Bashir looked straight at Mari and answered.
“When the war started, I was opposed to you going out onto the battlefield, Your Majesty. But to save my own neck, I couldn’t say anything. When I heard that Your Majesty had been shot, I was overwhelmed by my own crime. Saving my own skin and losing my master…… I don’t want to feel such despair again.”
When Mari thought that the Queen did, indeed, go out to war for her own purposes, her head hurt.
“…… I’m sorry.”
Bashir panicked when Mari moaned her apology.
“Your Majesty! We’re the ones who should be apologising. We couldn’t protect you and brought harm to your precious body.”
She spoke vehemently, interrupting his words. No matter how you thought about it, the Queen was the one in the wrong.
“And accept the apology. For now ーー and the future.”
Mari completely changed. She laughed wickedly while speaking.
“I cannot, Your Majesty!”
“Stand on the frontlines and recommend someone to protect me!”
Mari quietly declared. Everyone around her, including Bashir, was surprised.
“Your Majesty! It’s dangerous!”
“I know. …… I have to create an opportunity for Darius.”
She spoke so that everyone could hear the first part, but the second part was only for Bashir’s ears.
“…… Your Majesty.”
“I won’t be brought down. If I am, then we lose everything. That’s why I asked you to recommend someone to protect me.”
Bashir didn’t nod at Mari’s words.
“It is necessary to have a decoy. The enemy will know that we are going to attack them with the human wave. There’s also a high possibility that they would think we were setting traps for them in between the attacks. It’s also possible for them to retreat once. Moreover, I have to stay on the battlefield without running away. Can anyone else be bait besides me? …… If I stay on the battlefield then they’ll take the bait. No matter how dangerous it is.”
Mari expressed with conviction.
…… She wringed out a painful voice thinking about the sparkling blonde hair and blue eyes that were glued to her.
“Give me the solider recommendation.”
Bashir bit his lips at the pile of lives.
“…… Can you protect Her Majesty with your life?”
“Of course, there’s no need for fools who will die as shields. What should I do after he dies? I want you to recommend someone who could protect me until the very end.”
He smiled bitterly in return to Mari’s words.
“If Major General Darius was here then it would be possible.”
“Don’t be stupid. He’d abandon me if things get dangerous and save himself at any cost. To begin with, I entrusted him with the detached force.”
Mari immediately refused Bashir. While speaking, she was a little surprised that Darius was a Major General. She felt as if he was a little higher than a mercenary but he probably snatched the position with his ability.
Bashir felt complexed at the Queen’s evaluation of Darius. He worried for a while and brought up the names of two people.
“Then, how about Major General Leonir and Captain Holg?”
Leonir was also a name she’d heard from Darius. She’d heard that he was good at tactics but it seemed that he was strong as well. It was the first time she’d ever heard the name Holg. Their images didn’t pop up in her mind even when she’d heard their names. The same thing happened with Bashir. The Queen was not concerned about these three.
(She was a poor judge of character, wasn’t she? …… Moreover, she caused a rebellion.)
Mari shook her head as if to shake off the endless depressing thoughts. She would contemplate on it afterwards.
She straightened her back and said in a cold voice.
“The current Generals are free from their duties. Lieutenant General Bashir will take over as General. From now on, General Bashir will have full authority over military tactics! All troops will be put under his command! Major General Leonir and Captain Holg, come here! Go!”
Bashir blushed at Mari’s words and replied before leaving on a knight beast.
On the other hand, the surrounding men wearing flashy decorations, glanced at Mari in dissatisfaction.
However when Mari glared at them in oppression, they all became flustered and followed after Bashir.
(She’s really not a good judge of character.)
Mari waited for the two soldiers heading towards her while sighing because she could only find favourable materials.
Afterwards unpleasant sweat ran down her back as she stood in the frontline feeling desperate. She forcibly stopped her body from trembling while resisting the nausea that was threatening to spill out.
This was a real battlefield.
(…… However it was just a dream.)
However she could feel things that she could hardly believe could happen in a dream.
Whatever she might say, the smell was horrible. The metallic smell of blood and beast meat.
It was something that she couldn’t know just from watching TV or movies. Real fear was close.
Speaking of the frontline, Mari was of course, not standing at the very front of the line. With the formation of her army, the arrows of the enemy barely reached her. Bashir didn’t allow her to go any closer.
Still even when she looked around, she could see people who have been badly injured scattered about.
There were no dead bodies or severely injured people. They would become a hindrance to the battle so it would be better if they immediately took the people away from the battlefield. It would probably be better for them to reorganise the situation and leave room for attack. In a losing battle, those who couldn’t move were left there.
The battlefield was overflowing with a thirst for blood, screams and angry voices. The commander on Mari’s right fell down to the ground as the enemy’s arrow pierced through his abdomen. He screamed and writhed.
…… Mari regretted going out into the frontlines after a few minutes.
(Why am I in a place like this?)
It wasn’t a scene she could endure even if the reason was, “It’s just a dream”. Despite that Mari didn’t run away because it was impossible to overlook Bashir’s spirit. And she also couldn’t leave the soldiers to fight to protect someone like her when she was the main cause of this war.
(You absolutely can’t run away!)
The two knights protecting Mari tightly grasped her trembling hands.
In front of her on her left was Major General Leonir and on her right, Captain Holg.
Leonir was a tall young man with bright brown hair and green eyes. He looked to be around the same age as Darius. He had a good-looking appearance different from Darius’s showy one. He had a more composed and kind aura.
No matter how you looked at it, Holg looked like a 14 or 15 year old boy. He had a cute appearance with his fluffy blonde hair and chestnut brown eyes. His round face was flushed and he had greeted her with a soprano voice. He was embarrassed when he saw Mari’s torn up dress and presented his cloak to her. He was a kind and attentive child.
Mari felt uneasy when she first saw their good appearance. But because of Bashir’s recommendation, they were remarkable soldiers. They perfectly knocked down the arrows aimed at Mari without pause.
Mari openly admired their skill and calmed down a little.
“What’s the battle situation?”
Mari asked briefly, concealing her trembling voice.
“Our army is pressing through but the enemy isn’t going to break that easily.”
Leonir said in a calm voice.
“No matter how you look at it, they have no chance of winning so they’re desperate.”
Holg’s voice also showed no impatience. The two calmly defended against the enemy’s attack while talking. That composure unravelled Mari’s tension.
“Advise them to surrender or we will keep attack. The treatment of the prisoners will be guaranteed. If they agree to hold discussions then relay it back.”
Mari was able to finish talking without trembling. A nearby soldier ran off to report to Bashir.
“You are kind, Your Majesty.”
Holg glanced and grinned happily.
(…… Was that kind?)
Mari thought bitterly. A kind person wouldn’t fight. Mari’s heart was becoming increasingly heavy as she saw people collapsing and dying one by one.
The conclusion of the battle happened soon after.
An army led by Darius snuck up on the enemy from behind and captured their commander. Darius leisurely pushed his way through the enemy army, who was in chaos after losing their commander.
“I caught Margrave Mydal!”
Their allies shouted in joy at the voice of Darius and his party while the enemy army roared in anger.
(…… Margrave Mydal)
On the back of Darius’s knight beast, who was approaching Mari, was a man tied up by a rope. The sun shone on the man’s blonde hair and it sparkled.
Mari’s heart throbbed for some reason when she saw that.
She called in a quiet voice and Alware, who had Mari on his back, roared.
That seemed to be the name of the enemy commander.
Like before, the other knight beasts ——— even the enemy ones, neighed in return and lowered their heads.
Alware held enough power to be king to the knight beasts. The other knight beasts submitted to him because he held the most power in the beast world. That didn’t change even with the enemy knight beasts. Looking at that one point, the battle this time was extremely unfavourable for the enemy. Moreover there was a great difference in war potential.
If the Queen hadn’t came out onto the battlefield wearing a conspicuous crimson dress then surely the rebellion would have been suppressed by the Queen’s army. Then the Queen wouldn’t have been attacked by the Rebel Army.
Nevertheless, Mari’s heart was in agony when she thought that there was a reason for their rebellion.
“The outcome is clear! Surrender. I will guarantee your treatment.”
Mari plucked up and her cold voice resounded throughout the battlefield.
Woo ~! Her own army cheered joyfully.
The Rebel Army was dumbfounded and feebly dropped their weapons. However, there were still some who were glaring and opposing the Queen.
Bare hostility was being thrown at Mari.
(…… What the heck did the Queen do to be so hated?)
But those people were immediately seized by her army. They violently immobilised those people and there were some knights who were mercilessly beating the men. Mari shouted.
“Don’t mistreat the prisoners!”
The knights turned to face Mari as if they were surprised. They weren’t alone. Both her enemy and allies were amazed.
She had only said something natural and was dubious at their reaction to her. She continued speaking.
“Prisoners must be treated in a humane way. Acts of violence, threats, insults and interrogations ーー are all prohibited. I won’t permit you to cause them to suffer neither physically nor mentally. Revenge and torture is also prohibited. Looting is of course, also prohibited. Treat the injured and let them rest. Respect them as humans and treat them equally.”
When was it? Mari earnestly recalled the things about human rights she’d learned at school and match those words.
Many people were taken aback and stared at her. Someone shouted the instant the battlefield was silent.
“Liar! You demon.”
“I won’t be deceived!”
Mari once again received harsh words from the enemy soldiers, who she was protecting.
“You think I can believe your sweet-talk?! If those are your true feelings then why did my son have to starve to death?”
“My parents too! The people starved to death without even being able to eat vegetables scraps all because you lived a luxurious life in your castle.”
“My daughter was taken away because I couldn’t pay tax……”
“My wife had her leg cut off just because she kicked a stone at the castle and she died because of it.”
She heard stories that made her want to block her ears one after another.
Mari was stunned.
(…… That’s horrible. The Queen…… Did she do it herself?)
It’s no wonder a rebellion happened or that she’d been stabbed.
(Perhaps I should have died?)
A knight once again raised his arm as if to strike the enemy.
“Stop! Ill-treatment is prohibited. How many times must I say that?!”
Mari promptly controlled the situation.
Nevertheless, the knight stared at Mari without dropping his hand.
“As I said earlier, you will treat the prisoners with respect. No matter what happens, I won’t withdraw this order.”
The knight reluctantly lowered his hand at Mari’s quiet words.
Her surrounding was dead silent.
What broke the silence caused by the people’s confusion was the blonde man riding on Darius’s knight beast ーー Margrave Mydal.
“What kind of farce is this? Your Majesty the Queen.”
His blue eyes filled with distain was watching Mari.
“I appealed the plight of the people to you a few days ago, but you took no notice of it. You wouldn’t listen to me no matter how much I pleaded. You whipped and drove me out of the castle because I spoke such nonsense at teatime. Please stop with this boring play.”
The blue eyes staring at her as if clinging to her called her back.
(Why didn’t I notice his despair?)
Jammed by those words, Mari felt her arms and legs freeze.
Darius’s fists obstructed the blues eyes that were glaring at her as if it could pierce her. The mercenary mercilessly beat up the tied up Margrave Mydal and kicked him off the knight beast.
“Darius! Ill-treatment of prisoners is……”
“This isn’t ill-treatment ~!”
Darius denied Mari’s restraint.
“I’m just hitting a man who made a woman cry.”
Everyone was flabbergasted at Darius’s resentful words.
“…… Made a woman cry?”
Margrave Mydal, who was hit, was stunned. He repeated Darius’s words and glanced at Mari.
He saw a pale Queen and trickle of tears running down her face.
Mari panicked and blinked. Another grain of tear fell down from her eyes.
(…… Wow. I’m the worst……)
Mari rubbed her cheeks.
Bashir, who had approached her unnoticed, called out to her in a quiet voice and she was relieved.
“The preparations for returning to the castle are complete.”
Darius also approached her and took Alware’s bit.
“Let’s go home. It’s a triumphant return.”
(…… A triumphant return. Such a horrible triumph didn’t exist.”
Nevertheless she couldn’t show such an unsightly Queen to the soldiers who had fought hard.
She took a deep breath and straightened her back.
“We’re going home! All troops, advance!”
Shouts of joy could be heard as her voice resounded throughout the quiet battlefield. The triumphant knights sparkled under the sunlight. The scene was very dreamlike, Mari thought absentmindedly.
(………… It would be good if this was a dream.)
The pain that was stabbing at her chest thrusted Mari into reality.
The pain of being exposed to hostility and being abused as a demon by the enemy army. The pain that ran through her body felt real. Mari began to think that this wasn’t a dream.