“Th-thank you very much… for what you have done for Odo.”
“Don’t worry, I couldn’t leave him lying like that.”
Yuusuke had retracted the stone walls, freeing Valerie from her prison, and ordered Aisha’s group to heal Odo. At the same time he tried to question everyone about what was going on here. Odo’s wounds were clearly caused by humans.
Was he robbed, or has he gotten into a fight with other people. No matter the reason, there seemed to be some people in the city that needed to pay for their actions.
Being taken care of by a group of knights, skilled in healing arts, Odo began looking better and better. Valerie felt relieved and then turned pale, noticing that Yuusuke and the others had belonged to the Darkness God Corps. She directed her worried gaze at Welsh and Livon.
Both of her consorts looked as pale as her and were wringing their minds, trying to find a way out of their current situation.
[“Our most important objective is to keep them away from exposing us.”]
[“But how did Odo manage to get so far?”]
The two whispered between themselves. Certainly he must have been wounded by some bandits, however Welsh couldn’t understand how Odo managed to get here.
“That’s right, why are you here, Odo? Did you come here alone?”
“Y-yes! Chief Adjutant General Fyotress and treasurer Airzah are scheming to kill you, your highness. That’s why I—“
Odo did not know the situation his princess was in, and completed his task – informed his Princess about the conversation between the Chief Adjutant General and the treasurer that he had heard by chance.
Shortly after leaving the camp he was ambushed by Fyotress’ troops, but somehow managed to escape them. Unable to use the movement type wind arts nor the healing type water arts, Odo pushed on without rest until he had finally collapsed after reaching the port town.
Yuusuke was unable to comprehend the full scope of the explanation and tilted his head in confusion, but the young man’s story made Valerie and her two attendants stiffen altogether.
“Chief Adjutant General Fyotress and treasurer Airzah… where have I heard of them?”
“A certain organization perhaps? These names belong to the executives of Wind Edge.”
“Aaah!” Yuusuke clapped his hands (rolled one hand into a fist and hit the other hand with it) at Vermeer’s explanation. The Darkness God Corps members exchanged glances, and then—
“Uwaaa! I’m sorry!”
Valerie hit Odo with a fist. [“It’s over,”] Welsh’s and Livon’s expressions were too easy to read.
“So, care to explain what is actually going on here?”
At this moment Yuusuke ordered them to explain themselves. Valerie and the rest seemed to have an idea on what was happening here, and had a concrete reason for being here. In addition, he wanted an explanation for the information that Odo had delivered them.
Valerie was the figurehead for the core clan behind Wind Edge. Three strong clans were hiding in its shadow, and had this internal rebellion to wrest the authority from the Elfdras.
“The initial aim of the organization was to take over Trent Rietta, but…”
“In the beginning, it was expected that the organization would take ten to twenty years to amass the necessary forces.”
Welsh spoke of how the trends within their organization had become increasingly more warlike since they had started training beast handlers in the evil beast research institute.
The princess was completely against the extreme and questionable ways of the organization, so the three clans had probably joined together in an attempt to assassinate the princess and take control of the organization in one clean sweep.
Seeing herself as more than just a figurehead of the organization the entire time, the person in question had hung her head low in despair.
And, at the same moment –
“Basically, the leader was chased out.”
A group in black, gathered at one corner of the street, put heavy pressure on their counterparts. However the situation that was so tense just a moment ago was shattered instantly by a person, who nonchalantly cut in between Yuusuke’s group.
“It’s been a while, Yuusuke.”
Yuusuke looked towards the Moon Mirror Lake, then – towards Isotta, who only silently shook her head in response. She couldn’t find signs of any more Artless soldiers in the vicinity.
“So, have you come alone again…?”
Rumors about the current head of the Elfdras family and the leader of Wind Edge hiding in Fonclanc’s harbor town had reached Shinha. He immediately reacted, sending his army towards the harbor town until the organization’s intentions were made clear.
“So the army on the peninsula on the opposite shore of the lake is the Silver Blade?”
“That’s right. I feared that Wind Edge would also attack Fonclanc.”
“We thought that the enemy’s leader herself had come to the front lines, but for it to be just a sightseeing trip… moreover for that leader to have little to no say in the actions of the organization…” Shinha ridiculed himself for his oversight.
“That means that Gazzetta is not acting together with Wind Edge?”
“Ah, it’s not related to that in particular, but could you explain me about the army that is stationed at the highway? They seem to be acting separately.”
Although Wind Edge had sent messengers to Gazzetta, seeking to declare their plans against Fonclanc and Trent Rietta, and invited Gazzetta to form a joint front; Shinha decided to see Wind Edge in action before agreeing to the offer.
“Well, judging from the movements of those guys, they are unlikely to make a move without us.”
It seemed that the exchange will take a while so, at Yuusuke’s suggestion, everyone had moved to the meeting room of the large building that the town guard had provided them with, and sat around a table, much to the dismay of the knights, who had seen the fight and could not believe that their commander would put himself through such risk to hold this meeting.
“Is that really Gazetta’s King?”
“They called that read head a leader of the Elfdras clan.”
Unfazed by the gazes directed at him, Yuusuke opened the meeting while loudly slurping on a cup of tea.
“Please, take a seat.”
“Thanks for your consideration.”
“Ah, I’ll take you up on the offer.”
Welsh was looking at the strange party at the table and did not see the Darkness God Corps’ attendant, who was offering him a chair.
The attendant was wearing clean and tidy clothes, and her hair had a lustrous glister. It was obvious, that she was an important person (that she was cared for) within the corps. Other black dressed people were calmly spectating the meeting and did not show a bit of worry. They were simply used to such things.
“…this really shows the ability of the Darkness God Corps, no, their Captain.”
“Yeah, no doubt about that.”
If he weren’t treating Artless as equals, if he hadn’t helped Odo, if he hadn’t disregarded Valerie’s rampage, if he hadn’t provided a place to discuss everything between Fonclanc, Gazzetta, and Trent Rietta to share their knowledge on the situation, there was no way to tell how the war would have progressed.
Seeing this the two agreed, that this person, commanding the strongest unit of Fonclanc, was indeed a Hero.
“It it’s him, maybe he will not harm our lady.”
“Please, don’t hurt her…”
Slightly more relieved, Welsh smiled bitterly at Valerie, motioning him to join her, and stood up from his chair.
Valerie had called Welsh to explain the internal structure of the organization as well as depict the evil beast soldiers and those supporting them to the other participants.
Valerie only suspected commander Benefost to be scheming against her, but the news that Odo had brought made it clear how much in the dark she was kept, because she still believed that she could finish the war by pleading her forces to surrender.
“Only her personal elite squad is still loyal to her within the organization. They are not only stronger than the usual troops, but they are also well trained in combat tactics.”
“So, evil beast handlers aside, most of the remaining troops in the Wind’s Edge are mercenaries.”
Yuusuke and Vermeer sorted through all the information, selecting what to report to his Corps, the King, and what to send to Hivodir’s group and ordered Isotta to transmit it, keeping the remainder of what was said at the table for himself. There were some parts that he could only make conjectures about, including movements and the true strength of their force, and the whereabouts of the commander.
“Can we assume that adjutant general Fyotress is the factual leader?”
“Mhm… I believe he is making finance official Airzah to be the face of the Wind’s Blade, while he himself is the one pulling the strings,” pointed out Welsh.
“Good, I understand. Let’s finish here for today. Everyone, thanks for your opinions.”
After closing the discussion, Yuusuke ordered to release the guards around the area from their duties and offered Valerie’s party rooms in the inn that the Corps were staying in.
“Do we have any empty rooms?”
“We can free two of them.”
“Th-then I will … with the lady…”
“I will be staying with the miss. Odo, you will be staying with Welsh.”
Sun pushed Valerie in the back, urging the rest of her party to follow. Welsh bowed his head to Yuusuke for the reception and hospitality, and led the downhearted Odo up the stairs.
That left only Yuusuke, Vermeer, Isotta, Aisha, and Shinha in the room. Shaheed had left to survey the area around the lake, to search for any signs of assassins that might be aiming for Valerie, while Fonke was tasked with the usual intelligence duties. To break the silence that had fallen upon the room, Yuusuke asked Shinha something that he had been meaning to ask for a long time.
“Why did you (as a King) come here by yourself again?”
“Ahh, to tell the truth, depending on the situation I planned to attack Trent Rietta from Fonclanc’s highway.” Shinha casually revealed his plan as if it was not a military secret. This also meant that at the same time he had been keeping watch on Fonclanc’s movements.
Shinha wanted to provoke some sort of reaction from Yuusuke, but the Evil God just briefly glanced his way as if replying [“And?”]
Disappointed by the response, Shinha overheard that knights were to be sent to relay the information to the Darkness God Corps members that were not present at the meeting, and instead offered to do it himself, implying that a familiar face would be more reliable.
“Oh well… but do you believe it’s good to leave your army (the White Sword Cavalry) to continue marching like that?”
“Don’t worry they are used to it.”
“I prefer to continue to worry about them, even just a little bit.”
Once again, although Shinha did not show any open hostility, he made it clear that the ideological differences between the two countries were too deep. Vermeer expressed that on top of carelessly entering the territory of a foreign nation, Shinha was also creating precedents for all kinds of bad rumors.
“If you are afraid of that then feel free to go and defend the shore”
“I would if it wasn’t impossible to do.”
Artless were difficult to track because they lacked a divine arts aura. On top of that, the trained artless soldiers were able to approach divine arts users undetected. Vermeer shook his head, sighing, when Shinha replied in his usual carefree tone.
“… in a sense, we are a bane of the divine arts users.”
In the current society, having a divine arts aura was a norm. People are creatures that adapt to their current environment, and are faced with troubles when they have to make decisions involving developments that they had not anticipated.
One such case was happening right now, in a world that had been under the divine arts users’ control for centuries.
“People with auras and people without it…”
Yuusuke was going with Shinha until the wharf to see him off (under a pretense of keeping watch on him).
“I wonder, what’ll become of Trent Rietta?”
“Now that you mention it, their capital has fallen, hasn’t it?”
There was no news from Rinwaal since the news of its demise had arrived. Hivodir was continuing to hold his position and was also sending spies to survey the situation.
“We, Gazzettians, don’t really care who controls Trent Rietta, but the aims of the Wind’s Edge is an entirely different thing.”
Shinha laughed, completely confident that anyone who attacked Gazzetta would be utterly crushed. Yuusuke did not know if he should be laughing or groaning over this king of belief. Chatting like that, the two arrived at the wharf, overlooking the Moon Mirror Lake.
“Grandma sends her regards, come and play with her sometime. You can even come as a friendship ambassador.”
“Coming as an ambassador is probably impossible. And I am not a lolicon… no, she’s over three thousand years old – that makes her my elder… damn it I don’t care either way…”
[“What is a ‘lolicon’, I wonder?”] Shinha tilted his head, trying to understand Yuusuke, finally giving up on trying to understand the Evil God’s troubles. At Yuusuke’s explanation, Shinha’s face became grim as he remembered the stories about his grandfather.
“Ah, I nearly forgot, be careful about the beasts that escaped from the institute.”
With these warning, Shinha had boarded a ship that headed toward the peninsula on the opposite shore of the lake. As a matter of fact, the ship was rented by the Darkness God Corps under a fake name.
“To swim over the lake to this side, what was he thinking…” muttered Yuusuke as he watched the small boat becoming a dot in the horizon, and turned to walk back to the inn.
During dinner, a message had arrived from Hivodir, saying that they had taken in King Griffzah under their protection.