Saturday, December 23, 2017

Gate - Thus the JSDF Fought There! Volume 9 Chapter 2

Translator: Nigel
Editor:Deus Ex Machina

An extra chapter has been unlocked this week thanks to Brooks Snyder! Special thanks to you, and to everyone who have kindly donated to our charity drive!

And all hail the godly Nigel for his speedy translation to draw in the crowd! Many thanks for your hard work in doing this double chapter!

Have the happiest of holidays and a wonderful new year!


After the departure of the anti-Zorzal Alliance, Italica was exceptionally quiet.
The only other people who remained on the Count’s domain besides the personal staff of House Formal were various demihumans and Pina’s knight band. They were the foundation of the regular government’s forces, and when they had first come here, their ordered steps had raised the spirits of all Italica.
However, their morale now was at rock bottom, and a slack mood filled the air.
The troops were not motivated.
The morning mist had not yet cleared, and while the sentries on the wall handed their duties over to the next shift, what drove them was not fighting spirit, but a form of habitual inertia. Even a boulder rolled down from the top of a steep cliff would eventually lose its momentum and grind to a halt once it reached flat ground. Similarly, the inertia that drove the troops had come to an end, and all that remained was the feeling that “we had once been a military camp”. The citizens of Italica had watched the entire process with their own eyes.
The leader of the White Rose Knights, Beefeater, sighed.
“It’s only when we meet difficulty that they say, ‘the age of demihumans has begun’, ‘demihumans are going to rise in status’ and other kinds of sucking up. What kind of shameless two-faced crap is this, anyway?”
Once, the nobles of the pro-peace faction ― which had voiced their support for the Empire’s legitimate government ― had been frustrated by their lack of manpower.
Thus, they had sent emissaries to their vassal nations and foreign countries to seek aid, but they had not received an answer which pleased them. Even scum like bandits and deserters paid them no heed. That was how bad things had been back then.
Therefore, they decided to swallow their pride and ask the demihuman tribes for help, in exchange for improving their position in Imperial society.
Specifically, they would elevate the upper echelons of the tribes to Imperial nobility, naming them as counts and viscounts, and have them fill missing positions among the senators.
In short, they would welcome these outsiders to the Imperial chain of command… well, to put it in a nicer, this was a change in policy. They would treat these guests of the Empire as one of them, deal evenly with them, and give them a say in the Empire’s future.
The demihumans would also be invited to take part in the national economy, which had hitherto treated them as outsiders, and when they considered that point, they found it agreeable. And so, the legitimate government’s forces were bolstered by soldiers from 54 demihuman tribes.
However, things had changed.
Ever since the reinforcements from the foreign countries and the vassal kingdoms had arrived, there were more than enough human mercenaries, and there had been a huge shift in the nobles’ attitudes.
In other words, all the positions earmarked for capable demihumans had instead been given to human officers and officials, and once the war began, they said, “your services are no longer required” and left the demihumans behind.
Of course, they had not actually said something so shameless.
Pina had also told the people around her that “only those who were willing to lend their aid in their hour of need deserve to protect His Majesty” in order to keep their morale up.
“Someday, we will be called upon to make war. Let the others take care of the straggler troops; we need to hone ourselves in preparation for that day.”
Those words rallied the men, who were on the verge of drifting apart like scattered sand.
Of course, all they heard was news of the legitimate army’s smashing successes. There did not seem to be any way the coalition forces, with the JSDF at their core, would ever be placed in peril. Nobody could imagine Italica being in any danger.
When the demihuman troops realised that the great battle of which Pina spoke did not exist, they grew despondent, saying, “What did we even come here for?” followed by, “I knew this would happen. Those bastards from the legitimate government pulled a fast one on us” and other such defeatist talk.
Neither was it only the demihumans who were complaining. Even some of Pina’s knights felt the same way.
In their eyes, they were Pina’s swords, the Emperor’s shields, and the heart of the legitimate government’s army. Anyone who prided themselves on such things would surely be unhappy to be excluded from critical battles. The words that had accidentally slipped from Beefeater’s mouth spoke for everyone in her unit.
“You’re right to feel that way, and I understand how you feel, but you mustn’t say this anywhere else..”
Bozes, who had received command authority for the knights, ate a mandarin orange as she cautioned the subordinate who was also her friend. Due to Beefeater’s high rank, if she began expressing displeasure, her men would not only indicate their displeasure with their words, but with their attitudes as well.
Naturally, Beefeater said, “I know,” and then she nodded before falling silent.
She did not want to cause a stir or anything. All she wanted to do was see if she was the only one who thought that way. Hearing Bozes say, “you’re right, and I understand you” was enough for her.
“Also, when her Highness said “someday we will be called upon to make war”, I didn’t think she was saying so without any basis for it. She must have something in mind.
“I can’t believe that. And I’m not great enough to convince others to believe in something I can‘t even accept.”
“Still, I know in my heart that her Highness’ words are true. Therefore, don’t relax. Keep the men on their toes.”
“Tch… I got it. Honestly…”
Beefeater twirled a stray strand of hair at the back of her neck around an index finger, and after bowing to Bozes she left the latter’s office.
Similar talk was breaking out among the various tribes left behind in Italica. Then, there were the rare few principled soldiers who were immersing themselves in their daily tasks.
Finally, their hard work was rewarded.
The Six-Arms and Hobbit soldiers galloped back on their horses with all due haste.
“It, it’s terrible! It’s the enemy!”
The Dark Elf watch commander snorted as he heard this.
“How could that be!? Are you dreaming? Even if there were enemies, they’d be far in the east. Why would the enemy show up here?”
However, the Six-Arms soldier frantically waved his arms about and shouted.
“We’ll accept any kind of punishment if we’re wrong! Please send troops out to verify it!”
After saying so much, there was no way to pretend he had not heard this. After hearing this, the Dark Elf watch commander still had his doubts, but he still sent Wolf Beastmen, renowned for their daring, to reconnoiter the situation.
“Well, that’s how it is. I’m counting on you now.”
“Alright, alright. It must be hard on you too, boss.”
After that, he saw the Wolfman scouts he sent out sprinting back like they were about to keel over before they reported sighting the enemy.
Italica was immediately plunged into chaos.
Pina simply replied, “As expected,” and she ordered Bozes to send powerful scout officers in the direction of the enemy.
According to the men, they spotted what looked like enemy sentries, and there was insufficient information to determine their aim or their numbers. And then, she received a report that there were almost 10’000 Imperial legionnaires advancing on them, flying Zorzal’s flag.
“Is Nii-sama leading them in person?”
Having completed her reconnaissance mission, Shandy Gaf Marea took a knee and said:
“Yes, your Highness. I have personally seen and verified Zorzal-denka’s flag.”
“They number ten thousand… How did they get these numbers, no, there’s no point asking. Nii-sama must have planned to fight the final battle here from the start.”
“Did you expect things to end up like this, Your Highness?” Bozes asked in a very circumspect manner.
“All I can say is that this was one of the situations I had predicted. I had the feeling this would happen after seeing how Nii-sama acts in his daily life. Rather than throw your men away in a hopeless defense until you’re crushed in the end, why not bet on the slimmest of chances and try to end it all in one move?”
“Nobody understands Zorzal’s nature like you, Pina-denka.”
“That’s not the case. From what I can see of the situation, this is something of a surprise.”
“A surprise… you say?”
“The fact is, Nii-sama is a coward. Normally, he wouldn’t have the courage to join a battle like this.”
“Then this truly is an unusual situation. However, you said that you predicted his appearance?”
“Nii-sama fancies himself a hero. No, perhaps it should be, he wants others think of him as a hero? He feels that he should be a lecher because he’s copying heroes, so he goes after women. But he has a massive inferiority complex, and he doesn’t know how to treat noblewomen. He can’t look them in the eye. So he surrounds himself with female slaves. Yet, the fact that he’s satisfied with female slaves shames him. So he treats them very badly, even abusing them. At the same time, he believes that he’s a brave man, and as a result, he firmly believes that he needs to take part in this long-shot battle.”
“...Somehow, I feel this is kind of… unseemly.”
“Well, it is quite unbecoming, so it can’t be helped. In the past, Nii-sama snuck into my bed. I imagine he wanted to use his little sister’s body to prove his manhood because he couldn’t look other women in the face. However, I gave him a cold reception. To me it was only to be expected, but… ever since, Nii-sama went around taking female slaves, and he’s had complex feelings about me. He wants to erase his past shame and have me acknowledge his potency. That’s why he had me strung up and… well, he shamed himself once more and showed his pathetic side to me again.”
How could this be ― everyone grabbed their heads.
Just thinking of the Empire could have been run so ragged for the sake of his vainglory was unbearable.
“As Nii-sama’s sister, I have something to ask of you all. I hope you will all keep this secret. After all, this is very embarrassing.”
Pina’s gathered subordinates all said, “what are we going to do”, and then nodded while saying, “Alright.”
At the start, some people had thought of Zorzal as a threat, but now there was nobody who did so. In that sense, the fact that Pina had not launched into a bold speech had successfully exorcised the fear of Zorzal from their hearts.
“That said, being able to have you here is a godsend. That’s because I will be able to fight that walking mass of complexes with the greatest fighting force I have ever had at my disposal.”
There were less than 8000 troops remaining in Italica.
Even so, that was enough for a defensive siege. If they could hold the city against the enemy attack, reinforcements would eventually come. In other words, all they had to do was stand their ground in the city.
“However, the civil war will not end this way. It cannot be ended this way.”
Pina addressed her subordinates once more: Bozes, Beefeater, Nicolashka, Hamilton and Gray; the subordinates who she had grown up with, and then the demihuman commanders of Dozzel (Dark Elf), Mason (Dwarf), Elnan (Six-Arms) and Koldol (Weretiger).
“Gather the representatives of each tribe to this hall. I have something I wish to tell you all before anything else.”
Bozes asked: “You mean to say, you intend to prepare an unconventional tactic?”
“Correct. Personally, I would very much like to sally forth and meet Nii-sama.”
That’s ― everyone looked at each other, shocked looks on their faces. That was because everyone knew that fortifying themselves in the city would minimize their casualties, yet they could not think of any reason why she wanted to deliberately leave the city and fight.
The Dark Elf tribal chief Dozzel, who had been appointed Viscount of Bedweiden, had a surprised expression as he asked:
“I will obey any order you give no matter what their contents might be, but could you explain why you said that?”
“Of course. That’s why I want you to gather all the commanders, so I can explain.”
“Then I’ll get everyone right away.”
Shandy and others immediately broke into a run.

“Greetings, everyone. I wish to take the field and challenge Nii-sama on the field of battle. The reason is because I want to have this place be the site of the true final battle. It is because I do not want Zorzal to escape.”
While everyone else was shocked silent, Gray Co Aldo asked:
“What do you mean, your Highness? I pray you will explain in detail, that your servant may understand.”
This was Gray’s position; a man looking her in the face and asking her a question when the others had trouble speaking. Gray, a veteran of many campaigns, was giving voice to the doubts that every man present, both officers and enlisted, had in their hearts. Pina understood too ― she had to convince him in order to convince everyone else.
“Let’s assume we were to fight from within the city. In that case, Zorzal’s forces would throw themselves at us. Once the battle drags on, my cowardly Nii-sama would start to panic and worry that our reinforcements will arrive. Then, he’ll flee at a suitable time, putting down roots elsewhere while biding his time to rise again. If that happens, the civil war will never end. Therefore, I do not intend to let Nii-sama have his way, and in order to do that, we must make him forget about the time. We must make him think he’s just one last push away from victory, right until help arrives.”
“So that’s why you will be taking the field? However, if that happens, we can expect to see a sizable amount of casualties.”
“I hope you all will be prepared for that. We are essentially going to be fighting a sustained defense. I’m fairly sure there will be a lot of the losses we’re all worried about. However, it’ll be better than letting Nii-sama flee and prolonging the civil war. If we settle things here, we’ll lose fewer people in the long run.”
Everyone was silent once more as they took in her weighty words.
That was because everyone felt that Pina had a point. Still, this was essentially turning their dead into statistics. To the commanders present, they would be sacrificing soldiers whose faces they knew and whose names they had called. Even if doing so was for the sake of the future, it was still very hard to accept the necessity of sacrificing them.
“Still, your Highness, will reinforcements really come? If they do, how long will we have to wait?”
Pina smiled at Gray’s question and replied, “I don’t know. After all, this is war. If we base our operations upon the progress of our allies, I can’t be sure when exactly they will arrive, but I guess they’ll come within a day or two.”
The Dwarf Chieftain Mason, appointed the Count of Glenda, shifted his heavy torso and rose.
“U~mu. In that case, there’s nothing else for it. I’ll take their first charge.”
“No. We of the Six-Arms Tribe can’t let the Dwarves do all the work.”
“That’s right! Think about it, this is a chance for us ― who have been harried to the ends of the Empire ― to regain our glory.”
Dozzel, Elnan and Koldol shouted one of the other. The other commanders seemed to have been overwhelmed by their voices because they nodded as well.”
“Umu. If we miss this chance, we’ll be looked down on until the next chance we have to fight. We need to achieve a victory here that everyone will be forced to acknowledge. Let’s fight a battle for the ages.”
“Exactly! This is a chance for us, who have been rotting far away from the battlefield, to fight the foe. How could anyone not be happy about that?”
“Oh yes. The chance to shine that I thought was far from us has now arrived at our doorstep. Who knows, we might be able to capture Zorzal in a pitched battle.”
The leaders’ fighting spirit and readiness to fight the final battle immediately spread throughout the men. Their hope lay in fighting bravely until the very end, in order to improve the standing of their tribes and earn a bright future for their families and children. Holding that hope in their hearts, the demihuman soldiers hardened their resolve to utterly crush the opposition, standing fast in the face of Zorzal’s charging forces.


Faced with the legitimate government’s army arrayed in front of Italica, Zorzal’s imperial legions hit them head-on. Given that they had their backs to a solid fortress, it was very difficult for them to strike from their flanks or the rear, so they had no choice.
Their spears and shields raised, the frontliners of both sides met in a clash of pure strength. The crashing sounds from this intense struggle echoed all around, making a sound like dozens of gravel cars colliding with each other.
Lines of spearpoints, arrayed as densely as a forest, crashed into each other and snapped. Bits of shattered shields were flung into the air, and countless wood scraps flew in all directions. Soldiers stabbed by spears collapsed like puppets whose strings had been cut, bathed in the blood that spurted from them.
But the soldiers did not back off. They faced each other down where they stood.
There was no disruption in their battle lines. The men standing behind supported their comrades in front. When the soldiers in front of them collapsed, the men behind them shouted battlecries as they swung their axes down and stepped into the fray.
The Weretigers kept low and swept the soldiers’ calves out from under them, opening a breach in Zorzal’s lines.
Behind them, the Dwarven heavy infantry lined up their shields and exerted shocking force, advancing under the pinpoint shooting of Elven bows, which rained arrows down on the enemy.
Half-naked giants like Lokis and Gigas swung their near-rusted swords.
The small-framed Samzas formed a spear line and thrust one after the other.
Faced with the demihuman troops’ unexpectedly solid defense, Zorzal’s troops began to tire of attacking.
“Since we can only attack head-on, we’re wasting a surprising amount of time even though we outnumber the enemy,” Zorzal murmured to himself as he watched the battle unfold.
While the fighting had only just begun, after both sides had contacted each other, the battle had stalemated. The observers had a particularly hard time bearing with this.
“In the end, warfare is basically figuring out how to encircle the enemy. Pina-sama must have chosen to fight a pitched battle with the intention of avoiding such a situation. After all, your defense is solid when hiding behind city walls, but at the same time it implies that there is no escape.”
Of course, it would be different if she had an escape route, Helm mused, but Zorzal laughed out loud.
“The impudent little wench. If I’d known, I would have brought the elephants along.”
Then we’d be able to trample them head-on, Zorzal grumbled.
However, they could not bring such troops with them and move their forces through the heavily-forested mountains.
“That said, if Pina’s aim was to secure an escape route, then we need to keep an eye on anyone escaping from Italica. If we’re lucky, we might be able to catch a big fish.”
Zorzal believed that Pina wanted to avoid encirclement in order to secure an escape route for the Emperor. In that case, all they would have to do was watch closely, and when the Emperor fled Italica, they might be able to capture him.
“Yes, sir. I’ve already sent scouts ahead to keep an eye on them.”
After saying so, Helm ordered: “Third rank! Forward!”
They beat their wardrums and blew on their bugles.
The formation that had been standing by all this time ― all several thousand men’s worth of them ― began to advance.
Now that fresh forces had been committed to the fray, one of Pina’s units began moving to impede the enemy advance. There were about 1’500 of them.
“Pina-denka, your flaw is that you’re too loyal, and you insist on meeting your foe with superior force!”
Helm continued giving orders.
“Fourth rank, join them and advance!”

“Nicolashka! Have Battlegroup Dozzel move up with Battlegroup Mason!”
The mixed unit of Elves and Dwarves numbered 1500 and they began to advance, taking the charge of Zorzal’s forces head-on.
Their formation had changed shape due to the intense fighting, but they somehow managed to shrug off the enemy advance and succeeded in forcing them back.
“More enemies approaching!”
“Battlegroup Elnan! Battlegroup Koldol, go deal with them!”
Pina muttered, “Dammit,” after shouting her orders.
She understood right away ― Helm was making use of his advantage in numbers to fatigue Pina.
Pina had about 6000 men outside the city. Zorzal’s 10000 men were divided into ten blocks of 1000, and they launched wave after wave of consecutive attacks. Each time, Pina sent roughly 1500 men to repel each offensive.
1000 men against 1500 men. The objective was to achieve local superiority and crush the enemy while reducing losses to themselves in order to continue fighting.
However, that meant that once more than three enemy units attacked at once, she had no choice but to use her own unit to intercept them.
PIna understood this, but she did not expand her battle lines in order to keep fresh enemy troops from joining the fray. That was because if she kept the field of engagement limited, then it did not matter how many troops the enemy had; they could not join the battle and could only act as guerillas.
“Dozzel, you’re too far forward! Move 200 steps back!”
However, given just the slightest bit of slack in their leashes, the demihuman troops broke free of Pina’s control. They advanced as quickly as possible in order to seize the advantage.
The demihumans were excellent individual combatants, but they had difficulty fighting in formed units.
Opposite to how one would bear camaraderie towards others of the same race, their resistance towards other species disrupted their unit cohesion.
Thus, the coordination between the various units was poor. The gaps in their formation grew larger, and the enemy was only too happy to fill them.
And then, the unit composed of humans launched their attack.
The fourth unit from Zorzal’s lines closed rapidly on them.
“Your Highness! It’s a fourth unit from Zorzal’s forces!”
“How about Battlegroup Helmine?”
Every unit was fighting an ever-increasing number of foes.
“Still fighting. They’re locked in combat with the enemy and they can’t move.”
Bozes saw Pina click her tongue and turned back.
“Oh! It’s our turn!”
Beefeater nimbly mounted her horse. She grabbed a lance from one of the troops following her and shouted to her people.
“White Rose Knights! Let’s go!”
And so, a company of knights rode forth.
Beefeater spurred her horse into a gallop over the land and formed her unit into a wedge, aiming for a gap in Zorzal’s lines like an arrow.
Beefeater skillfully swung her lance and unhorsed an enemy officer in passing, and then she plunged into the enemy troops.
The troops behind her maintained a beautiful formation as they crushed the infantry before them in a textbook maneuver. Even their horses were in perfect sync, and the sound of their hooves treading the ground was like the footfall of some gigantic beast.
A ceremonial honor guard ― that was what the troops of the regional garrisons called the knight order. However, this time round, the coordination and synchronicity that only ceremonial troops possessed showed its worth.
“Alright! Everyone prepare to fall back!”
Beefeater’s analysis of the battle situation was excellent, and her decision to retreat was very well made.
At the same time, the unit receiving her commands moved swiftly.
While they thought they could overrun the enemy, the lady knights fell back immediately without seeking glory. Since they were all female, they could not compare to the foe in arm-strength. They knew that once the battle devolved into a melee, they would be at a grave disadvantage.
Beyond letting their horses handle the charge, their fighting style as knights was to advance quickly, strike fast, and fade rapidly. By the time Zorzal’s men regained their order and raised their swords to counterattack, the women had long since disappeared before their eyes. All Zorzal’s men could do was watch the enemy flee, their faces bitter as they stood amidst the corpses of their comrades.
“Attack from the rear!”
While they stood in place, the Six-Arm tribesmen led by Elnan had returned.
The way they could use a sword, shield and bow at the same time made them look like Asuras, and Zorzal’s fourth echelon, who had finally gotten the melee they wanted, found themselves dragged into circumstances they could not have imagined.
(TL Note: Asuras: six-armed demigods from Buddhist mythology)

Beefeater’s cavalry had made a mockery of the unit sent to attack the enemy’s weaknesses, and as Zorzal saw this, he glared mockingly at his general.
“What’s wrong, Helm. Having trouble, are we?”
“I knew this wouldn’t be so easy, but I didn’t expect Pina-sama to be so resilient on the defense.”
“Well, she is my sister, after all,” Zorzal said with a hint of joy in his voice.
Zorzal was still feeling quite relaxed. He was probably thinking about how General Helm would defeat his sister, of whom he was most proud.
“Still, we can’t leave the men in a tight spot like that. We’ll use our next move.”
Helm committed his reserves to the fray to rescue his flagging forces, and ordered the entire army to briefly retreat
Naturally, this was not an easy task. Retreating from an advancing enemy was a task that entailed drawing away from the foe while defending against their attacks, and it was more difficult than advancing to attack.
In order to prevent a total collapse of the battle lines, care had to be given even to its weakest parts, and everyone had to remain vigilant.
However, the officers and men led by Helm managed to do it. They were all hoary veterans of the guerilla campaign against the JSDF, and they were used to retreating. At the same time, Pina forbade a pursuit in order to keep the theatre of battle from widening further ― that was why casualties on both sides did not increase.
As a distance opened up between both sides, there was a lull in the intense fighting.
They used this time to let their beleaguered troops regain their stamina and change out their damaged and destroyed weapons. They reorganized the lineup of their forces. Permission was also given to eat and drink, and one could see the men consuming their rations and drinking water.
Head Oprichnik Upson had observed the fighting by Zorzal’s side all this while. As he ate, he expressed his admiration for the battle.
“Seeing two armies collide head on is a splendid sight, the likes of which history has never seen. General, since you’ve finished testing the foe, how will you crush them after this?”
Helm twisted his lips unhappily.
That was because to him, this battle was a straight-up slugging match and there was nothing splendid about it.
Being addressed like this felt like an insult. However, as he mused that Upson might actually be giving genuine praise, Helm was at a loss for how to answer.
Continuing the battle like this would be idiotic in the extreme, but actually saying, “there is nothing more retarded than doing that” would probably upset Upson, who had just praised. Therefore, he decided to use humility to duck the praise of a clueless man.
“As if, it’s hardly amazing.”
“Still, this battle really was quite nerve-wracking.”
“Oh yes. However, it won’t be like that next time. Thus, I’d like to tell you the implications of Pina-sama using demihumans to fight.”
Zorzal asked him “What do you mean”, and Helm answered, “I’m more experienced with using monsters and demihumans in battle.”
Helm ordered the attack to begin anew.
Mutra led a freshly reconstituted unit of two to three thousand men in a head-on attack. Both sides clashed, and the corpses piled up as blood flowed in rivers.
“It seems it’s become a mindless contest of strength.”
Helm nodded as he heard Zorzal’s thoughts on the matter. However, Helm had already briefed Mutra on the details of this operation before the fighting had begun. All they could do was watch silently.
Soon, the attackers began falling back.
It looked as though they had had it and were thus retreating, but they were immediately reinforced. The constant influx of fresh fighting strength kept the battle at a deadlock.
“In truth, demihumans are driven by their impulses. No matter how you try to remind or stop them, there will always be some idiot who can’t take it and charges forward.”
Even humans were that way. That was a trait that had to be corrected by long hours of training. However, training demihumans in that way was a waste of effort.
And indeed, just as Helm said, once Zorzal’s forces began falling back, there were those who broke ranks and chased them. While the unit commanders desperately tried to stop them, their men refused to listen and continued charging after the enemy.
Even from the rear, the entire situation was plainly obvious.
“Karasta! Have the archers target the local commanders.”
Without a commander to stop them from advancing, the unit would be unable to remain coordinated.
The demihuman units instantly dissolved into an unorganized mob, and they were beaten back by Zorzal’s forces, losing men like they were being sanded away.


As the vicious battle took place outside the city, a battle of another sort began as well, within the Formal family home.
Zorzal’s clandestine reconnaissance forces had made their way into the manor.
Meeting them were the Formal house troops and the battle maids.
The head maid gave orders to the house troops and the maids who had already taken their positions.
“The fortunes of House Formal rest on this battle. Defend His Majesty and Myui-sama at all costs. Understood?”
The maids shouted a heartening answer, and the alarm whistles blew.
“Report! We have intruders! Persia’s team is tracking them.”
The head maid nodded to the Catperson messenger who had just submitted a report.
“This is probably a feint. All of you, be careful! Don’t get lured away from the ground in the confusion!”
The head maid nodded in satisfaction at their reassuring response. She then walked briskly down the corridor to the Emperor’s bedroom.
The door was still flanked by the female knights Pina had assigned to stand guard here. Normally, these lady knights would be standing there as mere ceremonial ornaments, but now they were the last line of defense.
“The rogues are here. Please be careful.”
Upon hearing the head maid’s words, the two female officers clenched their fists over their chests to salute, by way of reply.
One of them was Shandy gaf Marea, while the other was Suisses Co Meino.
Shandy had caused a lot of problems, but that had all been because of her loyalty to Pina. She had received Pina’s trust, and she shouldered a heavy burden ― a personal “I’m counting on you” from Pina ― in manning this final defensive line.
“Please leave it to me. I will defend this door with my life.”
Pina hugged Shandy and Suisses.
Pina knew that the order she had given them ― “to the death” ― was intended in a very literal sense here.
The bed where the Emperor lay was visible beyond the two heavy doors.
Beside them were the Minister of the Interior Count Marx and the Emperor’s favored Countess, Sherry.
Myui, the heiress to House Formal, was playing with dolls on the spacious wooden floor. Her playmate was the Medusa Aurea, who was was dressed in maid clothing.
The head maid regarded the interior, and after ensuring that all was well, she delivered a report.
“Your Majesty. Zorzal-sama’s men are attacking.”
“Mm. In other words, he’s matured enough to take part in this throw of the dice. If he hadn’t been that way back then, perhaps he could have surmounted his hardship and become a king. What a shame.”
Myui raised her head.
“Zorzal-sama can’t become the Emperor-sama?”
“In order to become Emperor, one needs intelligence in other fields. Someone like him is unable to maintain a vast nation like the Empire and pass it on to the next generation.”
Myui tilted her head and asked, “But won’t everyone have to obey him when he becomes Emperor-sama?”
“Well… No, for starters… Sherry, you try explaining to her.”
“Ah, yes.”
Sherry looked briefly shocked when she was suddenly addressed, but she immediately resumed her smiling face and explained to the girl who was younger than herself.
“Myui-sama, people don’t obey a title. They obey because someone is powerful is enough to make them obey. Titles are just a decoration used so that people can accept it more easily.”
Also, when people without ability reached a high position in a group, those groups and society itself would surely collapse.
When she reached this point, Sherry realised why the Emperor had not chosen to explain it himself. That was because it would sound like he was bragging that “I’m the Emperor because I’m so great”, and also because saying that the Empire had fragmented to this extent was because Molt was not suited for the throne.
“But, everyone obeys Myui. Myui’s just a kid, though…”
“That’s because you’re a good girl. Everyone hopes you’ll show that kind of talent someday.”
“But what if Myui was a bad girl?”
“In that case, I’m sure nobody would listen to you. Even if they looked like they were obeying, there’s no telling what they’d do if you weren’t looking. “
“M-Myui’s going to be a good girl!  Rum, you need to raise Myui into a good girl…”
The head maid knelt before Myui and said, “By all means. Please leave it to your Rum, my Lady,” and nodded.
“Sherry-sama, why couldn’t Zorzal-sama become the Emperor-sama? Was he a bad boy? Couldn’t he have been a good boy?”
Sherry was stuck for how to answer Myui’s question. It would seem she would have to choose her words very carefully no matter how she answered.
In truth, both the Emperor and Marx were also at a loss, and they smiled bitterly. The young girl’s innocent question was essentially blaming the Emperor for not being a good parent.
The Emperor seemed amused by how puzzled Sherry was, and so he lent her a hand.
“In truth, that’s right. He’s not a capable boy, and the man who raised him to be so incapable was me. In other words, I’m the one behind all of this. Just as you said, Myui, I’m a bad boy. Therefore, I had to flee here from the Imperial Capital…”
At this point, even Myui realised the meaning of what she had said, and she decided to seek the reason from a different direction.
“Ah, but if we say that Your Majesty’s to blame for Zorzal-sama turning out to be a bad boy, then that’s because Your Majesty’s father and mother were bad kids, and that’s because Your Majesty’s father and mother’s parents, your grandpa and grandma…”
Myui tilted her head again.
“It just keeps going on.”
If one said that one turned out the way one did because of one’s parents, then the root cause could be traced back up one’s lineage. In the end, one would reach unicellular lifeforms floating in the primordial soup. Pointing at such primitive creatures and shouting, “It’s all because of you that I ended up like this” was utterly comical and hardly bore thinking.
Of course, there was no theory of evolution in the Special Region. According to mythology, mankind began from the dirt, but pointing at the dirt and shouting “it’s all your fault” was also a wash. Even if one decided to bypass that and scold the gods, that was ultimately just shifting blame.
If one asked Hardy, the Goddess of the Underworld, she might say, “It’s the duty of the gods to accept the censure of such foolish humans”. However, even if one assigned the blame for one’s miserable condition to someone else, it would not alter their present circumstances in the slightest. A person was the only person who ruled themselves, and the maker of one’s present self was one’s past self. If one wanted to make a better version of themselves tomorrow, then they would have no choice but to begin working on themselves today.
“...Myui-sama. Whether or not you can become a good girl doesn’t depend on your parents. After all, Sherry’s parents were both good people, but Sherry ended up as a bad girl.”
“Sherry, you’re a bad girl?”
Sherry peeked left and right, as though to show that she was afraid of the world’s eyes, and quietly said:
“Oh yes. Don’t be fooled, I’m a very bad person.”
“Is that why you lost your home and family, Sherry-sama?”
“Yes. Therefore. I hope you’ll become a good girl, Myui-sama.”
Myui said, “You poor thing” and gently patted Sherry’s head.
After the conversation between the two young ones came to a halt, the head maid turned to face the Emperor and the Minister of the Interior once more.
“Your Majesty.  The battle in the shadows has begun. My girls have already tightened up their defense, but the interior of the manor has already become a battleground. Please be careful. Sherry-sama, please return to your room. I will show you the way.”
“I wish to stay here and wait for the results of the battle.”
Sherry tried to plead with the Emperor, but Molt shook his head and said, “There’s no need for that. Battles are things that are to be waited out with one’s family. The Senate does the same thing, do they not? In addition, I wish to entrust you with a task.”
After that, the Minister of the Interior spoke gravely.
“Your Majesty. Such a task might be too weighty for the Countess to bear.”
“However, we have somehow managed to reach favorable terms with Nihon. Do you not think we might be able to buy their sympathy with this little lady in case the worst happens?”
“Indeed, that is true, but in that case, the Empire’s dignity will―”
After hearing the dialogue between the Emperor and the Minister of the Interior, Sherry asked, “What kind of task is this?”
The Count clarified: “His Majesty intends to appoint you as the Empire’s negotiator in Japan.”
“Ap-appoint me?”
“Yes. I hope you will immediately set out to Japan from this place. You will be our lifeline and if the worst happens, I hope you will convince Japan to take in those who seek shelter.”
“...And by the worst you mean…?”
Marx quietly told her, “I mean, if His Majesty should lose this battle.”
“How, how could this be? His Majesty is still observing the battle now…”
“Pina is fighting with all her might. Even so, giving it her all does not guarantee that she will win. This is war, after all, and one must consider what might happen if one loses. After all, we cannot let everyone die here. Please, Sherry.”
Sherry looked to Count Marx like she was begging him for help. Marx noted Sherry and how she wanted him to say something, but only replied, “I will draw up the documentation right away. Now, prepare yourself for travel.”
After that, Molt added, “Mm. You may leave.”
“Sherry-sanma. If the worst happens, please take care of Myui-sama. I leave her in your care.
Now that the adults were looking at her with expectant eyes, Sherry could no longer refuse.

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