Saturday, May 25, 2019

Alderamin on the Sky Volume 6 (5 of 5)

Translator: Skythewood

Editor: Hiiro

Yorunzaf charged down the hill, Torway was in pursuit, and Sarihasrag engaged the charge. The three different movement intertwine and encroached each other── and created a big mess of chaos.

The windgunners launch a pincer attack on the charging cavalry from the front and back, and a suffocating melee battle erupted. Torway and Sarihasrag’s units worked together as allies, and couldn’t fire recklessly to avoid friendly fire. Yorunzaf aimed for this opening and attempted to break through. Knowing that they couldn’t withstand another charge, the infantrymen refused to relent. They were no longer in formation, and engaged the enemy haphazardly.


In a word, this was a swamp-like messy fight. Ironically, Torway was in the biggest trouble in this situation. His unit was proficient in sniping from a distance, and didn’t have much experience with melee battles. Matthew was good in such a fight, but he wasn’t here right now.

Torway had one company of 200 men with him. That wasn’t the full extent of his forces, they just happened to be the one who encountered the enemy after splitting up. Taking into account the geological constraints and the criterias set by the officers in charge── they shortlisted the prospective places as much as possible, but they weren’t as capable as the dark haired youth, and were left with three potential places.

Unable to shortlist any further, Torway and Matthew gave up on visiting just one spot, and divided their forces into three to scout the three places, judging that a company of 200 windgunners would be enough to provide effective support.

In the end, Torway’s unit hit the mark. Maybe Captain Garciev’s compass protected Matthew from guessing right. If that was true, then the youth was sincerely grateful. Since his precious friend didn’t need to take part in this terrible battle, then he shouldn’t hope for me── that’s right, he shouldn’t expect anything more.


He squat down in the nick of time to dodge a rider’s saber── his luck had ran out, and he couldn’t count on that anymore. Torway Remeon had to survive this dire situation with his own prowess!

「Protect battalion commander Torway!」「Battalion commander, this way!」

His subordinates who were just as bad at melee fighting tried their best to protect their superior officer. He warned himself not to depend on them, but the youth’s hands holding his gun kept shaking.

「Ha, ha…!」「Torway, calm down! Observe your surroundings carefully!」

His partner Safi warned him. But he didn’t have time to take a breather as his men gathered around to protect him. That made him more prominent to the enemy riders aiming to take out opposing commanders.

And as expected, three horsemen charged at him with bloodied sabers. The youth aimed his gun at them, but──

「… Ughh…!」

He couldn’t aim properly. Not only was his hands trembling in fear, the enemy was too close. He could see their faces clearly. He had always avoided his reluctance to 「kill living beings」 by firing from afar, so melee battles were his weak point.

「Ughh… Ah…!」

He couldn’t squeeze the trigger as the horsemen drew close. Two of them were chased off by his subordinates’ covering fire, but the last rider charged relentlessly. The youth stood stiffly as the horse charge right for him──

「Why are you just standing there, retard!」

A nostalgic admonishment came into his ears. A gunshot pierced the head of the horse at the same moment, saving Torway’s life. He turned instinctively towards the direction of the voice, and saw his brothers standing there with solemn faces.

「B-Big brother…?」

「What brother!? If I didn’t save you, you would have died! This is a freaking disgrace, your weak personality is incorrigible!」

The eldest son of the Remeon house ignored the entire situation for now and grabbed his baby brother by his collar:

「Your face still looks as naive as ever…! How many times do I need to tell you!? If you don’t have the resolve to kill, then don’t stand on the battlefield!」

Torway could only stare at his big brother that was raging at him. Sarihasrag’s expression was beyond furious, and seemed bitter:

「Why won’t you learn! I know you have the talent! And you did help me earlier! But── that’s not the problem! It’s here! In your chest! You don’t have the heart to keep killing!」

The eldest brother hit his baby brother’s chest with a shout. Torway still couldn’t react, and Sushuraf who was watching quietly raised his voice when he detected danger:

「Big brother, it’s the enemy! An entire horde!」

Sarihasrag unhanded his baby brother with a click of his tongue, then raised his wind gun in the direction Sushuraf was looking. He saw more than 20 horsemen charging towards him in ranks.

「Whose head do I need to reap for war merits~~!?」

Not just that, the hellish king with red flowing hair was amongst them. Loping off the head of the commander to end the battle── Yorunzaf charged with this simple goal in mind. In contrast, the Remeon brothers had less than 30 men with them. It was the end of the road.

「Engage them, take formation──!」

Sarihasrag’s order wasn’t relayed completely. Because the horsemen started their charge with an ear shattering howl. The incarnation of violence assaulted them, trampling over the weak infantry. Their bodies flew like splinters as the horse knocked them aside──


And flew towards Torway who was standing there stiffly. His head was hit by the body of his subordinate, which shook the brain under his skull. He couldn’t even keep himself conscious by gritting his teeth, as the youth descended into darkness.

「── If you can’t squeeze the trigger during crucial moments, you won’t be able to protect anything.」

I remember big brother’s words as I lose myself in self loathing. Because his voice hurts me the most during this moment.

「You should be aware by now. The problem isn’t your technique… You can’t even fire on a beast that is trying to kill you.」

Sarihas-nii who shot the wolf kicked away its carcass from my feet annoyedly. Meanwhile, Sushu-nii quietly washed the bite wound on my ankle with water from his bottle.

「So stop thinking about joining the army, you are not suitable. There’s no point insisting on being a soldier anyway. Since you are the third son, you can live in a way that suits you more.」

Be it his crude sarcastic words or the concern hidden under it, I couldn’t respond to them. I hung my head low in silence, and Sushu-nii had already finished dressing my wound.

「If Dad makes a fuss, I will help you persuade him── Let’s go, Sushu. Carry that retard.」

My second brother carried me down the mountain trial with his broad back. Until we reached the foot of the mountain, Sarihas-nii who led the way kept kicking the ground unhappily. However── I noticed it. The loose rocks and slippery leaves were all gone after big brother walked passed it.

… Oh, I see. All sort of things were intertwined, and became so complicated.

Back then── my two elder brother must be filled with gentle kindness.

「──Toruru. You might not be suited to be a soldier.」

I remembered these words I heard under extreme fatigue and hunger. Because my teacher’s voice had never been more gentle.

「I had nurtured many soldiers in the military, but not once had I said 『you are not suited, so give up.』 Because they just need to make up for their weakness── that is my principle. Those who lack endurance need to run, those who can’t hit the target need to shoot, those who are insubordinate will be beaten until they listen. I sculpted many competent soldiers this way. Just like what I’m doing to you now.」

She then walked towards the small cage her gaze was on, and opened the locked gate── then picked up the hare trembling inside. The target I couldn’t shoot.

「… However, I don’t think your character is flawed. Despite being scolded, lashed, and not permitted to eat for three days, you still refuse to shoot this critter. Your gentle personality should be regarded as being praiseworthy instead.」

She looked sadly as I sat weakly on the grass. My heart was filled with guilt and didn’t say anything. I would definitely cry if I relaxed one bit.

「As the shooting consultant of the Remeon house, teaching you is one of my duties… However, will I really be performing my duty if I nurture you into a competent soldier? If I twist your soul and raise you into a bastard who will shoot anyone without a second thought, is that really an education? Maybe doing so would be an incredibly despicable act for an adult?」

With the hare in one arm, she took out an apple from her sling bag… That must be the reward for me after I complete my lesson.

「Eat this. I won’t scold or hit you ever again. After eating this apple, follow me and tell your father. There must be a life other than being a soldier for you. If we explain to him properly, he will definitely──」

My right hand reached out almost on reflex to the apply offered to me── but I clenched my fist before my fingertips touch the apple. I then picked up the crude lump of steel much to her surprise.

「… Teacher. I like my mother’s cooking, and ate a lot of it…」


「But I knew that the cooking includes hare meat hunted by teacher and my brothers. I can eat that, but I can’t shoot── I think that’s strange.」

「… Everyone has things they are not good with. You just need to do things that suits you.」

I moved my stiff and swollen lips, and squeezed out a smile for the teacher encouraging me:

「But, teacher… you are not suited to shooting at people. You look sad when you hit me too.」

My teacher’s shoulders trembled. I shift my gaze from her to the wind gun in my hands:

「Not just teacher, Sarihas-nii, Sushu-nii, and father too── they are not suited to killing people. They are all very gentle. There probably isn’t anyone in this world who wishes sincerely to kill others. But even so, there is still a need for soldiers. Because wars will break out no matter if we are suited or not, and when it does, we will have no choice but to kill the enemy in order to defend those we want to protect.」

Even a child like me understands that. Just like how we will starve if we didn’t eat critters, this was the rule of this world.

「Even I run before I’m afraid, somewhere in the Empire, someone who is more scared than me will choose to become a soldier. In order to protect those precious to them, they will choose to fight despite the fear in their hearts. If so, I think that── I can work harder. I have to work harder.」

I stared at the hare in teacher’s arm, and said with a gulp:

「So, please put it back in the cage. Because… that is my dinner.」

After a moment of silence, my teacher averted her eyes from me and muttered:

「… Even this hopeless part of you is like your father.」


「Nothing… If you are going to do it, then do it fast. Rather than tonight’s dinner, this is actually lunch from three days ago.」

After locking the hare back in the cage, my teacher left with her usual stern expression. Left alone, I said with a smile to my partner Safi that was looking at me worriedly, and said 「It will be fine.」 I then let it swallow a bullet.

After that── I stick the muzzle into the cage with trembling hands.


The hare shivered in the darkness. It was a life far weaker and smaller than me.

I would never forget until the day I die. That was the first prey I hunted.

「──To──ru!── Toru! Wake up, Toruru!」

The sensation of his shoulders being shook stirred the youth from his short slumber.

「… Big, brother.」

「You awake? Then get up, no time for you to sleep there! Those cavalry are turning back! If we don’t stop their next charge, we will get wiped out!」

His big brother’s frantic face was right before him. In the youth’s eyes, that anxious face overlapped with the poker face in his dream.

As he stood up on legs that felt numb, Torway started to think. Now that he thought about it── many gentle people tried to keep him away from the battlefield. You are not suited, you shouldn’t choose such a life. Everyone who tried to persuade him cared a lot for him.

However, Torway couldn’t accept the gentle protection offered to him, and had remained on the battlefield. Contrary to the wishes of him and others, he continued to struggle in wars, killing many people he didn’t even know the name of, and gets tormented by nightmares of the dead── and his hands continued to be dyed in blood.

── For what sake?

He recalled an earlier question. His father asked why he was standing there? Back then, he couldn’t answer. He thought he had not found the answer yet.

If it was Terushinha Remeon, the unhesitant answer would be── to save the nation.

Solvenares Igsem would say without a second thought── to protect this country.

Ikuta Solork… That youth probably wouldn’t even answer.

He admired the way they lived true to themselves, but the youth kept thinking. What did Torway Remeon possess? Why was he on the battlefield?

And now── he found his answer. Not from new experiences, but by searching his past memories.

He was on the battlefield because that was a place made for him.

He had always believed that no one sincerely wishes to kill each other. Everyone has a fear deep within them of getting hurt and harming strangers.

Even so, they fight. For the sake of protecting their nation, fellow countrymen, and people they didn’t want to lose, they stepped onto the battlefield with hearts like a trembling hare. They hung on desperately to the ideal of a brave who didn’t fear death, and the fantasy that heroes exist── they try to fight the icy despair of death with the fake fanaticism created by these illusions.

That was what Torway thought. Hence── the battlefield was made for cowards like him.


As he walked off his dizziness, his eyes fell on the wind gun in his hands. The weapon that could kill from a distance had been evolved time and again, the weapon made for cowards was right there.

No, Torway corrected in his heart. Be it wind guns, crossbows, pikes and even swords── there were a large variety of weapons in this world, weren’t they all made in order for humanity to distance themselves from death?

Despite that, those who were proficient in using weapons on the battlefield were hailed as heroes, and expected to further their heroic exploits in the next battle. As they repeated this process, they probably forgot the fact that they were cowards.

That was why Torway was determined to remember this. And one day, he would let everyone remember that all humans were weak creatures that feared death. That the true face of war were a group of cowards masquerading as heroes killing each other. And also──

「── I want to make this way of living into a relic of history.」

The moment he verbalized his thoughts, the youth understood his purpose as if he was struck by lightning── and shed a tear for the cruelty of this fate.

If Ikuta Solork was fighting to save Yatori, then Torway Remeon had to battle for the sake of ending the Igsem. He had to refute the pride of the Igsem, and deprive them of their lives.

Because in his ideal battlefield of cowards, there was no place for the dual wielding braves to exist.

「… Is that so? Ik-kun, that’s why──」

After coming here, the youth understood the reason why the dark haired youth had always encouraged him, and the meaning of the trust and expectation he held── of all the gentle people in his life, only that youth was exceptionally strict to him. That youth knew that Torway was a coward unsuited for war, but still pushed him to the frontlines.

That was because he was crucial. The youth expected more of Torway Remeon than anyone else, hoping that he would be his partner to relieve the vermillion haired girl from the burden of her dual blades when the time comes.

He thought back on his origins, and understood what he needed to do── facing forward with his gun in hand, the jade eyed youth took calm strides forward.

「Battalion commander, you are safe!」「Just stay behind us──Huh?」「B-Battalion commander?」

His subordinates said to him out of concern. Torway shook his head quietly and walked passed them.

「…? Hey, what are you doing, Toruru!」「Torway, don’t go there!」

His brothers voiced their objection too. But the youth didn’t stop. He pushed aside the soldiers in the front ranks and stepped forth, his jade eyes staring straight ahead── the enemy cavalry had already started turning around from their charge, and was about to charge again.

「I’m over here! Yorunzaf~~~~!」

The symbol of the past he needed to overcome. He issued a challenge towards One Armed Igsem with all his might…!

For some reason, that shout traversed the noisy battlefield filled with screams and yells, and reached his target.

「── Oh…?」

The old general was surprised. Yorunzaf Igsem probably didn’t feel that from the sound, but from the taunting gaze cast his way. He was overjoyed. He didn’t remember anyone challenging him like this for the past 20 years.

「─ Interesting. A wind gunner dare challenge me?」

The nostalgic feeling of exhilaration made him raise the corner of his lips. His right hand holding the reins creaked loudly, and his legs clamped down on his saddle like pincers.

He felt half a century younger, and raise his voice:

「Listen up! Since he called me out, that brat is mine!」

「「「「Yes sir!」」」」

「He might be young, but that’s probably the commander! Open a path for me! Don’t let obnoxious fellows get in my way!」

「「「「Sir, yes, sir!」」」」

His subordinates understood Yorunzaf’s intent and answered as one. They were all mad lads in the first place, and would have no qualms as long as they get to fight with everything they got. The legendary Jump Cavalry formed up for the next charge──

「What the hell are you doing?」

Torway looked back at his big brother with a gaze that was firmer than ever:

「I will defeat Yorunzaf Igsem.」

The youth announced as if this was predetermined. In your dreams! Sarihasrag wanted to shout at him, but couldn’t. Because he couldn’t see a hint of weakness in the eyes of his brother.

「I will take him out in one round. Sarihas-nii, Sushu-nii, please draw the other riders away.」

After saying that curtly, the youth raised his wind gun. Aside from the target and himself, everything slowly faded away from his consciousness.

「I’m the only one who can do it! Because this is the reason I’m alive!」

After seeing Torway’s game face of a sniper, Sarihasrag stood there in shock. Silence fell between the brothers.

Unable to take it anymore, Sushuraf reached out for his baby brother── but after struggling with the turmoil in his heart, the eldest son of the Remeon house grabbed his hand with a click of his tongue.

「… Leave him be. He can’t hear anything we say anyway.」

「But… big brother.」

「Let him do it! Up till now, no matter how much I bullied him, he refused to change his way of life. A huge retard will definitely persevere in this crucial moment!」

With that shout, Sarihasrag used all the determination in his heart to turn and leave. The eldest son of the Remeon house returned to his post, and directed his unit through gritted teeth:

「Damn it! Stop kidding me…! It’s just Toruru, just my baby brother…!」

He filled up the gaps in his formation with his handful of troops, and joined in the ranks himself in preparation of the coming battle. Sarihasrag could see that the enemy cavalry had started their charge.

「Ahh, damn it…! I won’t ever be able to show such crazed eyes anyway──!」

Sarihasrag wiped the liquid blurring his sights with the back of his hand, and ordered his men to fire. The sound of compressed air exploding overlapped with each other in a chorus.

──On the other hand, after entering the focus state of a sniper, all the sound became distant to Torway’s ears. In the silence of this solitude, his senses as a hunter were raised to their limits.

「… Phew~~」

Defeat Yorunzaf. The youth knew the task he gave himself was almost impossible to do. This meant challenging an Igsem and making him admit his loss. Whenever he recall the battles he fought alongside the vermillion haired girl, he could feel that unfathomable prowess which stopped him from even feeling that victory was ever possible.

If he wanted to forcefully achieve this, there was a fundamental problem he had to overcome── bullets can’t hit the Igsem who possess formidable martial abilities. According to his observation, they could dodge bullets fired at him from tens of metres away.

And of course, that didn’t mean they could see the bullet or move faster than them. The Igsem could probably judge the time and target of the shots and avoid them. Their ability bordering on foul play made any attempts to hit them seem futile. If anyone could do this, then the vocation of wind gunners wouldn’t exist. Fortunately, no one outside the Igsem house could replicate this technique, so there was meaning to the existence of windgunners.

Anyway, a shot from the front would be dodged. Instead of that being a problem, it was more like a precondition. The first plan that comes to mind would be to shoot from a distance, where he couldn’t even detect the presence of the shooter. However, Torway’s current situation didn’t allow for that. Because of the taunt he made, the target was aware of his existence. In any case, it’s difficult to hope for a chance for a long distance snipe in a chaotic battle like this.

They were facing each other, which means any normal shots would get dodged. The enemy’s movement might be confined to the horse’s back, but his upper body was free to move, and could even use the horse as a shield. For an Igsem, this was good enough to dodge this shot.

With these conditions in mind, he came up with a plan── First, Torway closed his eyes.


Sound came back to him. His hearing was enhanced after he closed his eyes, and the youth’s brain started analyzing everything he heard. He performed calculations at the same time. With the speed of the cavalry charge and the distance between them, how long it would take for them to reach. He was more aware of how much time was left before the strike.

There was only one key point to his plan. To not open his eyes until the last moment when the horse was before him. Once he recover his sights, he wouldn’t be able to keep himself from staring at the target. If he fired like that, the shot would get evaded. If he wanted to hit an Igsem from the front, he couldn’t give his opponent the chance to read the spot he was aiming at.

He could only aim at the very last moment… But there were three uncertainties with this plan. One, his shot might be dodged anyway. Since Torway could aim in an instant, Yorunzaf might be able to dodge at the same instant too.

Two, the shot hits but both of them perish. Torway who would only open his eyes at the last moment wouldn’t be able to evade the charge. One small mistake, and he would lose his head the moment he opens his eyes.

Three── could he shoot the target right in front of him without any fear.


He couldn’t waver. Since overcoming these uncertainties was the only path to victory, there was no point in doubting himself. The die had been cast. Whether he got the roll he wanted would only be known when it was all over.

The Tremors in front of him grew closer. Torway adjusted his breathing, and started counting the seconds as per his calculations.

Five seconds── imagine the scene of the shot. Making the last minute adjustment from his calculations and imagination.

Four seconds── Use his brain as much as possible to draw the scene he would see in the clearest details.

Three seconds── Be prepared in both body and soul. Feeling the gun grip with his fingertips.

Two seconds── Thought about praying to God, but dismissed that notion.

One second── Thought about everyone in the 「Knight Order」.

Zero second── Open his eyes wide.

During the last stretch of the charge, Yorunzaf was bewildered by a strange sensation. The reason was his opponent who was standing in his path with eyes closed.

He definitely wasn’t resigning himself to fate, or lost his marbles. A commander that proficient in battle would never show such an unsightly side at the crucible. Hence, he was preparing. Preparing on one shot to engage the cavalry charge── the thought of that made the old general even happier.

Shots were fired at leading elements of his subordinates. The enemy probably had great shooters with them, and seven riders fell in the first 100 m. Fifty metres away from the enemy, his forces dwindled to just thirteen, including himself── But he didn’t care about these numbers. It would be over when he lop off the head of the enemy commander. Time rewound back to when he was a fresh recruit, and the old general rode as just a mere horseman.


The cavalry charged into the infantry formation. Flesh clash against flesh, bones shattered as screams from both sides drown each other out. Their fanaticism was at its peak as the hellish horsemen rampaged without any regards for their lives.

「I’m here, brat──!」

Yorunzaf swept all that into the background and drew the saber on his waist. The youth was right before him, less than two seconds away. He kicked the horse’s belly without any hesitation.

His opponent still had his eyes closed. One Armed Igsem attempted to cut off his head as he passed by── but midway through his swing, and his wide open eyes looked right at the old general.


His opponent raised his gun in an instant. When the darkness within the muzzle was pointed at him, Yorunzaf frowned── this was the wrong time to counter. At best, they would kill each other, and the youth wasn’t pointing at any critical part of his body.

His blade closed in on the defenceless neck. Yorunzaf was certain that the youth’s delicate face would be severed from his body. Because even the old general himself could not change this face.

However── the hunter facing such a fate merely squeezed his trigger once.


A searing heat flashed across the old general’s right arm, and the hilt of his saber had a stiff reaction. He looked closer, and found the youth catching the blade with his gun. One last final struggle── but it wasn’t a problem. The Igsem blade swung with the force of the horse’s charge was unstoppable. It could even cut through steel, and then lop off the head behind it.

The old general had no doubts about that── and the next moment, he was betrayed by his right hand.

「── What…」

A flash of steel flew into the sky. The weapon that supported Yorunzaf’s entire life slipped from his hand before reaping the head of the enemy. He never relaxed his gripped. The unbelievable sight made him stared with eyes wide open, as One Arm Igsem’s body thrust forth with his warhorse.

「── Ugh!」

After running past his enemy in a daze for a few seconds, the old general realized his fatal mistake. This wasn’t the time to just stand around. His back was wide open to the hunter he failed to kill earlier.


Yorunzaf turned on the back of his horse immediately, but it was too late. It was the hunter’s turn to strike.


The illogical and unreasonable twins smiled. One last farewell kiss to the old general they accompanied all this while.

The sensation of lead hitting his neck came to him. An icy chill that could freeze his burning heart overwhelm him, letting Yorunzaf Igsem know that his moment of defeat had come.

When the cavalry hoist the red and white flag, the chorus across the battlefield faded to an end.

That might be so, but the clash didn’t stop immediately after the ceasefire was ordered. The chaotic fight from three different faction caused the command structure to fall into confusion. It had well pass the stage in which a commander could stop the fight with a shout. Many of the soldiers missed the timing to stop the fight, and resulted in many unnecessary casualties.

However, the battle ended before the forces were wiped out. As they had already discussed the possibility of this happening during the negotiations, the signal they decided ahead of time for a ceasefire was effective. But judging from the results, the horsemen who rode around with red and white flags shouting 「ceasefire!」 produced the best results.

The figure of them riding around with flags in place of their sabers were very prominent, and left no room for misunderstandings. Unlike the windgunners from two different sides, everyone knew that the cavalry most likely belonged to the Igsem faction, so there were no need to suspect if this 「ceasefire」 was a common consensus. Accepting that the Igsem faction had lost their will to fight, the infantrymen put down their wind guns one after another.

As the battle took some time to reach its end, the soldiers separate themselves according to their forces, reorganizing and tending to their injured.

Torway also directed as a commander, however──

「Ah── Uwah…」「──I-It hurts──」「B-Battalion commander…」

── After the grueling battle, he had to face an even harsher truth. The youth’s unit suffered many casualties. The sniper unit he nurtured personally suffered heavy losses, with many who were obviously mortally wounded.

「Don’t doze off! Can you feel that I’m holding your hand?」

「U-Uwah… Ahhh…」

「We will send you to a nearby town immediately! If you make it there, you will be saved, so hang on…!」

「Ughhh~! Ughh~……!」

「Private First Class Rigui, you are one of the best performers in this battle. Once we get back to Central, I will award you a medal, then we will go to the Hijanka bar and drink until dawn. I will pay for your tab, of course. But if you die before that, then the deal is off! You wouldn’t want that, would you!?」

The subordinate Torway was encouraging had been trampled by a horse, the flank of his abdomen had sunk in, breaking five to six ribs. It would be a miracle if his organs didn’t get harmed── after performing first aid, he couldn’t do anything aside from hoping for the best.

「Shee~!……Shee~!… B-Battalion commander… Will I make it…?」

A soldier that lost a chunk of meat from the back of his head to his neck laid prone on the ground, and asked as if he was grasping at straws:

「Sergeant Loban, aren’t you the manliest man in my unit!? If you can’t make it, then no one else will! So for the sake of saving everyone, you have to hang on…!」

「Shee~!… T-That’s a huge responsibility… I don’t want others to hold a grudge against me, so I will hold on…」

Aside from encouraging their faltering willpower, there wasn’t anything he could do for the heavily wounded. Although the Torway wanted to scream because of this feeling of helplessness, he kept performing first aid on those who could be saved and sending them off, and listened to the last words of those beyond saving── after grinding his heart and soul repeatedly until the very end, he finally shuttled off all the injured to the nearby town. Including those ferrying the wounded, Torway’s unit was at almost half strength.

「… Ah…」

When they had finished tending to the wounded, he remembered that there was something he forgot to do. The youth picked up two guns from the grass, and walked to one of his subordinates:

「……Private First Class Harushin, thank you for earlier. Here’s your gun.」

「Sir!… Is it fine?」

「We have spares. We will be linking up with Ma-kun’s unit soon, so I will return this to you first…」

Torway returned the wind gun to his subordinate, then looked to the other one leaning on his shoulder── his wind gun that had been bent out of shape when he blocked that blow.

「… Sorry, Safi. It is part of the battle plan, but I still toss you aside.」

「Don’t worry, Torway, as long as you are safe.」

His partner Safi answered with a smile when it heard that apology── after blocking the first charge, he toss aside the windgun that had turned into a lump of scrap metal, then borrowed his subordinate’s wind gun and sprite to fire at Yorunzaf’s back. That was the decisive shot that ended the battle.

「… Alright, it’s time to go.」

Torway forced his lethargic body to get up and straighten his back. He won this battle, but he didn’t accomplish his mission yet. Their goal in Dafuma Province was to search for the Emperor.

He led a small number of subordinates and walk to the open plains, and a horrible sight appeared before him. As Torway’s unit joined the fray in the second half of the battle, their losses were lighter. The Remeon square formation that was on the verge of crumbling, and the Igsem cavalry that charged fearlessly both suffered terrible losses.

「──Sarihas-nii, Sushu-nii.」

Torway called out to his two older brothers. He could see his second brother Sushuraf was lying on the ground with bandages on his right arm, left leg and forehead, a heart wrenching sight. His eldest brother Sarihasrag stood beside him relatively unscathed. During the last cavalry charge, the buff second brother protected the eldest brother as if it was only natural.

「Sorry, we will be going now. That treatment facility should be in the forest ahead, correct?」

「……」「… I accept your alliance. Do what you want.」

Sushuraf was silent, while Sarihasrag answered with his back to his brother.

They were stuck here as too many of their comrades were wounded. All the survivors had been sent to assist the injured, and they couldn’t leave their casualties behind and continue the search.

Hence, they had no choice but to agree unconditionally to an alliance with Torway’s group, which was the proposal that they turned down last time. As per the agreement to share intel, they told Torway about the treatment facility.

「Even if we find the Emperor, we won’t ask His Majesty to issue an edict that will brand your faction as traitors. From the very start, we want to end this civil war with the Remeon having the upper hand.」

「… Who will believe that. Don’t get in the way of our rescue operation, take your men with you and scram.」

The eldest brother refuse to turn back. Torway hung his head with his mouth shut, and started turning back.

「─ Hey, wait.」

As he was turning after ending the conversation, a displeased voice stopped him.

An old man with fiery red hair was standing there with a saber on his waist──Yorunzaf Igsem. He dismounted with his bandaged right hand, and glared at the jade eyed youth:

「Explain this before you leave. What’s going on here~?」

The old general said as he touched his neck, the place where the lead bullet hit him appeared to be bruised.

Torway’s face seemed ambiguous under his glare:

「Ehh… What do you mean by explain?」

「I can’t accept the first and second shot. For the first, You closed your eyes to stop me from predicting your shot── then why did you aim for my hand?」

The old general said as he lifted his wounded right hand up to his head. He could barely move his thumb. That instant when his blade was about to lop off Torway’s head, the youth landed a precise shot that pierced the inside of his palm. With the muscle needed to close the thumb gone, the saber would fall out easily.

After hesitating for a moment, the youth answered self mockingly:

「… Because that is the only spot I was confident of hitting.」

「I don’t get you.」

「Because I know Yatori-san… so if I aim for a crucial spot, then you who is also an Igsem will definitely dodge the bullet. So I aim for a place you can’t evade── and the only spot that meet this criteria is your right hand wielding the saber.」

Torway unveiled his thoughts. No matter how formidable a person was, it would be difficult to attack and dodge at the same moment. The Igsem might be able to do so, but that didn’t happen this time. Maybe it’s because the slash came from horseback, maybe Torway didn’t show his target until the last moment, or maybe the old general never thought his hand would get shot── These factors all probably played a part.

「If both of us were standing on even ground, things probably wouldn’t have turned out this way. Because the saber came from horseback, I could predict the trajectory of your arm. From that height, the arm should move around here… and it happened just like the simulation in my mind.」

「… I might not slash at you, correct? What if I run you over with the horse instead?」

「If you did that, you can’t be certain if I will really die. To end this battle, you have to force the enemy commander to surrender, or spread the news of my death in a dramatic fashion. So I know you will come for my head. You have the skill, experience and confidence, there is no reason for you to avoid this duel.」

Torway said with utmost respect. Yorunzaf glared even more angrily when he heard that, and caress his neck again.

「If so, that explains your nefarious actions. Then── why am I still alive?」

That was the biggest reason for his unhappiness. He was deprived of his death at the end of the battle. The youth before him had taken away his deep conviction.

「… Because I lowered the air pressure before firing the shot.」

「Are you mocking me? I’m asking why you lowered the pressure.」

As Yorunzaf glared at him, the youth seemed troubled until he suddenly grin. Although that grin looked no different from a crying face.

「It’s the same reason why I aimed for your hand.」


「If I didn’t, I won’t have the confidence of hitting my mark… When I’m close enough to see my opponent’s face, or when I know the enemy, I won’t be able to aim properly as my body can’t accept killing someone else. Hence… I intentionally avoid shooting at a fatal spot to stop my trembling. I’m confident of rendering someone unconscious without killing them.」

「I’m not your acquaintance. What will you do if I continue to direct the battle after waking up? Even without my hand, I can still lead my men.」

The old general refute coldly. He was afraid, but Torway refused to back down and answered:

「I didn’t take your life… instead, I took your pride.」

「… What?」

「In that chaotic fight, I had to keep you alive to minimize the damage as much as possible. Because only you, the commander of the cavalry, can order them to roam the battlefield with the red and white flags. With that in mind, shooting to kill was not an option from the very start.

Besides, you are Yatori-san’s grand uncle. That’s another reason why I avoided a fatal shot, and the reason behind the second shot. You accepted my challenge as a warrior, and lost to me. Even if you get the chance to turn the situation around, your pride won’t allow it.」

The youth’s answer turned One Armed Igsem dumbstruck.

Even when the old general showed a face that seemed to say 「what nonsense is this whippersnapper spouting」, the youth stubbornly refuse to avert his gaze── at this moment a hearty laugh interjected between the two.

「Wahahaha! Nicely done, young man! Great rebuttal!」


After laughing for a while, the most seasoned member of the 「Jump Cavalry」, who was also the adjutant to the general walked to his superior and patted his shoulder.

「It’s time for us to bow out, General. This young chap managed to fool you, so it seems like the nefarious goddess of war had no plans to grant you the death that you wish for.」


「No matter how much of a racket old men like us makes, the times will keep on changing. Who knew that such a soldier will show up and defeat us? Ara~ living a long life is both joyous and cruel…」

Daolon lamented. After glancing at his sighing adjutant, Yorunzaf glared at Torway again.

「… I admit it’s your win, but if that is so, you are being too laxed with me. According to the decorum of war, shouldn’t you imprison the enemy general you worked so hard to defeat?」

「Didn’t I asked for you to hoist the red and white flags in exchange for not taking you prisoner? And to be honest… we can’t spare the effort to imprison you. How should we hold a prisoner that will remain a threat even when tied up and surrounded by guns? That’s like letting a ferocious beast loose amongst us… You might not be able to use your hand for now, but I have no intention to try.」

「How pathetic. It’s not too late yet, just kill me!」

「I can’t do that either. You are well respected by the Igsem faction, and killing you will earn their ire. It might even affect negotiations in the future. It might be hard for you to understand, but our goal is to mediate for this coup.」

「… Tch… You keep making excuses to not kill people…」

「I can say the same about you, you don’t have to be so adamant on dying…」

「Hahh? What did you just say about me, you little bitch!? I’ll have you know I graduated top of my class in the Military Academy, been involved in numerous secret raids on Kioka, and have over 300 confirmed kills. I am trained in gorilla warfare...」

「N-No, nothing… E-Erm, can you let me off for now? I need to go.」

Torway pleaded desperately. After Daolon patted the shoulder of the old general again, the fiery haired man clicked his tongue and stared at his bandaged right hand as if he just remembered that:

「… I might not be able to wield a sword again.」

「That’s right.」

「Even holding a rein could be a problem. I had been taking care of both tasks with one arm.」

「Yes, that’s correct. But General, injury or not, someone your age should refrain from playing with swords and horsing around.」

Daolon commented mercilessly. The way he put it made Yorunzaf burst out in laughter:

「── Hahaha! You got that right!」

After shaking off the sentimental feelings with a laugh, One Armed Igsem turned back to the youth and walked over briskly. He used his injured right hand and pounded on the chest of the youth who was leaning back in fear:

「Hey, Remeon boy.」


「Straighten your back. I can’t imagine it, but gunners like you will be the mainstay of the battlefield in the future, right?」


「I know you are hopelessly timid, but you have to show the confidence of a coward. Whether you are brave or timid, humans are beings that move forward towards a lifestyle they have deep conviction in.」

The old general said with a wide grin, and gestured to his adjutant with a gaze. He then turned his back to the junior who had surpassed him:

「Work hard, young chap. I won’t give you any warning. In the end, you didn’t kill me or take me prisoner, so I will still be a commander in the Igsem faction, and your enemy in this coup.」

「… We will end the coup immediately and turn you back to our ally.」

「That will be for the best── Sigh, try your best then.」

He waved his lone arm and left for real this time. His surviving subordinates waited on the other end for the old general to return, and his fiery hair tied up in a ponytail fluttered in the wind blowing from the side.

Fierce General Yorunzaf Igsem. A man who loved war the most, and rode the hardest in the battlefield. Torway who had bested that Igsem on the battlefield witnessed the historic moment he retired from frontline action──

A group of cavalry rode in the night. In the center of the group that was holding on to the reins tightly Lieutenant Colonel Lucika Kursk was filled with anxiety.


A light beam had caught them from behind. An Igsem pursuer with a light sprite had illuminated Lieutenant Colonel Lucika’s group with a searchlight.

They were probably light cavalry tasked with tracking enemies, and would be hard to shake off.

They stole a march on us── She knew that there was no point crying over spilled milk, but she couldn’t help agonizing over it.

A few days ago, seeing that the search was reaching the end, she shifted the main base of the search towards the south, and was attacked during the move.

And of course, Lieutenant Colonel Lucika took measures against such a situation. Since the three factions were the same province, they couldn’t let their guard down along the way… However, she underestimated the scale of the attack.

With the search area dwindling down, and all the factions shifting their forces to the south, she didn’t expect the Remeon main forces behind to be attacked by a large cavalry unit.

When they were attacked, their battalion was 2 km from the leading elements of their forces. Due to geographical constraints, the distance between each company was rather far. They would be able to link up just a little bit further ahead, and would be spread out for just tens of minutes. The cavalry used this chance to attack at a speed that rendered the posted scouts useless.

「It will be bad if we get into a fight, don’t slow down! First Lieutenant Kumunen, is His Highness alright?」

「Yes, he is here!」

Her subordinate, escort team leader First Lieutenant Kumunen, answered. The figure riding with him wore his hood low.

After glancing at that figure, Lieutenant Colonel Lucika turned her gaze back to the front and grit her teeth.

「I was careless…!」

She cursed her own incompetence for showing an opening at this crucial juncture── even if others mock her for being timid, she should have brought more troops during the move for safety. After all, the one she was escorting could affect the very fate of the Empire.

Right now, Lieutenant Colonel Lucika only had two cavalry platoon with her, which was the escort platoon and a platoon from the main force. They had twice that number when they fled from the battlefield, but that number dwindled on their way here. Fortunately, the pursuing forces had dropped significantly too, and even if the enemy had only half their numbers, she couldn’t let them catch her.

「──! I see the river! Follow it down south, cross the bridge!」

Thanks to the moonlight, Lieutenant Colonel Lucika found the shimmering surface of the river, and a way out of this long escape journey.

The bridge over the slow flowing river matches her memory. It was around ten metres long, and more than 4 metres wide, an impressive bridge. Cavalry could pass through easily in file formation.

「Switch to three files formation! Don’t slow down, charge through the bridge in one shot!」

Her subordinates switch position on her orders, and nimbly formed up to match the width of the bridge. The moment they were done, the leading riders charged up the bridge. The horses could cover this distance in no time, however── their hasty pace was blocked by the searchlight coming directly from in front of them.

「…? Halt!」

The leading riders blinded by the light stopped. Lucika also stopped the riders behind. They glared at the obstacle blocking their path.

「Pardon me, you seem to be the unit that escaped with the First Prince.」

A young female voice came from the other end of the bridge. Lieutenant Colonel Lucika clicked her tongue. As the side that staged the coup, there was no way she would mishear this voice.

「… You are First Lieutenant Yatorishino Igsem, right. I didn’t expect you to ambush us here ahead of time.」

「Due to this trying times, I had been promoted to brevet Lieutenant Colonel. Long time no see, Lieutenant Colonel Lucika Kursk. Pardon me for initiating the conversation without meeting you face to face.」

「Since we are the same ranks, you don’t need to apologize or use honorifics. We aren’t that close to greet each other intimately either.」

「Then let’s jump straight to the point. Please surrender immediately, Lieutenant Colonel. Our mission is to rescue the First Prince who has been abducted by the rebel army. We don’t wish to fight any unnecessary battles.」

She firmly advised her enemy to concede. Lieutenant Colonel Lucika squint at her opponent on the other end, and racked her brain── she couldn’t tell what type of soldiers there were, but there were at least one platoon of them. The second half of the bridge were blockaded with cheval de frise.

She knew that the situation was difficult, but she didn’t have the time to deliberate or have much options to choose from. She managed to put some distance between her and the enemy, but her pursuers would catch up very soon. If the enemy attack from the front and back at the same time, it would be checkmate. To avoid that, she had to overcome this obstacle before the pursuers arrive.

「… Well then, we have to force our way through.」

Lieutenant Colonel Lucika responded decisively, putting her hands behind her back to signal to them.

「A word of advice, it will be difficult to achieve that. For the safety of His Highness, will you please reconsider your decision.」

「For the sake of this country’s future, I refuse.」

The 「Ice Lady」 was adamant, and said to her subordinates around her:

「All units to run in circles to gain speed! Cut a path through! After accelerating, begin your charge!」

The units behind had already started to move in accordance to her hand signals. Lucika also tugged on her reins to turn around. At the same time, crossbow bolts were fired from the other bank, and the battle started with the swishing of the wind.


The cavalry who gained momentum by circling around charged up the bridge, and the battle reached its climax. It was clear from the armour covering the horse and rider that they were heavy cavalry, responsible for opening a path in such dire situations.

But the defenders wouldn’t falter so easily. Their bolts aimed for the riders hesitating before the cheval de frise, and searchlight would flicker on and off to confuse the horse and rider. It was a plan that made full use of a small number of illumination troopers, a precise and flexible tactic. This made Lieutenant Colonel Lucika bite her lower lip. This felt like a spur with a veteran commander, and not a girl in her teens.

「… However!」

She squeezed her trigger as she said that. Lieutenant Colonel Lucika crushed the enemy’s lightsource with her shots, which was the light sprite’s 「light hole」. She wasn’t fazed by the overlapping light and darkness, and her shots landed with precision. That was to be expected── she wasn’t just the top advisor of the Remeon faction, but also the shooting consultant of the Remeon house. She was Torway’s teacher, and was a top five shooter in the Empire.

She also accumulated long years of experience. Her reputation as the Remeon faction’s wisdom was on the line, and couldn’t afford to lose.

As she encourage herself this way, Lieutenant Colonel Lucika shift her sights on the other end of the bridge── the river flowing gently upstream.

Shortly after, the enemy seemed to have noticed that too as a searchlight shone the way she was looking. A few horsemen were trying to cross the river there. They were ordered to move inconspicuously at the start of the battle.

Lieutenant Colonel Lucika used her natural intellect to deduce the enemy’s thoughts── Yatorishino Igsem would probably judge that this was a plan to flank the river and attack her from the rear, or a scheme to escort someone off the battlefield. Her attention would be divided between these two possibilities.

When she got on that track of thinking, she would need soldiers and light. Given how the light sources had diminished by half from Lucika’s shooting, if they divert the light there, then the bridge would momentarily fall into darkness──

「All units, standby for my next signal.」

After getting her subordinates ready, the 「Ice Lady」 waited for that moment with bated breath. Each second seemed ten times longer── and as she expected, most of the light on the bridge disappeared.

「Now! Charge, break through the enemy blockade!」

The cavalry charge on that order, straight into the darkness with their lance at the ready. Unable to see the cavalry’s action, the enemy was late in their defences. The leading horseman charged right at the cheval de frise with his heavy armor.


After the third horsemen charged into it, they finally got results. The barrier broke under the pressure, opening a critical path. The riders behind trampled over their comrades body gleefully through the gap── and a wall of fire suddenly erupted before them.


Lucika was at a lost for words. The fire had a blinding effect on par with the flickering searchlights. They must have dosed the cheval de frise with oil and straws in anticipation of the barrier failing. The horses spooked by the heat and fire were reluctant to charge forth, and the cavalry couldn’t go through the defensive gap that was created. During all this time, the volley fire from crossbows kept raining down on them.

「Shyaa──!」「Ughh!」「It burns──!」

The arrows aimed at the gaps of the armor penetrated men and horse mercilessly, and the cavalry that charged into the cramped stuff couldn’t move freely. That wasn’t all, the foot soldiers moved forth through the bridge that was now a hellish place because of the fire and the cheval de frise.

「U-Uwah?」「D-Damn you!」「How dare you mere footmen──!」

The front ranks of the cavalry started screaming. The cavalry that lost their mobility was ripe for the picking by the footmen. Unable to wield their lances and polearms effectively, the nimble footmen achieved great results with their crossbows outfitted with spear attachments.


Lucika couldn’t breath as she watch her men getting cut down with every passing second. She had to admit that she lost the battle of wits. The fight was over, there was no way out. Unless the enemy makes a major mistake, she couldn’t turn the tide──


She dismounted, judging that riding a horse wouldn’t offer her any advantage, and a bright red figure entered her vision. Her vermillion hair fluttered in the wind, and she wield a saber and short sword stained with the blood of humans and mounts. The strongest dual sword cut a path through the cavalry easily, and stopped before Lucika Kursk.

「I demand your surrender, Lieutenant Colonel Lucika Kursk. You have no chance of winning.」

Her dark red eyes stared right at her opponent as she made this proclamation. Lucika fixed her bayonet swiftly, but she couldn’t refute her opponent’s statement.


As she gets pushed to the brink, a scream came from behind her. She didn’t need to turn to know who it was. The hooded person was thrown off his mount by the agitated horse. After sweeping the area, he managed to make out his protector and ran over:

「You! S-Save me! Please, please…!」

「Y-Your Highness…」

The man behind Lucika pleaded for his life with no regards for his image. His hood that was pulled back revealed a frail face with sunken cheeks, teary eyes and blonde hair that had lost its luster.

He was the First Prince of the Katjvarna Empire──Laishennu Kitora Katjvanmaninik. The royal first in the line of succession that was under the 「protection」 of the Remeon faction when the coup was stage.

「I will say this again, Lieutenant Colonel Lucika Kursk. Please surrender. I don’t wish to continue the battle and drag His Highness into unnecessary danger.」

Yatori demanded again. Lucika who was caught between a formidable foe and her escort target seemed to be in a dilemma. However, she herself didn’t think so. She kept analyzing in this extreme situation to make full use of this chance that presented itself out of the blue.

Yatorishino Igsem. The enemy commander was literally in front of her. If she could subdue her, then there was a chance she could break through the enemy reeling from the lost of their leader.


However, it was nigh impossible to do so. Even with a wind gun in her hand, she had to be delusional to think she could challenge and win against an Igsem. Lucika had to use her wits that made her subordinates call her 「Ice Lady」 to overcome the greatest crisis of her life.

The smartest person from the Remeon faction was not to be trifled with. Five seconds after grasping the situation, she already arrived at an answer.


The First Prince grunted dumbfoundedly── This was Lucika’s answer. She pulled the royal to her by the collar, aim him at Yatori and kicked his back.


All the imperials were shocked at the sight of that. The 「Ice Lady」 who initiated all that raised her rifle without any hesitation. She aimed for the vermillion haired girl, with the stumbling Prince closeby.

The absolute loyalty towards their master was one of the elements that make up the psyche of the Igsem. After researching her background, she knew that Yatorishino Igsem showed these signs prominently. If so, then the girl would lose her cool in this situation. Either her outrage towards the indignant treatment of the royal, concern for the falling Prince, or the selfless act of protecting the Prince who was stumbling into her line of fire── just one of these emotions would be enough. If the girl wavered just a little, Lucika’s gun that had been honed carefully to take out her foes would shoot through that opening──


Yatori leaned forward and lowered her stance. Judging that she was preparing to catch the Prince, Lucika pulled the trigger. The shot was just 2 cm away from the Prince’s temple. The bullet flew through the path predetermined by the marksman.


The woman bet her entire life on this bullet── flew over Yatori’s body that was much lower than expected, breezing through her vermillion hair.

Lucika was just wrong about one thing. Yatori lowered her stance not because she wanted to catch the flailing Prince, but the opposite. She swept the legs of the Prince, making him fall flat on his face. It was widely accepted that proning down was the best way to not get shot, and she did that without any hesitation. With the calmness that matches the 「Ice Lady」’s forte, Yatori chose to let the Prince bruise his nose instead of bleeding out from his back, believing firmly that this was the best option.

「── But why?」

Lucika was just unlucky about one thing. If it was the Yatorishino Igsem from two years ago, attacking the royal might have worked. But the girl learned a lesson when she was still a cadet Warrant Officer.

The attempted abduction of the Third Princess by Captain Ison Hou. Back then, Princess Chamille was taken hostage, and Yatori had to protect her while surrounded by enemies, and made a mistake due to Captain Ison’s psychological warfare. Her comrades arrived in time to save her, but she still learned something from that failure.

「── Hahh!」

Her low stance wasn’t just to trip the Prince, but also showed Yatori’s determination to close in with the enemy. Lucika tried to riposte the approaching blades with her bayonet, however──


Her bayonet didn’t even touch anything. Yatori charged into her opponent’s arms and knocked her hilt into her foe’s temple. Lucika vomited out stomach acid and staggered back. Closing in with just one stride, the vermillion haired girl held the tip of her short sword against the woman’s neck.

「… You are strong. Not just your skills, but also the heart to search for a way no matter how dire the situation was. You are a true warrior.」

「… Ughh…」

「That’s why, please yield. Losing an excellent officer like you will be an incredible loss to the imperial army. I don’t wish to see that happen.」

Yatori said with the utmost respect and sincerity. Even at a time like this, Lucika still sneaked a bullet to her partner, and twitched her facial muscles in self mockery── the gulf was too wide. Compared to herself who was crawling on the ground like a bug, this girl seemed so noble and beautiful.

But that was wrong. The girl wasn’t showing the way for a human to live, but the aesthetic of a sword without flesh or blood.

How can I stand being bonded by something like this! Lucika thought with anguish pride.

She was prepared to give everything to that man. Even if she had to fall into the deepest chasm, she was determined to push him to the highest peak.

「──Fu, fu…」

And so── Crimson swordsman, for the sake of fulfilling my wish, a despicable woman like me will betray your expectations as many times as it takes.

The wind sprite had finished its air compression. Right before that, Lucika’s body fell backwards in front of Yatori. To a bystander, it might seem like her legs had given up from despair, but that wasn’t so. Even at this juncture, her limbs were still moving with purpose.


As her field of vision turned towards the sky, Lucika only looked down for one instant. Yatori didn’t move. She was probably confident of stopping any counterattack her opponent might make.

Lucika felt relieved── she could surprise this girl for once.

She fell with her back to the ground, and her body, arms and legs were almost parallel to the bridge── at that moment, the vermillion haired girl 「detected」 a sign with her eyes.

Showing the brightest smile in her life at the sight of the girl’s reaction, Lucika Kursk pulled the trigger.

In that instant, time on the battlefield froze forever.

The knees of the vermillion haired girl drop down onto the woman falling back. The soldiers fighting everywhere else on the bridge stopped and stared at that scene in shock.

The two bodies were connected by the blade of the saber shimmering in the moonlight, held in Yatori’s right hand. The sharp tip of the blade was thrust into the chest of the woman.

「── Ugghhh!」

The woman who fell onto her back with fresh red liquid splurting from her mouth. It kept flowing out like an open tap, as an irreparable hole had been made in the container that was holding these liquid of life.

「… Really now… Even that didn’t work?」

Lucika muttered with a face of disgust. After seeing the result of the shot she took, her slightly raised head fell back onto the ground.

The slender man squatted on the bridge in fear. His teeth was chattering, which undoubtedly meant he was alive.

And── there was a small hole on the railing above his head. It was a tiny smoking hole, but it was the mark of the last failure of that woman.

「…… Why…」

Yatori asked in a deep voice. Lucika narrowed her eyes bafflingly:

「Why…? What do you mean, why?」


「I won’t hand him over. Not to you, Igsem. So, I can only do this.」

The woman said this obvious reason without hesitation. This was the most despicable and treasonous crime a soldier could commit, but she didn’t show any remorse at all.

「But it didn’t work. I bet everything on it, but my life will end in such an unsightly failure── So in what little time I have life, I will hate you. It has been so long since I did that… So let me vent my anger unreasonably on you.」

Lucika stared right at Yatori and said with a sarcastic tone. The vermillion haired girl couldn’t pull out her sword even with that gaze on her. She knew that if she moved, the woman’s life would end.

「Hey, Yatorishino Igsem… why do you fight?」

The woman asked all of a sudden, and the Igsem within the girl’s heart answered on reflex:

「… The same as you. I fight to protect all the citizens of the Empire.」

「Hah, I’m different. Don’t lump me in with all that.」

Lucika’s weak voice suddenly regained strength, and her rebuttal tone bore a hint of hatred. Yatori looked motionlessly back at the woman.

「Don’t be mistaken. I’m just fighting for the one I love, and has no obsession over the greater good. If that person wishes so, then I’m fine with sacrificing my everything.」

「I’m not doing this to save the nation, or for the salvation of the citizens. Merely because he wishes so… If I don’t do this, I won’t be able to save him.」

The reflection of the girl appeared on the woman’s eyes, and she showed an obvious expression of pity for a brief moment:

「── Pitiful child. What can stopping this coup bring you? Will it bring you happiness? If you continue to protect the Empire that don’t have a future, you will die together with it one day.
You won’t enjoy the happiness of a woman, and the joy of loving or being loved. You won’t get anything in return, and will just be discarded alongside the other rotting pile of corpses──」

Lucika stopped here── and looked at the white half moon shining behind the girl.

「No one ordered me to do so. I followed my own heart, and supported the only person I admired with everything I had… Even though my love didn’t bear any fruits, even though I never confessed the feelings in my heart, the woman named Lucika did exist in this world.
This is the only irrefutable fact. Because as I lay here dying, I found from this feeling of mine── the reason that I am who I am.」

This declaration was the last ripple that Lucika Kursk sent to the outside world. After that── her eyes stopped reflecting the light of the real world.

「… Will he be fine…? If I’m gone… He is so frail, but so strict on himself… When he is in pain… can he seek help from his comrades… and let his wife spoil him…?
Ahhh── and the children… Sarihas, Sushu, Toruru… They all bear… their own troubles…」

Her voice turned hoarse as her eyes slowly closed. As her mind fade into darkness, the woman cherished every scene flashing across her mind.

「… Fufu… my only regret… is that… if I gave birth to them… I would probably… be… more──」

She never got to finish her sentence.

「Lieutenant Colonel──!」

Badump… after one last strong beat, the woman’s heart stopped forever. Yatori could feel clearly through the saber that a life had faded away.


The vermillion haired girl pulled out her saber. She didn’t even sheath her blade, and just stood there stiffly.

She couldn’t even morn. She was not allowed to do so, Lucika Kursk had reached the end of her life splendidly and passed on. She bet her pride and refused to compromise. She refuted, hated and insulted Yatori── she left her sympathies one sidedly, and stepped off the stage without giving the girl any chance for rebuttal.

Yatorishino Igsem was at a loss as she looked at the corpse that she was forbidden from reaching out to. For a long time, the girl stood there with no way to vent her emotions──

When they got the report that the mission had been accomplished, Ikuta, Haro and Princess Chamille came to a bare village located deep within the woods.

Straw buildings were built erratically, and villagers with gloomy eyes wandered around like spirits. Those who could walk were still fine, but there were some staring into blank space as they squatted or laid on the ground. All of them had signs of illness, and this scene made it obvious what kind of place this was.

「We are finally here. Really now, I was getting impatient.」

When the three of them stepped into the village, the pudgey youth immediately came to welcome them. Similar to Ikuta’s group, his mouth and nose were covered with a mask. Ikuta ordered everyone to wear mask when he received report about this place, but the soldiers on scene already put masks on without even being asked.

「It’s been a while, Matthew-san! I’m relieved that you are wearing your mask.」

「Glad to see you again, my dear Matthew. It seems you ran into a lot of trouble.」

「I have a lot to say, but let’s leave that to later. Let’s hurry. I feel bad for the residents, but this isn’t a place I want to stay around for long.」

Matthew turned and walked off right after saying that, leading the way. Ikuta clarified some details as he followed.

「I didn’t expect to reach first, what a surprise. Didn’t you ran into opposition from the other factions?」

「We finally formed an alliance with the Remeon faction. The other two factions had not reach yet. This is a suitable place for defence, and they will need a lot of men to take this place by force… Sigh, I actually wanted to hold this place together with the Remeon faction, but they ditched us for some reason. Word on the vines is that the Remeon faction ran into some issues with their headquarters.」

「Maybe something happened. I’m curious, but…」

Before he used his imagination to explore the possibilities, the Princess shook her head. They needed to focus on the task at hand.

As they exchange reports, the group head deep into the village under the watchful eyes of the residents. Shortly after, they reached the biggest building that was half buried in the ground. Not only was the building method unique, it was a queer place without a single window.

A large number of guards were posted around the building, and a tall slender youth walked out from inside.

「Ik-kun, you are here! Haro-san and the Princess too!」

Torway smiled brightly and shared in the joy of reuniting with his companions. Ikuta frowned at the sight of him, and flicked his forehead after walking up to him.

「That hurts! What are you doing, Ik-kun?」

「… I don’t really get it either. Your demeanor seems to be saying 『look, I’m a new man now』, which infuriates me for some reason…」

「What are you talking about… Torway is the same as usual.」

Princess Chamille said with an incredulous look. Haro beside her laughed softly.

「Including how unreasonably harsh Ikutasan treats Torwaysan, everything is the same as usual! I’m relieved!」

Her energetic and casual voice made the atmosphere cheerful. Everyone tried to keep Yatori’s absence out of their minds. Soothed by Haro’s chirpy attitude, the members of the Knight Order turned their gaze towards the building before them.

「… My dear Matthew. Are they in there?」

「Yes, they are. This building seem to be problematic in the past, I gathered the wind sprites to ventilate it thoroughly. I thought about changing the location, but the other party doesn’t intend to comply. He seemed reluctant to speak with us, and is probably only interested in the commander-in-chief.」

Nodding in agreement with Matthew, Ikuta asked the others to wait for him here, then walked towards the windowless structure that had only one door with four escorts… Of the four asked to stay behind, only Princess Chamille followed him nonchalantly.

「Wait, Princess. Didn’t I ask you to say?」

「I refuse. Since the opponent is that man, it will be better for me to be there.」

「I’m not saying that you are unreliable… It’s just that my relationship with the enemy this time is a little complicated.」

「Complicated huh… it’s unpleasant, but I can guess why… and speaking of personal reasons, I have the upper hand. After all, in there── even though I don’t want to acknowledge it── is my biological father.」

When he heard this logical rebuttal, the youth gave up on convincing her. To be honest, he thought things would turn out this way. The girl who was always lamenting about her helplessness would not relent on her duties.

「… I understand. Let’s go then. Here.」

The youth offered his right hand to her. Princess Chamille shirked away momentarily before taking it with her left hand. When the palm that was two sizes larger than hers tightened its grip, something deep in the Princess’ chest pounded painfully.

「When we are in there, do not leave my side. That’s my condition for bringing you in.」

「… Yes, I understand.」

To conceal what she was thinking, the girl nodded quietly in a pretense of calm. The four soldiers in front of them pushed open the double doors. The chain grinding against the sand in the gap made screeching noises, and after enduring for about ten seconds, an entrance that resembled the dark gates of hell appeared before then.

「Kusu, can you shine a Lantern light?」「Okay, Ikuta.」

Ikuta took out Kusu from his pouch with his left hand, and the 「light hole」 on the sprite’s torso illuminated the area around the two of them. After the four soldiers went down, the youth followed after them with the Princess in tow. The steep stairs extend downwards, and the youth walked down cautiously, careful to not let his petite companion fall.


After less than ten steps, they entered a dim space. It was about 10 m in length, and twice that in width, and the ceiling was unexpectedly tall. The four light sprites brought by the soldiers illuminated the interior, and a few wind sprites left inside continued to ventilate the room.

「Oh─ You are finally here?」

At the end of the room laid with moist earthen ground, a figure yelped with obvious elation. Ikuta and Princess Chamille looked over at the same time.

They could see a body covered in bandages lying on a makeshift bed. It was hard to differentiate it from a corpse, but on closer inspection, he could see a shallow breath between the bandages. Those who didn’t know would never believe that this was the reigning Emperor.

A man kneeling with reverence on the ground attended to the bandaged man. The smooth textile of his robes that represented his post of a chancellor felt like corpse wax in the dark.

「As you can see, we are here. It is hard to ignore such a warm invitation.」

The youth answered simply, and he suddenly thought── the Jewel Voice Broadcast mentioned the whereabouts of the Emperor, so if we diciper it literally, then this is 「a place that befits its 900 odd years of history」?

And what irked Ikuta was that this ironic description fits just fine. A secluded village where hopeless patients were gathered. The despair here was much more absolute than anywhere else, given how there was no future here. This existence made him remember the Eternal sprite Tree that was rotten in the roots, and just waiting for the moment it falls──

「… If possible, I hope I won’t ever need to speak with you.」

「How can you say that!? I was looking forward to the day that we meet!」

「I know, you have not played enough yet. When you were just getting into it, my dad left.」

As he spoke, the youth felt the emotions draining from his heart. This was his instinct in self defence, as he would go mad if he faced this fox with a sane mind. He knew very well the tragic outcome of the people who had been toyed with by this fox.


Ikuta gripped the Princess’ trembling hand and strode forth. He was about eight strides from the fox. Close enough to see each other’s faces, but too far to strangle him.

「This is so revolting that it gives me anemia, but this is also some sort of fate. I will play with you then, Trisnai.
──Well then, let’s hear it. In this vulgar comedy, what role do you want me to play?」

He declared war from that distance, as if he was charging in to cut his enemy down. The fox’s unfathomable smile deepened, as if this was the best news he had heard in a millenia.

End of Volume 6

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