Chapter 4 – Under the Tainted Throne
The battlefield was silent for a moment as Ain made his high-profile declaration.
After a short pause, however, the most tumultuous scene of the day was revealed. The battlefield was filled with cheers in some places and… sad voices in others as if to lament the loss of Logas.
Dill stepped close by, leading Ain’s horse.
When Dill saw Ain, who looked more tired than he used to, he gasped for breath and rushed to his side in a panic. He was aware of his lord’s state of mind and showed some hesitation as to what to do…
“Now, Ain-sama. Let’s go.”
He took his hand tightly and took him under the horse without waiting for a reply.
“Ah, wait… Dill! I can walk by myself!”
While being stunned by Dill’s behavior, Ain continued to move forward as Dill pulled him along. He was so stunned by Dill’s behavior that he kept on going as Dill pulled him along.
“What’s going on all of a sudden?”
“…..The decision with the red fox has not been made yet, sir.”
Dill’s words encouraged Ain, whose mind was beginning to waver.
“Majolica-dono invaded the capital with the knights ahead of us. The soldiers of Heim are shocked by the loss of General Logas, so let’s decide the battle at once.”
Besides, even before the battle with Logas, the situation of the war had developed greatly in favor of the Ishtalika side.
The soldiers of Heim were not only fleeing to the capital, but some were even running away in the opposite direction.
After all, the miasma released by the first prince Layfon on the battlefield must have had an effect.
They were so different from those soldiers who had turned into dead soldiers and lost their humanity.
At this point, there was only one more stronghold left in Heim.
“We must invade the royal capital of Heim and take the royal castle.”
“Yes, I know.”
After advancing his horse a few steps, Ain pointed his black sword at the castle. On the ground nearby, Logas was still lying, but he could not turn around due to his negative feelings of disgust and guilt.
Just seeing him again was likely to cause a new lump to form in his heart.
“Let’s go. This is really the last battle!”
It was not long after that the army of Ishtalika began to march after Ain.
◇ ◇ ◇
Ain had only been to the royal capital of Heim once before. However, that one time left a strong impression on him.
The scenery of the royal capital, which had seemed spectacular at the time, now looked disastrous because it had been turned into a battlefield.
The main streets that he would have passed by on his carriage and the streets that thrilled him that day are all different from what they used to be. The first thing Ain sensed was the smell of blood and burning buildings.
“Your Highness! Are you all right?”
Majolica came to Ain’s side, having heard of the arrival of the army led by Ain.
“Oh, it’s Majolica-san!”
“What is it with you? Everyone was worried about you!”
Majolica, who had been working separately, joined him, and he put his strong hands between Ain’s cheeks.
When he confirmed that there were no injuries, he sighed tremendously.
“So it’s settled, then?”
“…Yeah. I managed to get it done.”
Majolica nodded with a complicated look toward Ain, who smiled bitterly.
Then, Majolica spoke to Ain with a look of relief.
“I think the marshal is on his way here, too. He should be arriving any minute.”
The fact that Lloyd was on his way probably meant that he had won over Edward. Thinking this, Ain was relieved and stroked his chest.
It was good that it was Lloyd who was coming toward here, but it bothered him that Chris’ and Lily’s names had not been mentioned.
“How about Chris?”
“──I’m sorry. I don’t know. I just didn’t see her, so maybe she’s not with him.”
“Ain-sama! It doesn’t necessarily mean that Chris-sama had fallen! Let’s settle this in the royal capital as soon as possible so that we can find out the truth!”
Dill shook Ain’s stunned shoulder.
Then Ain quickly regained his composure and apologized shortly. Being worried here won’t make anything better.
He slapped his cheeks hard with both hands and dug his nails into his clenched fists with all his strength, fooling his emotions with the pain.
After looking around the castle town, Ain realized something at this point.
(Are there only a few people to command?)
In case of emergencies, a royal knight could take command, and for that matter, there were even those who deserve to be troop commanders and generals in the army of Ishtalika.
Even so, more was better.
Dill said to Ain, who was deep in thought.
“I will lead the knights from the castle town. Ain-sama, please go with Majolica-dono to the royal castle first.”
“Ara, are you going to leave such a big role to me?”
“I am better suited to command the knights here. In addition, I think the knights will be more likely to listen to my commands.”
When Dill finished, he bent down in front of Ain.
“Please allow me to leave your side for a few moments. …I will join you as soon as everything is settled down here.”
“I understand. Then, I’ll decide on the game before Dill arrives.”
“Haha, that’s good. Then I will make way for Ain-sama’s return.”
They nodded at each other with a smile, and Ain turned his horse around. However, just as he was about to ride his horse to the royal castle, he remembered something.
“Majolica-san. Can I have another magic stone? I’m really hungry.”
“Ara ara, you’re such a glutton. Your Highness.”
With a wry smile, Majolica handed a bag containing a new magic stone from his pocket to Ain. After receiving it, Ain immediately put it in his palm and absorbed it.
When he was done, he ran his horse with a satisfied look on his face.
◇ ◇ ◇
Meanwhile, Dill, who remained behind, was busy deploying the crossbow and dealing with the soldiers of Heim who were attacking in the town.
Then a new ally arrived from the city gates.
“Is that… could that be…?”
Dill looked toward the gate.
“Father! You have finally arrived!”
The army of Ishtalika, led by Lloyd, was in full view.
Dill, who was standing at the front of the group here, waved his hand to the group’s leader there, but at the same time, he noticed his father’s new injury and furrowed his brow.
“Guard Dill. I have received information about the Augusto family.”
As Dill waited for Lloyd, a royal knight stepped up to him.
“The Augusto family… Archduke Augusto?”
“Yes, sir. The soldiers of Heim have sealed off the residence of Archduke Augusto. We believe the family members are under house arrest inside.”
“Then let’s start rescuing them. Take some royal knights and head for Archduke Augusto’s mansion. I will inform the Lord Marshal of the situation.”
“This will not cause Lady Krone any grief… and I will share the information with my father──.”
Just as he was about to close the distance between himself and his father, who was getting closer and closer.
“Found it. Found, found, found, found it!”
Suddenly, three robed figures descended from the roof.
An eerie voice, too faint to even distinguish between male and female, was heard from behind, and Dill, turning around, saw the three figures with rusty swords ready to attack him all at once.
…..The skin around their mouths, peeking out from faces hidden by the hoods, was bluish purple.
“Found it, found it, found it!”
Dill drew his sword and effortlessly intercepted the three attackers, but the creepy tone of their voices made his hair stand on end.
Luckily, the three could not be considered strong.
“Ah, Ouch, ouch, ouch!”
“My leg…! My leg…!”
The first one was slashed in the cheek and sprawled excessively.
The other one had both of his legs cut off by Dill, but he crawled away and started to happily hug and lovingly stroke both of his severed legs.
Dill turned his sword-fighting without restraint in front of the bottomless pit of goosebumps all over his body.
“I found it. Found it. I have sighted it.”
He cut down the last one, and here the trio finally died out.
What the hell was going on?
He wondered if these were the same people he had just met and approached to take their hoods off.
From far away, he heard his father calling him. The devilish voice came not only from him but also from the royal knight who was nearby at some point.
Why were they in such a hurry?
At this time, Dill really didn’t notice anything.
──He was just looking at the figure of Grint, who had appeared behind him before he knew it and was drawing his sword.
“You’re the only one I’ve decided I’m going to thrust my sword at like this.”
A warm, iron-smelling liquid flows back down Dill’s throat.
Unsure of what had happened, Dill turned his attention to the rapidly heating spot. Then, from the middle of his well-developed abdominal muscles, a glowing sword, along with Dill’s blood, appeared.
“I-I was… attacked… with a sword…?”
Dill began to lose strength from his knees but was kicked hard from behind, hitting his entire body on the ground.
A stream of crimson blood soaked the cobblestone pavement.
The blood flowed unstoppably even when he put his hand on the ground.
“Now it’s that man….. I will put my sword through him and the one who killed my father.”
Lying in front of the sight of a spitting Grint riding his horse, Dill muttered weakly as he stretched out his arms helplessly.
The knight of Ishtalika, who had come by, was lightly brushed off, and Grint walked away quickly.
As Lloyd rushed on his horse, he called out the name in a voice that almost sounded like a scream. The scent of flowing blood was equally present on any battlefield.
But now, the scent is centered on Dill. This made his father, Lloyd, want to tear his nose in discomfort.
Dill’s head was moved to Lloyd’s lap, and bright red blood leaked from his mouth as he breathed in anguish.
Then, at that moment.
“What’s going on?”
Varra, who heard the commotion, shouted from a short distance away. She noticed that Lloyd was kneeling in a place surrounded by royal knights, and she rushed toward him, her white robe billowing in the air.
Varra rolled up her white coat sleeves and checked the affected area of Dill, who had lost consciousness.
She took his armor, undressed him, looked at the wound where he had been stabbed by Grint, and then shifted her gaze to Lloyd with a grave expression.
“Va… Varra. Is everything alright? You can handle Dill, can’t you?”
She did not reply to Lloyd but took a glass container out of her pocket and sprinkled the liquid over Dill’s wound.
She then took out a syringe and injected it into his neck.
Before long, Dill’s breathing calmed down, and he quickly let go of his consciousness.
“This is about all I can do here.”
Varra gave him a mysterious look.
“…This is as close to life-prolonging treatment. If we hurry to move him to the battleship and treat him back home, maybe he will survive.”
In other words, the situation is that urgent.
But Lloyd, who knew that the worst was averted right here and now, held Varra’s hand and thanked her.
“Your Excellency the Marshal! Varra-dono! There is an abandoned carriage!”
Lloyd is taken aback by the words of the royal knight.
“Now! Hurry up and bring Guard Dill!”
“I will accompany him! Your Excellency the Marshal, bring Guard Dill to the carriage as quickly as possible!”
Lloyd thanked her with tears in his eyes. He worked with the royal knights to get the seriously wounded Dill onto the carriage and then drove off with several of the royal knights as escorts.
Lloyd was about to look for Edward when he heard a voice saying.
“Lloyd-sama. I have one matter to discuss with you.”
A royal knight asked him.
“What is it?”
“I have informed Guard Dill that Lady Krone’s family is under house arrest at Archduke Augusto’s mansion. We were directed by Guard Dill to rescue them, but we are having a hard time because of the large number of enemy soldiers.”
“Thank you for your report. I understand the situation.”
Lloyd asked before turning to head for Archduke Augusto’s residence.
“What happened to Ain-sama? Has he already left for the royal castle?”
“Yes! It seems he is on his way!”
“If so, I’m going to go to Ain-sama’s… no, but…”
The reason for the hesitation was that Ain would be very sad if something happened at Archduke Augusto’s mansion.
But Lloyd’s lord was Sylvird, who was none other than the head of the royal family of Ishtalika.
He was about to say that he would head for the royal castle when he felt a tug on his back.
“Your Excellency the Marshal! The soldiers of Heim are gathering at Archduke Augusto’s mansion!”
Hearing this new message, Lloyd made up his mind.
He recalled the words he had exchanged with Ain before the war started and reconfirmed what he had to do.
“We will rescue the Augusto family in a hurry! Let’s get this done in an instant!”
He thought about what he could do, being unable to use one arm, and made a difficult decision.
He doesn’t want to talk about it, but in the current situation, just taking on a few royal knights was tough, and he didn’t think he could be much of a force to be reckoned with.
Therefore, he decided to ride his horse to Archduke Augusto’s mansion, as he thought it would be the best thing for Ain here.