Chapter 245 – Damage Report
Holy Kingdom’s POV
“Ridiculous! That’s impossible!”
I shouted when I heard the information from my subordinate. Hearing that shout, my subordinate’s shoulders trembled with fear. Seeing this, I closed my eyes and began to calm my raging heart by reciting scriptures in my mind. Normally, the stormy waves of my heart would subside quickly, but this time they were not subsiding.
It was only natural. The 20,000 holy soldiers dispatched to eliminate the bandits running rampant in a remote land were annihilated in the first battle, with the leading generals either killed or captured by the bandits, and the subjugation forces fled back to the Holy Kingdom. When I first heard this story, I thought it was a joke, but no matter how many times I asked my subordinates about it, they said it was the truth.
“So it’s the truth, huh?”
“Y-yes… I received this information directly from the survivors of the subjugation army that reached Gilgis.”
“This is unbelievable…”
At first, I thought that 10,000 troops would be enough to eliminate the bandits, and I had made arrangements accordingly. However, I decided to double that number to 20,000, just to be sure.
I knew that the bandits called themselves the Liberation Army and that thousands of Holy Kingdom soldiers stationed in the Merinard Kingdom had already suffered losses―although the incompetent pigs in the area were trying to suppress the information.
At the same time, I knew that the leader of the bandits calling themselves the Liberation Army was a black elf called the Witch of the Black Forest and that the person at the core of the Liberation Army was a remnant of the rebellion that took place three years ago in the Merinard Kingdom.
I also made some calculations of their strength, using my contacts in the military to get advice. The size of the enemy was probably between 1,000 to 3,000 at the most, and they would not be able to support more than that regardless of how much they tried. Soldiers basically produce nothing. Depending on how they are used, it is not impossible to expect some economic benefits from improved security and the procurement of meat from subjugating monsters, but these benefits will never exceed the maintenance cost.
The military believed, and it was common knowledge, that the bandits would be able to cover their costs to some extent by procuring funds and food from the towns and villages they occupied, but even so, they would only be able to maintain 1,000 to 3,000 people.
Such people were basically low-skilled, and their equipment was second-class, looted from the villages and towns they had attacked. Therefore, 10,000 of the elite of the regular army would be enough to eliminate them. It was supposed to be that way.
“How about the survivors…?”
“About 7,000 or less have reached Gilgis. These are generally healthy soldiers who arrived earlier, which is about half of the total number. There are about the same number of wounded and those who are tending to them, and they are expected to arrive one after another.”
“…How many died?”
“Approximately less than 4,000. They were killed by an unidentified explosion, an attack by the Harpies using an explosive magic tool, and an unidentified attack by a mysterious vehicle that moves without a horse.”
“I can still understand the explosive magic tool that Harpy used, but… what are these unidentified explosions and unidentified attacks?”
I asked my subordinate.
I could still understand the magic tool for explosions. It is outrageous to prepare a large number of disposable magic tools for attacks. Considering the cost of production and raw materials, it is no longer at the level of impossibility. But what does it mean that the identity of the attack is unknown?
“Even the soldiers who were standing on the scene were not sure of the true identity of the attack… They said they heard a sound like a violent thunderclap or the rattle of a killer bee’s wings, or something that flew at an alarming speed; then, an explosion occurred without any notice. The testimonies are all so varied that we can’t really be sure. I think it was some kind of new weapon.”
“What kind of damage was done?”
“The conclusion seemed to be that the unidentified explosion was not similar to the explosive magic tool that the Harpies were using. However, they had no idea where or how it was thrown from. The weapon, which emitted a thunderous noise like a thunderclap or the buzzing of a killer bee’s wings, was mounted on a wheel-less chariot-like vehicle, and when it seemed to erupt with a violent noise, the soldiers in the vanguard fell to the ground like ears of wheat being reaped. It was said to have pierced metal shields, shattered armor, pierced the bodies of soldiers, and even killed and wounded those standing behind them… There was also talk that it might have been a large number of metal arrowheads flying at an invisible speed, but this has not been confirmed.”
I was puzzled by the report of my subordinate. From what I’ve heard, no matter how you look at it, it’s not something on the level of banditry or anything like that. What they have in the Kingdom of Merinard is something worse than the most elite troops of the Imperial Army deployed in the Great Plains of Amagara.
“Just for the record, how many thousand were the enemy…?”
“According to the story, the only thing on the front lines, aside from the flying harpies, were the strange vehicles that reamed out the soldiers. That is to say… there were less than a hundred of them.”
I looked up at the ceiling.
What is that? What are we dealing with?
“We need to find out what’s happening… You said the bandits were accompanied by the nostalgic Deckard, right?”
“Yes, it seemed that way, but…”
“Send word that I am to meet with Cardinal Dalton.”
Hearing my instructions, my subordinate hurriedly exits the room.
Dalton is the leader of the nostalgic faction. Recently, he has been losing power rapidly because he has taken his treasured saint away from his hands. It is also known that he had sent the saint to the kingdom of Merinard a long time ago. Since it is said that she was staying in Merinesburg, the Liberation Army probably already has her in their custody. Worst of all, she may have been caught up in the battle and died.
Deckard’s movements are also mysterious. Why did he go to the Merinard Kingdom at that time, and why was he working with the Liberation Army? The power of the nostalgic faction is rapidly disappearing within the Holy Kingdom. There is even a movement in some quarters to put them under inquisition as heretics. I, too, am in a position of tacit approval and non-interference, but…
“What in the world is he up to…? What is he hiding?”
No one answers my quiet mutterings. Still, I couldn’t help but mutter.
Three days had passed since the meeting.
It was officially decided that Kirilovich and his diplomatic delegation from the Empire would be accepted, and a nobleman’s mansion near the royal castle in Merinesburg would be used as the Empire’s embassy. With this decision, the mansion was to undergo renovations and improvements, and I was to be a part of the work.
Well, my participation in the work was basically limited to carrying materials, some demolition work, and adding and reconstructing a fence to strengthen security. I’m not really suited for detailed interior work. Not that I can’t do it, though. Not that I can’t do it!
I’m a fan of practicality and tofu houses, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like elaborate architecture. I think that really elaborate architecture is in the realm of art. But I am a tofu house person. It’s not that I’m indulging in tofu houses because I have no taste or anything like that… Kuh, I can’t fool myself.”
It’s fine. It’s just that no matter how hard I try, it’s just going to be a complicated, bizarre piece of modern art. I’m just going to master the practical side of things… and leave those things to those who have a sense of style. Don’t worry; if I pursue the limits of practicality, I can reach the level of an art form. For example, a practical axe or a weapon that specializes in killing people can be beautiful and cool without any unnecessary decoration. So I’m going to explore that direction. Yeah.
And, well, after I finished my work, I was mowing the unkempt and overgrown garden.
I was confronted by a suspicious figure in the back of the mansion, his entire body covered by a robe and his face hidden by a hood that was also covering his eyes. I couldn’t see his expression, but it was obvious that he was wary of me. I, on the other hand, was on the lookout with my recently made mithril sickle +9 in my hand.
The robed bastard became blatantly shaken when I slowly took a clipper out of my inventory and showed it off. I started the clipper, and when it sounded, he started trembling slightly. You can probably tell by this reaction.
“…What are you doing here?”
The robed bastard just trembled and didn’t say anything. It seems that he’s really distressed.
“Ah… aren’t your winter coats or something gonna grow back?”
“They cut off my winter coat…”
“Uh, then summer coat…?”
“It’s in early spring…”
“…Good luck with that.”
Now it’s pre-winter. Another half month from now, it will be like winter is coming, and then winter for about a month or two, less than six months until spring, but still, more than three months to go. So the robed bastard in front of me―Qubi―is going to have to stay in a state of having all of his furs cut off for the rest of the year.
“So, what brings you to this place?”
“…There will be a craftsman here to furnish the interior.”
“Oh, I see. Do you mean you don’t want me to see it…? Well, I’ll go after I finish mowing the grass, so don’t worry about it.”
Qubi didn’t respond to anything I said and seemed to have decided to stay in a corner, out of sight. Eh? Acting alone and making contact with Qubi, or rather, visiting the Empire’s embassy, was a bit careless, you say? Don’t worry, don’t worry. Look, there’s Harpy-san on the roof. And there’s one in the tree over there, too. And another one is circling in the sky. We have a surveillance system in place. Hahaha.