Vermeer)
“The flames are too strong, if this continues on the building will completely burn down along with everyone inside.” (Yuusuke)
Looking for the endowment or offensive type water arts user, Yuusuke turned towards the soldiers, who were sent as his support. At first he intended to ask them to locate Shaheed, but he saw only stern, strained faces in front of him, so he ordered them to try to fight the fire by pouring buckets of water onto it instead. (T.N. no idea what this was supposed to tell us)
“Hivodir, are there any information about refugees?” (Yuusuke)
“Uhhhm, I think that they might be in the hall on the first floor. That should be the place to run, right? Rifuose” (Hivodir)
“Yes, there’s a basement that spans under half of the house. The entrance is in the hall.” (Rifuose)
Previously saved servant girl supported Hivodir’s reasoning.
“Mhm, understood. Therefore I will break down the house a little bit.” (Yuusuke)
“No problems, you will be able to rebuild it afterwards, right?” (Hivodir)
Hivodir agreed, as he understood the situation. Yuusuke smiled at Hivodir and started running towards the burning house.
Hivodir’s knights and supporting soldiers were all looking at the captain of the darkness god corps who had dived straight into the sea of fire.
Hot wind was blowing into his face and was making his hair sway. With the mantle protecting him from the cinders dancing in the air, he managed to approach the outer wall of the building and, after hitting the wall, opened the customization menu. One weak point of Yuusuke’s customization power was that he needed to be close to the object he wanted to customize, in order to use his powers.
To customize something at a long distance, like the stone pillar, which he used during the battle of Paula, he needed to do precise tactical preparations in advance and execute them perfectly. It was not something he could do on the fly.
“Achacha! It’s hot! … good, execute!” (Yuusuke)
Yelling out from the heat Yuusuke manipulated the customization menu, destroying the entire mansion save for the place that the refugees were expected to be. The entire burning building was enveloped in the light effect and, after they receded, the mansion and the flames were gone and only the light particles were dancing in their stead. With that shouts arose from the knights and the soldiers, sent as support.
“Amazing job, captain” (Vermeer)
“I managed that somehow… There’s still smoke rising from the ruins, so extinguish them properly.” (Yuusuke)
The pillar of smoke that was steadily rising up until now was starting to get scattered away by the wind. In a small recess, in the middle of where the mansion was supposed to be, several villagers were looking around themselves with stupefied expressions on their faces.
“Whaa, no matter how many times I look at your power, it always surpasses any common sense.” (Hivodir)
“Buzz off.” (Yuusuke)
In any case, the safety of the villagers had been confirmed. The rebuilding would have to wait until the morning, so Yuusuke had gathered what materials have remained unburnt and built temporary shelters for the villagers to rest.
Soldiers were ordered to carry out a search party for the missing people and account for those that were currently present. Yuusuke ordered Hivodir, who wanted to pursue the party that attacked the village, to stay in the village and gather the dead and the injured.
Hivodir was told that the fire arts users that were reported to have fallen prey to the group that Shinha was pursuing were undoubtedly with the attackers during the latest attack.
The remaining two soldiers were wearing Gazzetta army uniforms, but the attack strategy was centered on a fire arts user. At that time, the soldiers reported that they found bodies, likely to belong to the attackers, near the village.
Yuusuke, accompanied by the members of the darkness god corps, as well as Shinha, went down to the corpses and confirmed them to be artless who had traces of severe burn marks on their bodies.
“…there is no mistake, these soldiers belong to the reconnaissance unit of the silver sword.” (Shinha)
Yuusuke was surprised by Shinha’s conclusions. Fonke and Vermeer looked at each other, then Fonke said,
“Then, Gazzetta was definitely behind this attack?” (Fonke)
“No, you can’t say that. Hmm… can’t you read the situation?” (Shinha)
Instead of an explanation, Shinha told Yuusuke something similar to what he had said at Isotta’s house. He talked about an investigatory group that was attacked five days ago as it was traveling through Blue Garden’s territory to investigate the attacks on the artless villages in Fonclanc. Survivors testified that attackers were wearing Fonclanc corps military uniforms.
“What the hell is that? It’s the first time I have heard of this.” (Fonke)
“Of course, because the attackers definitely did not belong to Fonclanc’s army.” (Shinha)
Shinha answered Fonke. Somehow, Yuusuke was able to understand the hidden meaning by combining this with what Shinha had said earlier during the day. Hivodir also seemed to understand the situation as he silently nodded, putting his hand to his chin.
“And they were not the Blue Garden’s army?” (Yuusuke)
“That’s right, by the way, only one person returned alive to Gazzetta.” (Shinha)
“Aaaah… now I see.” (Hivodir)
“Eh, what’s that? I don’t understand a thing here.” (Fonke)
Fonke looked at his fellows in the darkness god corps with a perplexed face. Yuusuke explained to them the conclusions that Shinha had arrived at. Shinha thought it was very likely that the group that attacked this village today was the same one that destroyed the investigation group in the Blue Garden’s territory.
Thus it was very likely that the attackers have brought the corpses of the dead members of the investigation squad and had dropped them off near this village.
Shinha came to a conclusion that it had to be a conspiracy of some third party, who tried to set up a conflict between Fonclanc and Gazzetta. This third party was then trying to create a situation where Fonclanc, in order to stop the diminishment of artless people and to stop the flow of refugees, turning over to Gazzetta, organized a purge of the artless people, attempting to frame Gazzetta army using the corpses of their troops.
“Someone is trying to persuade Gazzetta that this is a conspiracy by Fonclanc, convincing Fonclanc of the opposite at the same time.” (Yuusuke)
Shinha has revealed that the officers were undecided whether this was Fonclanc’s doing. Looking back at Fonke, he was frowning as if he had gotten a headache from all this information.
“Uhm, that is… how to say it… it has not been done by us or by Gazzetta, or by Fonclanc, but by some unrelated party, right?” (Fonke)
“That’s right. As far as I know, such a radical group does not exist within Fonclanc, and I hope you are keeping Gazzetta in check.” (Yuusuke)
“Judging from their actions, a reconciliation faction might have a hand in this, however there are fools that would join those guys everywhere.” (Shinha)
Even if they pretended to be from Gazzetta, the country has been surrounded in mysteries for so long, that there was no reliable information on them. However there was no way those guys could imitate the color of the hair. However, it was nearly impossible to eliminate the Gazzetta investigation squad without the intel from within Gazzetta’s chain of command.
“But, in order to do that… these attackers would need to have an extremely detailed information about Fonclanc. Certainly, they would need to have strong connection with these guys.” (Shinha)
“In case of a Fonclanc/Gazzetta conflict, they would gain a lot of influence, right?” (Hivodir)
“However, why did they only deal so little damage if they have such a strong military force?” (Yuusuke)
The group tried relentlessly to grasp the identity of their invisible enemy. Glancing at the bodies of the victims being gathered in one place (except for the bodies of the investigation squad) everyone was brainstorming about their enemy.
“There is no reason to relate this with the remnants of the Izapnar faction, right…?” (Shinha)
“No, they could be able to do this. Izapnar’s faction is comprised of elite troops, right? They would have extensive knowledge about Fonclanc.” (Yuusuke)
“Izapnar’s faction, eh? Who is the one, pulling the strings from behind, in that case…? Anyone has any ideas?” (Hivodir)
“Maybe… Nossentes?” (Shinha)
Nossentes was the second biggest country in Kaltcio, with its capital situated in an ancient city widely regarded as the most ancient city in the world. The country had a long running history and was said to be the origin of the religion of the four great gods. Its political system was also based on the caste system. Gazzetta, which now announced the resurrection of the white tribe empire, held Nossentes as their foremost target.
“Hey, hey, isn’t that because you set your sights on it that they would try to push Gazzetta like that?” (Hivodir)
“If you want to say so…” (Shinha)
For a major power like Nossentes, whose leaders saw the rise of Gazzetta as a nationwide problem, creating a conflict between Gazzetta and Fonclanc and forcing them to fight it out and weaken each other would indeed be a lucrative opportunity.
Although Nossentes seemed to take the role of a spectator during the Blue Garden/Fonclanc war, due to their rapid advance towards Gazzetta it was apparent that they were steadily making preparations for the mobilization of their military. (T.N. probably related to the unrest in Gazzetta which was hinted in chapter 31)
“Ahhh, divine arts users sure are an aggressive bunch. Hey Yuusuke, how about moving to Gazzetta and we both start to working together?” (Shinha)
“So you say, don’t take advantage of the situation to try and use one of your persuasions.” (Yuusuke)
Yuusuke shrugged his shoulders and refused Shinha, who tried to persuade him in a jokingly tone.