Both sides who were busy killing each other looked up.
With some kind of balance, Claudia somehow stood up on the red-winged draconis with her favourite spear in one hand, and a bow and arrow in her other, for some reason. Her lips were raised in a smile, and she seemed like she was having fun. Still, her smile didn’t remind me of my father’s repulsive smile; maybe because her smile didn’t have any dark feelings hidden behind it.
Then ――― Claudia jumped off the draconis’s back without hesitation. She folded her arms with her weapons in hand, and landed gracefully in the middle of the battle. The loud thud caused by her landing caused a moment of silence over Jugfena Fortress. She hadn’t fallen from a great height, but why didn’t she damage her bones and internal organs? No matter how I look at it, it didn’t look like she had warded off the impact. Just how much does this girl break the rules of common sense? Claudia’s actions seemed so surreal that it eased my tension a little.
Claudia inhaled and took a deep breath, then announced herself grandly.
“MY NAME IS CLAUDIA LORENZORELL. I’M DEEPLY INDEBTED TO VISCOUNTESS KALDIA, SO I CAME TO THIS BATTLE TO AID THE KNIGHTS OF JUGFENA FORTRESS!!”
My eardrums throbbed from her loud voice. The soldiers and knights standing closest to her whether they be enemies or allies were all covering their ears as well. Rather than an otome game, how about changing the genre to shounen manga? I had this out-of-place thought.
I could only watch the scene below me in a daze. Claudia swung her spear at the enemy soldiers, who were coming at her in all directions with their swords drawn, making me wonder just how her slender arms could have that much power. She drew back her spear, and stabbed the enemy behind her in the stomach, knocking him out. Taking advantage of the weight of her metal spear, she blew the swarm of enemies to the side. My cheeks twitched as I saw what an unstoppable force she was.
Then, I felt Kamil wrap an arm around my stomach. Rashiok descended. With a roar, he sent the scattered enemy soldiers, who were in the vicinity of the tower connecting the nobles’ building and knight building, flying.
“We’re getting off!”
Kamil picked me up and jumped off Rashiok’s back before he finished speaking. I felt pressure on my organs, and a groan escaped from my lips.
Surrounded by enemies, the knights, who had their hands full protecting the two unconscious men, looked for an opening, and ran. Kamil ran after him while still holding on to me.
“Wh-what about Claudia, Rashiok and the others?!”
“It’s alright, if they don’t have to guard anyone then they won’t be defeated by those few people.”
I cried out, worriedly, but Kamil responded, calmly. However, the scene of Dominic and the other soldiers from my army dying played repeatedly in my mind.
Kamil had said they ‘won’t be defeated’. He didn’t say that nobody would die. However, ――― that was something that would happen anyway, since this is war. In times of war, soldiers accept that they may die at any time, and didn’t I lead them here because of this?
I swallowed the saliva that was overflowing in my mouth, and decided that this would be the last time I worry about what was happening behind me.
Instead of wishing for them to live, I wished for victory. Their victory would give the sacrificed lives meaning, and allow the other soldier and knights to survive. I came here because I know that. Therefore, I have to survive for as long as I can to connect myself to their feelings. At the very least, I can’t allow myself to be killed for revenge just because I had let my guard down.
Even though it was a time like this, memories of my childhood hectically flashed through my mind and disappeared; my family, father’s dark and twisted smile, and the silent and unfriendly maid who was so thin that it looked like she would break.
――― You like me, don’t you? So much so that you don’t mind being killed. I also like you, so much so that I don’t want to kill you.
The cold feeling came back to me, and I choked as if a lid had been placed in my throat. I struggled free from Kamil’s arms.
“I can run on my own.”
When he reached out his hand to me in confusion, I casually dodged it. Apparently, Kamil won’t try to kill me somewhere others can see ――― he might not want to be charged with a crime. Even if he were to slash me with his sword right now, it will probably be written off as ‘killed in action’. If Kamil really wanted to kill me and didn’t want to be charged with the crime, then this war is the golden opportunity for him.
――― Kamil. Why did you come here?
I asked myself this question once again in my mind, and felt a piercing pain in my chest… Even though I wanted to meet him.
The knights, who were carrying Earl Einsbark and Wiegraf, went through the nobles’ building and headed straight for the hidden passage. There’s probably nowhere else that can serve as shelter for nobles. The enemies have raided Jugfena Fortress, and we don’t know their total numbers or what route they took, so hiding in a cave that the enemy probably didn’t know about for the time being is probably the best course of action.
We mixed along with the knights at the back and were running as well.
Beyond the long corridor in the nobles’ building, I saw a wide space that was gorgeously decorated. This was the entrance hall in the nobles’ building, and connected the second and third floors. Since the first floor was for the servants, the noble guests were welcomed on the second floor of the nobles’ building.
I discovered that we were half-way to our destination thanks to this hall, and was finally able to loosen up a little. We hadn’t ran for that long, but to the abnormal feeling of being on a battlefield, the corridor felt unpleasantly longer than usual. We’ll reach the big hall with the hidden passage after we pass through this hall and a corridor.
“――― Wait! Stop!”
A knight running in front of us raised his voice to stop us. Everyone immediately got ready for battle. I tightly gripped the hilt of my sword, and slightly pulled it out of its sheath. I could see that tension had filled the air. I did my best to sharpen my five senses as much as possible, so that I would be ready for anything ――― then I heard the light sound of the enemy’s armour from behind.
“Dammit… The entrance crumbled!”
A soldier howled in disappointment as he looked at the entrance hall in regret for a few seconds, then he shook his head and turned around.
“We can’t go through here. Retrace our steps before the enemy finds us!!”
“The tower! We can get to the fourth floor from the tower!!”
We turned around and climbed back up the tower which we had just passed through. Knights from the nobles’ building and the knight building clashed into each other as we continued up the narrow, spiral stairway, then the last person bolted both doors.
It was clear that the doors were different in strengths. I could hear the sounds of bodies hitting against the wall, then the sounds of something cracking into pieces resounded throughout the tower. When we finally reached the corridor on the fourth floor, I could hear the dull thud of a bolt hitting the stone floor from somewhere.
“Hurry to the big hall!”
I could hear that there were several people chasing after us, but that was all I knew. I couldn’t afford to look back. The knights were carrying two injured nobles, so it would be challenging to attack back if the enemy was to strike here. In the first place, I couldn’t give my opinion since I’m not much better baggage than the two unconscious people over there.
The enemy probably didn’t have any bows since they weren’t shooting arrows at us from behind, but other projectiles gradually came flying towards us, to the extent where it was getting harder to run due to the things cluttering the corridors.
I ran desperately to avoid being a target, but an ornament plate smashed right next to me; a splinter from that grazed my cheeks, and I felt frustration along with pain.
The differences in our strides was great, and I was slowly falling further and further behind into the back ranks, since I am slow.
Suddenly, someone grabbed my arm and pulled me behind him. When I realised what was going on; Kamil had changed places with me for some reason.
“Wah,” a surprise exclamation came out of my mouth. However, it was drowned out by a boom. A ray of white light burst right in front of me and my vision turned white.
Kamil held me and rolled far away from the explosion point. I could see pillars of fire rising from the edge of my vision. I could only stare dumbfounded as the curtains near the carpet and barred windows went up in flames instantly. Kamil immediately stood up, and I don’t know whether he was carrying me or dragging me, but he ran in the opposite direction from the one where we were heading earlier.
I could just make out that the glass windows on the other side of the curtains had shattered, and the pieces were blown outside. I could feel the heat from behind me. The woollen carpets burnt unusually fast. My heart was beating so fast that I wondered if I would get a heart attack. What was that? A bomb? No way. I have never heard that such weapons were being developed here, and they don’t even use gunpowder in this world. They might use Molotov cocktails here, but even those can’t explode. Moreover, I didn’t see any fire until the explosion happened.
My body finally floated. Kamil lifted me up with one hand, then took a deep breath.
“Kamil, ――― are you injured?”
Kamil’s right arm, which was holding onto me, was badly burnt and was dripping blood. Did he get burnt from the bomb earlier, ――― or did he get it from protecting me from the explosion? Come to think of it, there’s a dull, numb pain on my hands, feet and cheeks too. When I glanced down, I was bleeding all over the place, although it wasn’t as bad as Kamil.
Whether it’s because my life is in danger, or maybe because my blood is actively circulating around, even though I should be hot-headed right now, my head was miraculously ice cold and clear. As the fog in my head cleared, I even remembered some previously blurry fragmented memories from my previous life.
… Oh yeah, guns had appeared in Arxia Kingdom where the otome game had taken place. They were muzzleloaders, but I vaguely remember a conversation which stated that they were useful in subjugating magical beasts.
I don’t have any proof that the situation of this world will move according to the scenario of the game, but if guns are going to be developed in seven or eight years, then they should already have the gunpowder. Even if Arxia doesn’t have such technology right now, maybe Densel does, or maybe it can be obtained in Parmigran as they thrive in sea trading.
“Get out of my way!!”
Kamil dove straight into the pursuers, who were chasing us from behind, while still holding on to me with one hand. It felt like my heart was freezing over.
I wonder if Kamil is willing to die so that he can kill me, anger, fear, and suspicion was welling up within me. But, it’s too late to escape from his arm now. The fire was drawing closer from behind us.
Kamil dodged the slashes from the attackers closest to us, and killed him with a single stab to the neck like he had done so long ago to the Lisol. The point of Kamil’s sword went into the enemy’s clavicle, and slid through the soft fleshy part of his neck. As expected, Kamil had hid his true skill from me on that winter day. My face paled.
Kamil easily dodge the next attacker’s swing from atop the stairs, then slit the throat of the man, who had hidden and ambushed us from the side. He changed to a backhand grip, and swung it without looking.
I heard a thud, and was splashed in warm liquid.
Kamil had killed three people in an instant like it was nothing.
I could only watch him in astonishment. At the same time, I had goosebumps all over my body from my baseless fears. Why did Kamil have the skills to easily kill a person ――― no, why did Kamil have the specialised training for killing people? Holding me in his arms wasn’t a drawback for him, he dodged the enemy’s attack, then stabbed their throats, and continued to repeat these robotic movements. Kamil had taken out 20 attackers by himself in less than five minutes.
So much blood had collected into the carpet that it wasn’t absorbing anymore, and the blood that was dripping from my hair was making ripples as it dripped onto the blood pools. The smell of iron and blood filled the air, and I felt so nauseous that my stomach started churning. I only had a light breakfast, and had nothing to vomit out, so it was painful. Kamil’s blood-stained left hand stroked my back as I vomited.