T.N. Sorry for the slow updates everyone. I have been drowned in work these weeks, so my updates will be slower (ideally I will still try to get next chapter out early next week)
The mountain road, connecting Rinwaal and Trent Rietta, branched into two roads – one was a mountain trail, winding between the mountain crevices, the other was cut into the face of a steep cliff. Both of these roads connected to the road to the Rudea mines.
Presently, the Wind Edge army had set up a rock blockade on the mountain road, and a large portion of the road though the cliff face was damaged, making it completely impassable. Trent Rietta’s army, dispatched to restore access to the mines, had abandoned the cliff road and were working on clearing the boulders that were blocking the mountain road.
“Still, for those guys to go this far…”
“Right, eh? I don’t even want to think of how long it would take to restore this road.”
“Nothing, I just thought that I saw something move…”
A pair of road workers had skipped on the road restoration that continued throughout the night, and had come to look at the state of the cliff side road. They suddenly saw something moving in the darkness, where the destroyed road suddenly ended in an abyss. Suddenly, a long thing with a sharp tip flew towards them with a whistling sound.
“What the heck?!”
A rope was tied to the other end of the thing that was actually an iron pick. With a gust of wind, the pick had flew besides them, and had embedded itself into the cliff. It was soon followed by a strong divine arts aura that was caused by another gust of wind which had hammered into the blunt end of the pick.
To ensure that the rope was properly fixed in its place, two, no, three more picks flew their way, and with a metallic sound had hit the cliff, binding the rope to the wall.
“H-hey! Can this…”
“It can’t be. It’s impossible for someone build a suspension bridge in this place.”
As the workers had feared, once the stakes had been set in place, small metallic fixtures attached to them had unfolded, making a small suspension bridge suitable for a single person to cross over the crevasse.
Immediately, the small suspension bridge started swaying, indicating that someone was crossing it from the other side. The two road workers tried their best to destroy the bridge, but for some reason they could not activate their earth arts.
“We can’t do anything here! We must warn the main army about this!”
“Someone is controlling the wind — No, this is!”
The two workers, trying their best to cut the rope that was holding the bridge, looked towards the darkness and saw the glimmering fangs of the evil beasts that were coming over from the other side of the crevasse.
Late at night Rinwaal’s palace was busy as if someone had disturbed a giant bee hive.
A small scale invasion from the thought-to-be severed road to the mines, centered around a pack of modified evil beasts, was launched on the worker team that was repairing the mountain road. All contact was lost with the workers team and the military force that was sent to aid them had to retreat back to the city gates when they were met with the divine arts obstructing aura.
Moreover, the troops at the country’s border had reported that a large army, thought to be the main body of the invading troops, was approaching them. Afterwards, all contact with the border was lost.
There was no definite intel on the composition of the Wind Edge army, but since part of it was comprised of the evil beasts that emitted a divine arts obstruction aura, it was likely that the majority of the army should be comprised of mercenaries that favored close quarters combat.
Trent Rietta’s army had no means to deal with this aura, and their position was grim.
“We have sent a support request to them, but it is impossible for help to arrive in just two days.”
King Grifzah was watching the area, surrounding the city, for the signs of their enemies that he could inform Fonclanc of. That country had the Darkness God Corps that had managed to seal the institute. He had hoped that they would have some sort of countermeasures against the modified evil beasts.
“My King, if we give too much information to Fonclanc they will take advantage of that to gain leverage over us.”
“I am fully aware of that, however right now we are in no place to haggle or negotiate with them.”
Although they had only suffered a small surprise attack, the capital was already in danger. There was no time to be concerned with one’s position.
Trent Rietta’s military positions along the highway had been lost and the Wind Edge army was approaching the capital. The forces sent on the upper Driadria highway had taken the city and returned to rejoin with Benefost’s main force.
“Oh my, to use such bold tactics. As expected from the head of the army.”
“That’s my job. More importantly, have your men found lady Valerie yet?”
“Ehm, we are still careful with our wind communications. However we have noticed Gazzetta’s military movements so I believe that she had been found.”
“… is that so. That’s good.”
For now adjutant general’s Fyotress’s explanation was sufficient to Benefost. Not heeding his advice, Valerie disagreed against mobilizing the army so quickly, but that was just another trait that ran strong in her bloodline.
Under the cover of darkness, the Wind Edge army marched on. Benefost narrowed his eyes, looking at the city of Rinwaal shining far ahead of him. Airzah grinned in his mind, watching the commander concentrate before the approaching battle.
~Seventeenth day of the Water month of Fyolnar~
The investigation group led by the Darkness God Corps had been camping out just past the crossroad with the Blue Garden highway. They were in contact with Hivodir’s support group that was marching towards the coastal road through Rufk village, and were also waiting for any kind of contact from Trent Rietta.
“Support group will soon reach the coastal road. Zeshald-san seemed to be in good health when they passed by the village.”
“Good to know. That guy sure is something, to check on sensei under the current circumstances.”
Yuusuke was tampering with a combat type map item while listening to Hivodir’s periodic report from Isotta. Yuusuke desired more variety in his arsenal than the defensive walls and pitfalls that he currently had, so he was reworking his system from the ground up.
Yuusuke’s investigation group consisted of five squads of eight people, each of the squads led by a Darkness God Corps member. Similarly to the Deernook fortress mission, Yuusuke himself had directly commanded a twenty troop squad. Thus the total size of the commanded soldiers group was sixty people.
Including the members of the corps and Sun, the entire force was sixty seven people, and as expected, Yuusuke was unable to create a lodging house that was large enough to accommodate everyone.
“Yuusuke-san, Fonke-san’s group has returned.”
“Mhm, I’m coming right away.”
Fonke was using a bike to scout the road ahead. There was no real danger to be wary about, but considering the threat of the Wind Edge and Gazzetta army’s movements on the opposite shore of the lake, it was not excessive to scout the road ahead for any traps or ambush so that the main force could move without danger.
While he had voiced such an argument, in truth Fonke enjoyed riding a high speed vehicle and had resorted to all sorts of excuses to use it. However he still properly performed the tasks that he had set out to do.
“I have driven until the end of the forest. I had passed a group of travelling merchants, but there seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary.”
“Thank you for the report.”
After giving the report, they had separated the power unit from the two wheeler and had put it away. Fonke seemed to be tired, yet satisfied. After the bike was put away, he motioned the person that was riding along with him to follow and walked off towards the resting carriage.
As a side note, all the knights under Fonke’s command were females.
“Captain, aside from eight knights, everyone is rested.”
“Good job. These eight people have just returned a little while ago, so please tend to them. We’re leaving soon.”
Smiling wryly, Aisha turned towards the indicated wagon along with her squad of healing and recovery type water arts users. The Darkness God Corps uniforms were customized, so their wearers did not get fatigued.
Controlling such a large group, Yuusuke had to care for the health of his subordinates. That had also increased their loyalty towards him, but that was not his main objective.
“Then, lets mov—“
Isotta frantically interrupted her captain, who was giving the usual call to resume the march.
“A-an emergency transmission… It seems that Trent Rietta’s Rinwaal… has fallen!”
Tension had instantly rose within the group. Vermeer was the first one to react and did the most appropriate thing – inquired for the details.
“Was that a Wind Edge’s proclamation? Is King Grifzah dead?”
“There is no more information. The corps and the investigation group should continue their march towards the harbor town. Give the order, Captain.”
“Don’t be too hasty.”
In the end, the group was to continue moving until the harbor town. The nine carriages moved in a row, heavy mood surrounding the knights riding inside. An active discussion regarding the latest development was being held in the carriage that the Darkness God Corps rode in.
“Were those guys really that strong or was Trent Rietta that weak?”
“What will become of General Hivodir?”
“If their capital has actually fallen, we shouldn’t approach Trent Rietta too carelessly.”
“It would be difficult to attack Rinwaal from our position.”
Although the circumstances were unclear, Vermeer was worried by the very fact that the city had fallen. He was considering a possibility that Gazzetta had made a treaty with Wind Edge and had been gathering the army of the other side of the lake in preparation of a war with Fonclanc.
It was possible that King Esvobus had sent Yuusuke towards the harbor town foreseeing this, and knowing that Shinha tended to avoid fighting against the Evil God.
“In case our worst fears come to pass, the Captain will solve everything with his powers, right?”
“Don’t put even more pressure on him…”
Yuusuke was too immersed in modifying his offensive map item data, and mumbled that it was alright as long as his opponent was Shinha. Soon after that, a message from Hivodir reached them, informing that his support group had stopped at the coastal road, prepared a camp, and were dispatching spies into the neighboring country’s territory to gather more consistent information about the recent news.
~Eighteenth day of the Water month of Fyolnar~
Welsh had received the news of the rash actions of the radical cliques of his organization. Although the attack had been sudden, and that they had powerful modified evil beast handlers amongst them, they had still taken considerable losses.
There was no way of going back after a war declaration was issued under the name of the Elfdras clan head. His entire party had banded together to discuss measures that would help them avoid an all-out war against Trent Rietta’s government.
“Damn it! That was such a stupid idea…”
“Benefost’s actions have left us defenceless..”
“What’s more, the rumors about the Princess being here has spread. It might be because of this news that the Darkness God Corps are coming to this port town.”
“WHAT?! That strongest unit?!”
Welsh had restrained the flustered Livona, guessing that the Darkness God Corps were probably coming here because of Gazzetta’s movements on the opposite shore of the lake. Naturally, Fonclanc would probably respond to Trent Rietta’s plea, but if the Darkness God Corps heard rumors that the head of the Elfdras family was hiding in the harbor town, they would exert all their effort in capturing her.
“That’s why if we will not escape from the town quickly–!”
“Ok, ok, calm down… What’s your plan?”
“We will request the black market traders of this town to get us away from here.”
They would look suspicious if they tried to escape during the night, so it was decided that they would dress up as traveling merchants and escape during the day. After leaving the town they would get off the highroad once it was safe and travel to the lake. There they would board a small boat which would be prepared in advance and use it to reach Trent Rietta.
“We’re leaving immediately. I’ll wait at the rear exit on the first floor. Meet me there once you two are ready to leave.”
“Well then, let’s not waste a second here.”
“I couldn’t do any sightseeing after all…”
Despite Valerie complaining about how she had to shut herself in the inn once they arrived, and barely leaving afterwards, her servants had begun their preparations to escape from Fonclanc.
Keeping up the pace, the investigation group had arrived at the port town ahead of schedule and were currently at the inn street. The group was accompanied by the town guard, who helped them to unload their luggage and prepare for the stay.
“Captain, I have received an update on Trent Rietta.”
Isotta told everyone that the Wind Edge army was composed of Demon Beast handlers, controlling a force of the modified evil beasts, and a sizeable army of mercenaries as their main force. Their tactics relied mainly on successful surprise attacks. This meant that divine arts users were useless against Wind Edge.
“The modified evil beasts, eh…?”
“They are clearly related to the Evil Beast Research Institute. Should we look more deeply into it?”
“That’s the obvious way to think about it.”
A courier with an escort, carrying the magic flutes to be used when fighting against the modified evil beasts, was dispatched to the supporting group that had taken up a position on the coastal highroad. These were the flutes that Yuusuke had mass-produced based on the samples that he had recovered from the research institute.
The flutes were made of metal instead of wood and had a complex and fine structure to produce the required sound. Although Sorzak was quite skilled in the earth arts, the flute was simply too difficult for him to recreate.
In the end Yuusuke’s customization ability had to be used to analyze the peculiarities of the flute and copy it by breaking through the hurdles that had defeated Sorzak.
“Speaking of magic flutes, it would be good to have some on our side as well.”
“We’re off to secure the area.”
“Oka~y, thanks for doing it.”
After finishing her report, Isotta and several of her subordinates had scattered in the nearby streets to ensure that there were no enemies nearby. Other soldiers soon followed suit, some of them going to search for information within the town, others – to try and gather what they could get find about the movements on the opposite shore from this side of the lake.
After greeting the leaders of the town guard, Yuusuke had ordered the soldiers under his direct control to take the positions around the inn. This was the last necessary task that Yuusuke had to do for now so he had invited Sun for a walk around the town.
“Is this the first time that you have come to the harbor town?”
“Yes. In fact, I have been eager to see the town!”
“Hahaha, do you want to do it alone then?”
“No… I wanted to do it together with you…,” said Sun, slightly blushing.
Yuusuke scratched the back of his head in embarrassment.
One of them had black hair and was wearing a black corps uniform, while the other had white hair and was wearing white servant clothes – their mismatched looks stood out as the two held their hands as they walked around the town.
Wandering around for a while, the two had found themselves at the end of a silent street. This street was close to the highway road. There they saw something resembling a pile of rags lying on the street. After taking a better look it became apparent that it was a human.
“Ah, it’s horrible.”
A young man was lying face down on the road, his bloody and dirty body covered with wounds and bruises. By the color of his hair, the man seemed to be an Artless. He was still alive, but seemed to be on his last breaths. Yuusuke shouted to Sun to call Aisha and the others while he tried to help the man with what medicine he had on him.
“Hey, that’s the artless girl that we passed a little while ago!”
“She’s the attendant for the Darkness God Corps.”
“Damnit, didn’t you say that they shouldn’t have arrived here before afternoon?”
Valerie’s group had disguised themselves as traveling merchants and were moving towards the meeting place that they had agreed on with the people that would get them out of Fonclanc. Because the Darkness God Corps had arrived earlier than they expected, they were quickly trying to get off the street, being fearful of the soldiers that were passing by them from time to time.
Just when they had gotten away from the main street and went towards town exit, they had stumbled upon a black haired man, dressed in black, who was crouching in the middle of the road for no reason. Perhaps nervous from being so close to the town’s exit, everyone spontaneously looked at the body that was lying at the man’s feet.
Although the lying man was in a precarious state, and his swollen face was covered with bruises, Valerie recognized the man that she knew all too well. It was an Artless youth that shouldn’t have been in this town.
“You can’t! Rifome, stop our lady!”
“Milady, restrain yourself!”
However the Valerie’s divine arts were too strong for Rifome to hold the girl – she easily got away from her attendant and dashed towards the man.
Yuusuke was trying to apply some recovery medicine to help the Artless youth. Confirming that small bruises and swells were all that remained on his back, Yuusuke had turned the man over to heal his chest. At that time –
“Bastard! How dare you do this to Odo!”
A scream from behind his back had suddenly caught Yuusuke’s attention. A woman with an arm surrounded by flames (with flames spiraling around her arm) was rushing at him. She was framed by impressive red hair that had a few radiant green colored bangs mixed in.
“Hey! What are you—“
The black clad man had no time to chat as the flames extended towards him as if they were alive. Yuusuke had immediately responded with an earth wall. The wall that had instantly rose from the ground made Valerie’s attendants suddenly realize who the man in front of them was.
[“The wall… Damn it, he is the rumored one!”]
The flame whip had hit the wall and jumped off of it as the spell attempted to get around the obstacle to reach its target. However, although if it was aimed accurately, it had hit the ground far away from its target, and extinguished leaving only a black trail after it.
Valerie’s divine art mixed fire and wind divine arts. It controlled fire with wind, enabling her to lash with the fire as if it were a whip. Creating yet another flame whip around her hand, Valerie rushed towards the other side of the wall.
“Hey, calm down! Why are you attacking me?”
“Don’t bullshit me. Odo might have been a fool and he had some faults… but I will never forgive you for what you have done to him.”
Dodging out of the way of the flame whip, Yuusuke thought to surround his opponent with wells and drop her into a pitfall, however the intense attacks did not allow him to concentrate enough to actually do it.
“Just calm down. You are misunderstanding the situation here.”
“SHUT UP! He might be an artless, but he’s the same human as us. That—“
Yuusuke realized that his opponent knew the collapsed youth and had let the blood rush to her head, losing her sense of reason. To create a gap between him and his opponent, Yuusuke called out a simple gimmick item to break his opponent’s rhythm. The gimmick didn’t need much resources to create so its construction was simple but its effectiveness was also low.
Yuusuke had tested the usefulness of the gimmick before, but this was the first time he was using it in actual combat. The Evil God had thrown it towards the angry woman with red/green hair.
“Wha-what is that?!”
Named “Living clod”, the Gimmick item was around fifteen centimeters long, twenty centimeters wide, and moved like a caterpillar. Valerie immediately jumped back when it suddenly appeared under her feet. The woman lost her concentration, and the whip around her arm had disappeared. Yuusuke did not miss the chance and had modified the Map Item, imprisoning her distracted opponent with the defensive walls.
Valerie, alarmed by the flash of light and the fluttering light particles that she saw at her feet, raised her eyes, but could only stare dumbfounded at the walls of her prison that she had suddenly found herself in.
This new type of defensive wall was thinner, so Yuusuke could create more walls from the same amount of soil. After closing in the girl, Yuusuke decided to prioritize treating the wounded man over talking with his caged in opponent.
“I won’t. It would be terrible if his condition worsens while I chat with you.”
Valerie had somewhat calmed down because of the earlier events, and could only react that much to Yuusuke’s reply.
Yuusuke returned to the still passed out Odo and resumed to tending his wounds. The small wounds and bruises started to disappear quickly as the medicine started to take its effect. Only after seeing that had Valerie realized what kind of misunderstanding she had caused.
The woman hung her head down, ashamed of the incident that she had caused whilst Welsh and Livon had rushed to her side. Eyeing Yuusuke, who continued to heal Odo, Welsh tried to break the wall with his knife and free Valerie.
Yet, he could not even scratch it. In fact, the earth wall could be destroyed by a powerful divine art or a heavy blunt weapon, however the two of them did not have anything as flashy in their disposal.
“Milady, milady, can you please try using your arts on the walls?”
“Eh, my flame whip? B-but…”
“That person is the Darkness God Corps’ captain. It would be terrible if he would discern our identities.”
While the three were whispering about Yuusuke, Odo had regained his consciousness. He looked around the surroundings and saw Valerie imprisoned within the walls. Forgetting all his wounds, the artless rushed towards the wall.
“Aaaaaah My lady!! Why are you imprisoned like this?!”
“That means… Can those two be…?”
Yuusuke called out to the green haired man that seemed to be the most reserved out of the bunch. Welsh, the one that Yuusuke called out to, hid his anxiousness and smiled back bitterly at the Captain. First he had to thank for saving Oda’s life and apologize for their lady’s reckless behavior for a later time.
“Please pardon our lady for behaving like that earlier. Odo is a very important servant of hers.”
Seeing a group, dressed in black, running towards them from the other street, Welsh became even gloomier. His task to negotiate Valerie’s release just became much more complicated.
[“C-can I manage to deceive all of them?…”]