It was a scene that should be described as nothing more than being trampled over.
Screams, shouts and the sounds of things crushing. Even though it was a battlefield, sobbing and cries for help occasionally pierced the skies.
Arxian troops crushed the encamped Rindarl soldiers, both armed and unarmed alike, and the people who were leading them were, of course, the Jugfena knights.
Like in the daytime, the Royal Army troops followed after them and trampled everything else down. It was as if they were cultivating a field or something.
However, the situation here wasn’t much different from the riverbank. Wiegraf, who still held a grudge from the incident from seven years ago, prepared bombs from gunpowder, that the enemy had prepared to blow up our soldiers with, and instead used it to blow up the enemy. I boarded the large ship which had a large hole blown to the bottom of it and proceeded to rampage, destroying everything. Enemies who were too late or had been too stupid to run were thrown into the river, killed or captured. Once the ship had reached the point of no return, I escaped and moved onto the next ship.
Once all six ships had been destroyed, I got out of the river and went upstream.
“Alright, pour it.”
Wiegraf’s grand gesture was still going on as the contents of the barrels he had prepared were poured into the river. The liquid, which was lighter than water, formed a film on top of the water as it was poured. I don’t think I need to tell you what it is, but it’s oil.
To make matters worse, the barrels containing the oil were quickly dismantled and thrown into the river, completing the preparations.
“Are we done? Then, get back. Get the arrows ready ――― fire!”
The soldiers shot their fire arrows at the barrel fragments. It was difficult for the Kaldia army to hit the drifting targets, since they didn’t have daily archery training, but those who were good at archery still managed to hit their target to a certain extent.
The fire from the arrows spread to the oil-soaked barrel fragments, which in turn ignited the oil on the surface of the water. Once that happened, the rest was quick. I watched the unusual sight of fire spread as if it was licking the water and the soldiers who were whispering to each other, “Wow~,” “Amazing,” even though we were still in the middle of a battle.
The ships, which had been reduced to rubble, burst into flames and the surviving Rindarl soldiers, who had lost the means to escape, began to throw away their weapons one after the other and raise the white flag. They had completely lost the will to fight. Even those reluctant Rindarl soldiers didn’t seem like they wanted to fight with their backs against the wall in this devastating situation.
Before long, Arxia’s victory cry of “God is with us!” was heard.
The soldiers shouted with joy.
“We’ve won! This is the end of this stupid war! Our lord picks up the ‘victories’ in the end!”
Asyl, who was standing right next to me, also shouted in joy as if he wasn’t tired from marching and fighting all day and night.
… I don’t think I had much to do with the victory of this battle, nor the victory of this war. I didn’t say that now, since it would be too tactless of me to say it while everyone was basking in joy from winning.
Wiegraf had made all the plans for this battle and he also prepared everything we needed. I’m sure his plans are flawless. I only gave orders, and it was the soldiers who did the hard work.
As for the war itself, I did make quite a name for myself, but I don’t think that had any effect on the outcome. At the most, I did increase my pieces and gained a range of tactics.
Even if I hadn’t been here, the fear and pressure on the enemy soldiers would remain the same since Ergnard, the Jugfena knights, and Marquis Lorenzorell’s knights, who are even more feared than me, had all participated in the battles.
… Well, personally, I feel a little better.
I’m aware that I went too far in some areas. I will never forget until the day I die that I did a lot of things that I thought were inhumane. However, when I think about my first battle, which I was forced to pretend didn’t happen, I felt exhilarated when I broke the Densel soldier’s will to fight. I knew I was taking it out on them.
“Shall we go back to Di Loe Das, Milord?”
Calvin, who had led the troops who were standing by the riverbank and were guarding the oil barrels, softly called out to me.
“Ah, yeah,” I nodded, then patted Rashiok’s neck. I got off his back to walk home with the soldiers for a change.
Or that was what I was going to do.
But all of a sudden, the snake-like tail pulled my leaning body back, and the next thing I knew, my vision was shaking violently. Rashiok jumped back.
The draconis’s actions were so sudden that I didn’t know what had happened for a moment.
I saw a large object fly in a straight line from the sky to the place where Rashiok and I had been before.
Ah, so he avoided that ――― my mind, which had been dulled by the shaking impact, registered at first.
“―――― Aaaasyl! Calvinn!”
Then I realised that the two, who had been by my side, were lying flat at that thing’s feet.
Taaarrrruuuu, it chirped gracefully and loudly.
There it was; the mysteriously beautiful golden bird ――― that was controlled by the girl who attacked Kaldia six years ago in winter.
Rashiok let out a menacing roar. The wind began to blow painfully, and the giant bird avoided it nonchalantly.
“――― Kaldia army, evacuate! If there are any injured people nearby, then lend them a hand! But don’t approach the large bird to help them!”
I shouted from the pit of my stomach to pull back my panic-induced thoughts. The soldiers, who were just as stunned as I was, by the giant bird who had flown in from the air, came back to their senses and immediately followed my orders to get away from the giant bird.
Even though I had told the soldiers to stay away from the giant bird, every last soldier who had fainted at its feet were being dragged away. Well, the ones doing the rescuing were the soldiers who were lucky enough not to be knocked unconscious by the giant bird, so they certainly weren’t approaching it.
“The wounded should retreat first! Archers get into position! …Rashiok. Protect everyone!”
Isolating ourselves for the sake of the operation had backfired. There was no way for the current Kaldia army, who are equipped with only bows and no other means of attack nearby, to deal with such a big bird.
The soldiers guessed my intentions and quickly ran into the shade of the trees. The giant bird only tilted its head and watched them go… I wondered if it was because the bird’s body wasn’t suitable for chasing small, fast-moving things while it was on the ground. Or was it simply because it wasn’t specifically targeting the soldiers?
But when Rashiok stepped forward to take the place of the retreating soldiers and spread one of his wings widely, the giant bird couldn’t ignore his intimidation and cried out menacingly in a high-pitched tone.
It was like a battle of great monsters.
Do you have time to think about this kind of thing? I thought, but I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that I felt out of place mounted on Rashiok.
――― But that feeling soon vanished.
As soon as the giant bird looked up at the skies and let out a high-pitched scream, ――― where should I say it came from? A bolt of lighting came down from the clear night sky which had no dark clouds in it and struck the nearby tree.
A thunderous roar. My ears went numb. The sound faded and my head tilted. My whole field of vision went white.
It was a moment where I couldn’t move.
Someone yanked my arm vigorously and dragged me down from on top of Rashiok.
A moan escaped from my lips as I was knocked to the ground helplessly, but something quickly blocked my mouth and drowned out the sound.
What is it? What happened?
My blurred vision gradually returned. I tried to get rid of the hand that was covering my mouth, but they said, “Don’t move, Eliza Kaldia.”
――― I thought I was going to stop breathing.
The voice had changed and was much lower than I remembered… but that voice certainly belonged to…
I opened my eyes and slowly saw his contour.
The fire at the bottom of the cliff illuminated his features and the wind blew up his brown hair which had peeked out from the edge of his hood.
Cold, inhuman eyes peeked down at me. The eyes which were watching me were the same colour as the stones on the chain on my left arm.
A bad burn covered most of his face. Combined with the cuts that were running horizontally across, his face looked nothing like the gentle face that I remembered.
But he is certainly ――― but he is certainly Kamil.
My lips shivered. I tried to call his name, “Kamil,” but my voice wouldn’t come out.
As if sensing my movements, Kamil slowly removed his hand from my mouth. As if taking its place, his other hand which gripped his dagger in an underhanded grip, crawled over my neck. I felt a slight pressure on my throat from the handle’s ornament and my face contorted.
“… Is it painful? But you can talk, right?”
“a… Wh… y?”
“There’s something I want to ask. Reply briefly ――― and I’ll kill you quickly and painlessly.”
I felt as if my vision had gone completely black.
His words didn’t even have any murderous intent behind it. His declaration sounded emotionless.
My throat hurt as if the hand was digging into it. It was hard to breathe, and the area around my eyes was hot. ――― No. It’s because… I’m crying?
As soon as I realised that tears started falling from the corner of my eyes onto the side of my head.
As soon as this happened, the hand around my neck was pulled away. What? … Is he upset? I looked up at him in surprise and saw that he was looking at me with a strange expression on his face. It was as if he didn’t know why he had done that.
I still tried to call his name even though I cough from suddenly inhaling air, but the dagger that was held high in the air as if it was going to strike me made my throat tighten.
A sound of something slashing resounded through the air. He hadn’t slashed me. The skin above my ears which had been pulled up lost its sensation. It seemed like he had cut my tied up hair.
My whole body tensed at the thought of the blade being pointed at me even though it wasn’t directly pointed at me. Cold sweat seemed to ooze out from my forehead. Of course, my tears dried straight away.
Kamil himself, the man who had frightened me in such a way, looked at me with his eyes widened, and his lips were trembling just like mine had been a while ago. I’ve seen people look like this before. It was a look of panic ――― confusion and disbelief at what they had done. It was the face of someone who had acted on impulse and made a mistake.
A gust of wind blew from the sky and my hair flew up. It’s Rashiok. His bark intimidated Kamil, but he also certainly had confusion in his eyes.
The huge bird chirped as if to erase the wind. Another thunderous roar sounded twice. Rashiok’s intimidation ――― the gust of wind turned from Kamil to the giant bird. Even Rashiok couldn’t get to me while dealing with that giant bird.
But in that instant, Kamil had lost his posture. Now ――― I thought as I reached for the sword on my waist.
But Kamil was faster than me. He grabbed my wrist and pressed the dagger blade at my neck.
“I told you not to move!”
He screamed in anger, and I could also feel sorrow in his voice.
“You’re the only one who knows! I’m, I’m…! What is it?!”
――― Hah? What did he just say…?
“Get away ――― from her!”
I reached out at Kamil, forgetting that I had a blade at my throat.
Someone on a draconis rushed at Kamil from above with a sword, and when Kamil noticed this, he pulled his dagger away from my neck and stopped the sword. The metal collided with each other, and Kamil’s body swayed when the metal rubbed against each other.
“That’s enough ――― get off her!”
At that moment. Kamil’s side was kicked. Kamil lost his posture and rolled off me.
Kamil looked at me reluctantly for a moment. But he pulled up the hem of his hood like that time when he pulled me down and ran up to the giant bird.
“aa ――― wait!”
“Kamil,” my voice which had called out to him was drowned out by the giant bird flapping its wings again.
“Are you alright, Earl Kaldia?”
Before I could watch him go away in dismay, someone had come to help me up by pulling my arm.
I’ve seen his face before. Somewhere… Where did I see it?
“Ah, you’re hurt so badly… Ergnard-sama will be sad. How can his foster daughter get this tattered?”
I realised when he said that. Like this man had said, I was in tatters. My whole body, especially my right wrist, started to ache, and my left ear could barely hear any sounds.
“Hmm… Who are you?”
But I was more concerned about the man in front of me. I’m sure he’s an ally, since he rode on a draconis ――― and Rashiok’s sibling at that.
… Hmm, wait, a draconis…? A memory from some time ago was stuck on my mind. Someone who rode on a draconis and came to my rescue…
“Did you also come to save me… seven years ago?”
The man’s stony expression faltered slightly, and he bowed.
“I’m sorry I haven’t introduced myself to you yet. My name is Oscar Thelesia. I’m the grandnephew of Siegmund Thelesia, your guardian.”
I widened my eyes in surprise. Earl Thelesia’s blood relative?! I felt déjà vu, and now that he had mentioned it, he made an expression that looked exactly like Earl Thelesia’s, which convinced me that he is related to him.