After taking down Fort Volks, Regis returned to Fort Sierck.
Altina, Eric and Jerome stayed behind.
With 4000 Germania war prisoners, there was a high risk of losing the fort if they slipped up.
Jerome could only be left behind in situations where he couldn't exercise his ambition.
Regis rode the carriage alone.
He did mingle with the soldiers traveling with him, but he wasn't with his usual group now. It was a fresh experience journeying with the thousand soldiers transporting goods, but he couldn't calm down.
After entering the dark forest--
The middle aged knight approached the carriage with an uneasy expression.
"Sir strategist, will it be okay...?"
"What's the matter?"
This is the forest belonging to the barbarians who attacked us some time ago. It would be better to hurry the men."
"Ah, about that..."
Regis remembered Diethart.
He took on a massive amount of jobs during the preparation phase of this battle.
"... Don't worry. We need to be alert, but there won't be a large scale attack by the savages."
"Hmmm, I knew it... The rumor was true."
"Ah... You already knew?"
Regis thought the news of the secret alliance had leaked--
But that wasn't so.
The middle aged knight said with a serious face:
"Because the princess is a goddess, so even savages that were no different than wild beasts yielded to her."
"Eh? Ah, not... Goddess or something..."
"Fufufu, I understand. There was no other way for that Jerome to lose his duel. She really is a goddess!"
This man was knight commander Evrard's subordinate-- Regis accepted bewilderedly.
He continued while puffing out his chest:
"We have the blessing of the goddess! Let's return to the fortress the next morning as planned. Please travel on the carriage with ease, sir strategist!"
"Alright... Well then... I will be in your care."
The group returned without any trouble.
The weather was great. If this was the blessing of the goddess, Regis had no qualms expressing his gratitude.
Fort Sierck was in a festive mood after receiving the news of victory.
When Regis's group arrived in the afternoon, the wide open gates were filled with cheering soldiers, they even threw flower petals from atop the walls.
They entered the parade square.
The citizens of Tuonvell were present too, serving beer and meat in celebration.
Evrard came to receive them.
"Oh! Sir Regis!"
"Ah, thank you for holding the fort."
"You really did it! As expected of the strategist! You are a true hero!!"
"Eh!? Please, please hold on... I didn't do any..."
"Raise your head. Those accomplishing what others couldn't do are called heroes on the battle field!"
They will force the title on him even if he resisted, so Regis nodded hesitantly.
He wanted to curl his body up.
The heroes appearing in the stories Regis read were cool, popular with the ladies and had lofty goals.
Altina should be closer to that.
She should be the heroine.
"You understand, Sir Regis! This exhilaration! Everyone was in utter despair, but thanks to you, we can share the joy of living on with each other. Isn't this an achievement worthy of praise?"
"I am really happy... But really... I just happened to know... And I was lucky. The one executing it were the professionals and troops."
"Haha, you are really timid!"
Smack! Evrard patted him on the back.
Regis wasn't good with accepting compliments.
He saw through me-- Regis thought with an awkward smile.
"Ora, everybody, the main character for the day is sir strategist here! Hurry, say something!"
Because of Evrard's roar, the troops celebrating in the vicinity focused their attention on him.
Regis was at a loss.
"Ah-- ... Umm... Thank you everyone for your support... This victory... Was thanks to the effort of everyone present. Umm... Ah, that's right... Now is a good chance, so I will break the news. Eh--... Beilschmidt border regiment will shift its base to Fort Volks."
The troops turned silent instantly.
That famous Fort Volks said to be invulnerable will be their new base!?
Cheers erupted everywhere.
Evrard laughed heartily.
"Wa--hahaha! What a joy! Guhaha... Cough, cough!"
The troops and the citizens attending the festival were celebrating joyously.
When he realized it, Regis was surrounded by merchants.
"Sir strategist, sir strategist, please award us with the contract to restore Fort Volks!"
"I brought 10 barrels of beer to celebrate today. By the way, do come to our workshop if you require more weapons."
"How about using this chance to buy new furniture?"
"... Hah... That is not something I can decide on my own."
"Please help to recommend this to the princess in my stead!"
"... Well... She did say she would leave this to me."
"If you have anything you need, please give us the business!"
"I know, I know. I will look into it so..."
"This way please, sir strategist! Forget about business for now, let's have a drink! By the way, this child is my daughter, she is about marriageable age."
"Oh, sir strategist is still single!? Pleased take a look at my daughter!"
"... No no no, women have the right to choose too. I am not someone who can marry so easily."
They were all using this chance to market their service.
The strategist Regis Auric was unexpectedly highly regarded.
On top of that, shifting to Fort Volks meant reinforcing troops and maintenance of the new base.
If they secured a major contract with the regiment, they could reap a large profit.
No wonder the merchants were showing their business smiles.
"Ah~... Erm... I still have preparation work for the relocation to handle!"
Regis ran from the parade square as if he was fleeing.
He returned to his own room.
The entrance was guarded by soldiers, so the merchants couldn't follow him into the central tower.
A different kind of fatigue that was different from the battlefield compelled him to collapse onto his bed.
Shortly after! the door was knocked.
Regis was surprised.
"... Who is it?"
"Mr. Regis, it's me, Elin."
He breathed a sigh of relief.
Margrave Jerome's maid, Elin, came over to help from time to time. She was slightly older than Regis.
After opening the door, a lively brown skinned girl entered.
She hugged him with a "Wah."
"Congratulations! You were amazing!"
And a soft sensation, Regis felt he was turning strange in a variety of ways.
"Er, erm... Ms Elin...?"
“I thought it would be hopeless. To attack that notorious fort."
"Yeah. I thought so too..."
"And all of a sudden, I heard news of Mr. Regis' victory!"
"Hahaha... Well, the victor is the princess."
"I was... Really worried, I wanted to meet you."
"Thank, thank you."
Regis was hugged and stumbled backwards as he was being pushed. He tripped over a pile of documents and fell.
This is bad... If I don't clean that up.
Now is not the time to think about that!
When Regis focused on the present again, Elin was riding on top of him.
Elin looked into Regis' eyes passionately.
He could feel her warm breathing.
Regis' mind was blank and his body stiff.
He couldn't comprehend what was going on.
"-- welcome back, Mr. Regis."
A voice came from the door.
But the tone was ice cold.
And sounded familiar.
Regis finally regained his senses.
"Ah, Ms. Clarisse!"
"How unexpected... You actually remembered my name."
"Why!? Of course. I remember..."
Regis looked at her and found her ice cold smile chilling.
It made him shiver.
His current position was stuck close to another women, a bad position to be in.
Regis said in a panic:
"Ah, no, this, erm, Ms Elin came over to congratulate me and..."
"I see. If you plan to continue, I will just leave alright?"
"Con, continue what!?"
Regis struggled to get up.
Elin backed away with a regretful face.
Clarisse entered the room and arranged the scattered documents.
"This is the regiment's fort, not the Margrave's mansion. If you want to play, can you please do so in the parade square?"
A needle like gaze pierced Elin.
Elin backed away.
"I... I am... Serious about this!"
"I see. And so? You think I am not serious?"
"Fufu... There won't be a conclusion to this debate. Mr. Regis doesn't have such thoughts. It's a pity."
"How could it be! Men only think about that, be it day or night!"
The 2 women looked at Regis.
Elin's gaze was full of passion while Clarisse's eyes were ice cold.
Maybe it's because of how Regis was brought up by his sister, but Regis was like a little brother who couldn't stand up before elderly women. He felt that he couldn't handle either lady.
Regis backed away once more.
He felt as if he had entered the cage of a grey wolf.
"... Erm... What do you mean by those thoughts?"
The 2 women sighed in response.
"Mr. Regis is really..."
"It’s Mr. Regis after all."
"What did I do?"
"It's what you didn't do, Mr. Regis!"
"Ms Elin, please restrain yourself... If you go overboard, I will call the guards okay?"
At this moment, Elin's brother Gösta showed up.
He was an apprentice butler in the Margrave's mansion.
"Ah, found you. Sis, I just received master Jerome's letter, let's hurry back to the mansion and report to Mr. McClane... Ugh!?"
The innocent youth turned pale with just a fierce glare from his sister.
"I will return this time! Farewell Mr. Regis. Let's continue next time!"
Clarisse turned her back to the siblings.
"Mr. Regis, remember to get some holy water to expel evil from the priest later."
After the door was closed and the siblings were gone, Clarisse's anger finally eased.
She approached Regis with a smile and reached both her hands out.
And pinched Regis' cheeks.
He was too naive to think Clarisse's anger had eased. Although Regis didn’t understand why she was angry.
"Welcome back, Mr. Regis."
"Fumo... I'm phat.."
"Because you promised... So I believed you will be back. It's great that you are not wounded."
Regis' response was weird because his face was being pulled.
The fingers pinching his cheeks let go, and started to caress his face.
Clarisse put both her hands on Regis' face.
And she drew her lips closer like this.
-- Eh? What is happening? Regis was petrified once again.
She smelled really good.
It numbed the depths of his brain.
When she was close enough for Regis to feel her breath.
"Erm... Ms Clarisse?"
"That's forbidden. Before a woman like me... Being so defenseless..."
"What is happening here?"
"You want me to explain it here? How cruel of you Mr. Regis. I thought you were more gentle."
"... I am... Not very gentle. Others might get such an impression because of my lack of courage."
"Are you changing the topic?"
"Is, is that so; I didn't mean to do that."
"Fufufu... Can I report this to the princess?"
Regis shrunk with the mention of Altina.
Clarisse released her hands.
Before he realized it, Regis had backed away for unknown reasons.
Clarisse smiled happily.
"I was joking, Mr. Regis... Would you like some tea?"
"... Thank you, I won't hold back then. I am feeling really thirsty for some reason."
Clarisse left the room with a bow.
Two weeks after the Beilschmidt border regiment took down fort Volks.
Regis' group were inside the conference room used by Weingartner and his staff in the past.
The empire's flag and the flag designed by Altina were draped on the wall.
Because she lacked artistic talent, the drawing of the shield was redrawn by a professional.
A corner of the room was decorated with red flowers, prepared by Clarisse who moved here from century fort.
"I thought it would be needed soon, so I brought it in advance."
That's how she was.
As usual, the one who had the utmost faith in the princess' victory was definitely her.
Apart from Regis, Altina, Evrard and Jerome were present too.
Only the minimum of forces were left in Sierck fort; the rest have shifted to fort Volks.
It would be their base from now on.
Regis said with a report in hand:
"-- And in conclusion, the relocation has been completed. It will feel uncomfortable before getting used to it. Renovations will be done, so let me know if you have any suggestions."
Altina lifted her hand and said:
"The chefs are sighing, saying they couldn't make anything but sausage."
"Haha... I will get an architect for the kitchen. There will be a new stove by next month."
Jerome browsed the documents in his hands.
"What about the mercenaries? You did talk to the guys from Fort Volks right?"
"About a thousand will end their contract with Varden Duchy and sign up with Beilschmidt border regiment instead. But they are still prisoners of war right now."
"That's too little. 3000 of the 4000 troops stationed here should be mercenaries. There should be some Varden soldiers who want to defect too. Shouldn't there be 1500 more?"
"Our budget is tight, so I made the criteria more stringent. Such as age and battle experience."
"Hmmp! You are as dull as usual. It doesn't matter, we will take in everyone who is willing."
"They would be combat worthy after training under me for 3 months!"
"I, I get it."
"You are ignorant of things that have to do with sweating. Even though you are so well verse with bloodshed."
"Please don't make it sound as if I have a weird fetish... Compared to effort driven stories, tales about intellect are more popular these days. Ah, speaking of genius and bloodshed... I read a book not long ago... It was about an exceptional girl solving mysteries while eating snacks. That was great! Just staying in her tower and--"
"Enough, next report!!"
When Regis chatted about books, he couldn’t stop himself.
"Erm, the return request from Varden Duchy... Do you want to hear the amount they are offering?"
"No need for that."
"... That's true."
"Be it the lives that were lost in taking the fort, or the lives that were saved with the conquest of this stronghold, these can’t be bought with money."
"If we need money, just capture the capital of those bastards. I will burn them down when I have the time-- just tell them that."
"Wait, Sir Jerome? I was just talking about how precious lives are!"
"We would probably make war with them anyway."
"Ah~... I get it! I will reply to Varden Duchy. It would be fine if there won't be any war immediately."
Evrard seemed to be in a great mood and said:
"Speaking of which, the troops seemed to be addressing the regiment by another name."
Jerome shifted his gaze.
He seemed to know about it.
Altina tilted her head.
"And what's that?"
"Marie Quatre army-- that's what they call it."
"This means the soldiers adore the princess."
"Ugh, erm... Is that so?"
"That's how it is! A goddess!"
Altina shrunk with embarrassment.
Regis empathized with her.
Although the territory of Beilschmidt wouldn't disappear, the scale was beyond regiment level. Calling it the Marie Quatre army was more appropriate.
"Isn't that great?"
The door was knocked at this moment.
Because these were passages dug through boulders, the sound of knocking was louder than Fort Sierck
It was Eric.
He took out a letter.
"This just came from the capital."
These words made Altina and Jerome tense up.
They were ordered to attack Fort Volks because of their alliance with the barbarians.
Because the border regiment became strong, the order was passed down to weaken them. But Altina managed to take down the renowned invincible fort and increase her forces by more than a thousand.
How would the 2nd prince Latreille react?
Regis took the letter.
"This is addressed to the princess... Is it okay for me to open it?"
"Of course, this concerns all of us."
The letter was laid out on the table.
It was another long winded letter congratulating the victory.
At the very end--
"We will be hosting the founding day festival in April. Marie Quatre Argentina is cordially invited to attend. This is what father wished for as well. I looked forward to the day our family will be gathered once more."
Jerome slammed his hand on the table.
"It's a trap!"
"Indeed. But we can't ignore it too."
Eric looked gloomy too.
"That's right... It said that it was the wishes of the princess' father... the emperor."
"Again! Turn it down and be branded as traitors!?"
Regis tilted his head slightly and said:
"It shouldn't... be that extreme. But it can't be helped if they accuse us of being disloyal. Taking Fort Volks and increasing the princess’ forces is already a widespread topic."
"With this fort, we can stand up to the guys of the first army!"
Jerome stood up.
From the current circumstances, there might be problems with supplies, but it was definitely better than before.
Altina asked Regis:
"What do you think?"
"Hmm... How about meeting them? They are your family after all."
"They are family. But they might want to kill me though."
"Just try to ascertain this fact. If you want to move forward with your ambition, you will need to face them one day."
"Yes. The main character of stories will always meet a rival. It's so common that they might as well be friends."
"Books again? Can they be trusted?"
"... Probably. Are you afraid?"
"I don't know."
It wasn't often that Altina showed her weak side.
The name of her brother caught her off guard emotionally.
This was an unstable factor which Regis wants to get rid of.
"... This is an invitation made in the name of prince Latreille. Anything that happens in the empire or on the way there would be his responsibility. But that doesn't guarantee that everything would be safe."
"Right... running away is not an option."
Altina stood up.
"I am going to the imperial capital. Even if darkness awaits me there!"
Jerome said with his war face:
"Imperial capital! How about bringing all 5000 troops along for the victory celebration? Well?"
That meant an all out war... Regis frowned.
Altina shook her head and said:
"I just need Regis to come along with me."
"Eh!? Just me!?"
"Ah, Clarisse will be coming too."
"Just 3 people?"
Jerome sat down with a bored expression.
Evrard and Eric pleaded Altina, “At least bring along a guard!”
Regis wanted an escort too.
Because the enemy wasn't just prince Latreille.