Intermission: Zena's Squad Disaster
<TLN: The chapter is told in two alternating timelines, ◇ symbol signifies timeline change.>
"Zena, the monsters flocks are coming. There are 50-60 flying type ones. As for the ones coming on the ground, there are 3 big ones, 10 medium-sized ones, and a lot of smaller ones--around 400. Most of them are insect types."
Rio comes back from scouting bringing quite hopeless numbers. Furthermore, those are just small portions of the enemies.
We, the 24 people from Seryuu city labyrinth selected corps, are the core of the left wing unit that is made in hurry and comprises of 300 people consisting of civilians, farmers, and serfs. They're similarly frightened. It's natural to be so, they're forced to fight monsters that they usually never even see while not even having decent equipments.
"Hear me, everyone must survive! Don't think only on defeating the enemy and becoming a hero! You lot's lucks are good, we have elites that have survived fight with an upper demon and real dragons, not wyverns. There is no need to worry for things like small fry monsters or mid demons."
The Vice-Captain, sir Rilo encourages the ally. He's slightly overbearing, but it seems the grim faces are decreasing from the people. That's good.
I never imagined that we would get involved in this fight when we departed from Seryuu city.
"We're doing well huh~, Zena-chi."
"That's right, Lilio."
"Lilio-san, nevermind when you're in private, but call her squad leader Zena during the march."
"Ho~i, Iona sure is stiff."
Iona-san scolds Lilio.
But, it's embarrassing to be formally called squad leader Zena.
It's been half a month since we get chosen into the selected labyrinth corps--abbreviation of labyrinth city Selbira training selected corps--after much hardships.
We should have departed on the beginning of spring, but due to the will of Earl-sama, it's been accelerated and the corps has departed. The captain and vice-captain might have decided to sortie when they hear that the season for departing has changed since the snow falls late this year.
The selected labyrinth corps consists of two knights squad with four knights and junior knights each, three magic squads with one magic soldier, two guards, one scout each, and then, one engineer squads. Beside those, there are two civil officials, and four servants.
There are 30 members in total, eight horse riders, and five carriages, maybe thanks to that sometimes thieves that can be seen on valleys or medium sized monsters attack, but they're no match against us who have been tempered in the Seryuu city underground labyrinth.
"By the way, Zena-chi."
I answer cautiously. Whenever Lilio asks like this, it's always nothing good.
I receive the provision that Iona passes. They're black bread that's roasted to be hard as stone, and bean soup. Putting aside the taste, I'm happy with the warm soup. The magician, Rodril, who's been used as a substitute of firewoods is dissatisfied, but at a time like this, I'm jealous of people who can use fire magic.
"With how well we're going, shouldn't we catch up to him soon?"
I tried to keep my mind in peace, but I couldn't stop my twitching reaction.
What should I do? She would poke more if I answered with, "Catches up with whom?". I somehow don't want to answer with, "We're still far away."
"Catches up with whom."
When I was troubled with the reply, Ruu asked. Even though Iona-san was silent, mou, Ruu.
Look, Lilio is holding her laughter while having a really bad smile on her face.
"The boy of course."
Lilio calls Satou-san with boy. He certainly seems to be younger than us from his looks, but I think Lilio who has baby face herself shouldn't call him boy. It somehow sounds like a special nickname, I feel unpleasant to it. Is this jealousy?
"It's about Zena-san's lover."
Iona answers Ruu's question.
It's not, he's not my lover yet.
Love story is a favorite of Iona-san, so it seems she can't endure it.
However, please stop talking with me as the joke material. It's painful, heartrending, and makes me feels uncertain.
The journey continues in this peaceful atmosphere for awhile, but it abruptly ends.
"We're going to use traps for the ground enemies, and fight the airborne ones. We're not going to use bows for this. Zena, and Norina, drop them to the ground with wind magic, then the knight squads overrun them at once. I leave the others to vice-captain Rilo. Kill even one of them with all your power.
Zena, and Norina, after you use magic, immediately recover your magic power on the spot. Two squads concentrate on protecting them. Don't be lured and break out even by mistake."
Captain Derio tells everyone the strategy again.
It seems that the main vanguard unit of the monsters is going to clash with baron-sama unit. We can see the cloud of dust between the bushes and trees from here.
"Start the chants."
Vice-captain Rilo orders so since captain Derio's knight squad is departing. The voice is powerful, typical of a man.
Norina and I start the magic chantings. I chant [Fallen Hammer], and Norina chants [Turbulance]. Turbulance knocks down flying monsters to the ground, it's a tactic for certain victory against a wyvern.
The problem is there are too many enemies. Unlike Turbulance, Fallen Hammer's area of effect is narrow. It can only knocks down 10 monsters at most. I adjust my cane's angle in order to have the spell casted in the center of the flock.
"....■■■ ■■■ Fallen Hammer"
I invoke the magic, slightly late from Norina. Alright, it's according to the aim.
We successfully swats down around 40 Tusk Horseflies to the ground. Right after, the captain and his squad overrun the tusk dragonflies from the flanks using wedge-shaped formations. Leaving aside when the tusk dragonflies are flying, they're slow on the ground, they become victims to the spears and hoofs.
"Whole unit, charge!"
By the order of vice-captain Rilo, all units beside Norina's and mine charge. In order to recover our magic power, we begin meditating on the spot. With the special breathing technique taught in the army, magic power recovers faster than usual. On the other hand, we're completely defenseless when we're meditating, so guards are necessary.
Lilio's crossbow, and Iona's greatsword intercept several tusk dragonflies and glutton dragonflies that are late. Since I'm fully absorbed in recovering behind Ruu's great shield, I don't see their activities.
It seems that we're the only one who fight relatively smoothly. At first, the right wing collapses, and as if trailing it, the center begins to collapse as well.
During this time, we're already fully occupied with repulsing the enemies before us, so we can't grasp the situation of our ally. Due to that, when the ally begins to retreat, we fall behind. Gradually, we get stuck with guarding the rear.
I unconsciously put my hand on the chest section of my leather armor.
A folded stole is there. My important amulet.
"Is there something?"
There should be still some time until the break, but the carriages have stopped. Lilio who has immediately gone to the front carriage to check comes back, we listen to the situation.
"We've met with the army of earl Lesseu."
"Since we're on earl Lesseu's territory, it's not strange to meet his army right?"
"The problem is, the one who call himself the earl is a boy."
"Isn't the earl supposed to be a man at his prime?"
"To make matter worse, they look like remnants of defeated army."
When we're chatting idly, the captain calls us.
The captain tells us that Lesseu city has been destroyed. It was an attack by a demon that had brought monsters along.
"Looks like the demon is level 40, an intermediate one. They say that there are 200 flying monsters, and 1200 ground monsters the demon brings."
"How strong are they?"
"The monsters are mostly a bit stronger than average soldiers, but there are some strong ones mixed in. The detail about the demon is unclear, but it seems it's a horse-headed demon strong at fire magic. It seems that the permanent army of Lesseu city has been annihilated from a surprise attack by the demon alone."
I'm confident that we can fight a lower demon even though we won't be able to win, but if it's an intermediate one, I don't think we have any chance of victory with the current force. Excluding captain Derio and the vice-captain who are at level 20s, everyone else is at level 10s. There is no magician that specialize in bombardment magic like in Seryuu city here. There are only three magic soldiers, including me, here. Our magic power capacities are low, so we can't do anything showy.
"The new earl Lesseu wants us to participate with the demon subjugation under the pretext of the [Blue Covenant]. We cannot turn this into scrap paper. The non-combatant should take refuge with the carriages in the nearby villages. It's probably safer than in the city."
The [Blue Covenant] that the captain talks about is the oldest covenant that has been passed over among the nobles since the founding of Shiga kingdom. The covenant is mainly about how the military has to cooperate together in case of demon attack. It's rarely put into work, if I'm not mistaken, the last time that happens is at marquis Muno's territory 20 years ago, before I'm born.
Just like this, we get included into the impromptu army at the second city of earl Lesseu's territory. The whole force consist of 800 regular soldiers, and 2000 militia. Even though it's twice the monster's number, the militia are just padded forces, it's certain that this will be a hard fight.
It'll be over if the demon attacks directly, but if we use the city's wall to make it into a siege war, then there's still a chance to win. Fortunately, there's an emergency communication magic tool in this city, so the information should have arrived at the neighboring cities.
We just have to wait for reinforcements now.
Everyone has thought so.
The next day, the young earl Lesseu has decided to fight the monsters on the field. The captains have tried to make him change his mind, but it's no good.
Satou-san. I might not be able to keep our promise of sending letters.
"Zena-chi, are you alive?"
"Yes, Ruu has protected me."
"Hey, Lilio. Are you only worried about Zena."
"Ruu is the most heavily armed one right. Moreover, it's impossible for Iona to die."
My memory isn't clear. We should have been dealing with monsters on the rear.
"I'm glad that you trust me. The flash earlier must have been an advanced level tactical magic fired by the demon. We would have joined the deceased if there was no Zena-chi's defensive magic."
Everyone is pitch black covered with dust.
We've narrowly escaped deaths somehow, but the footsteps of the monsters are approaching. If we start moving, the demon in the sky would probably snipe with magic without mercy.
At that time.
The sky is divided, and that appears.
A ripple that looks like when a fish turn up on water surface floats and then, it appears in the sky. A beautiful silver ship. It's a ship right?
"The great me has arrived!"
A swordsman wearing blue armor shouts while standing on the tip of the ship without any support. Even the talkative Lilio can't follow this development, she's unable close her opened mouth.
That was the encounter with the Saga empire hero, sir Hayato.
That man holds overwhelming power that annihilates the intermediate demon with one swing of his holy sword, Arondight. Even the many monsters were destroyed by his ship--Dimensional Traveler Jules Verne--burned by the ship's beam.
If this miracle didn't happen, we would die in battlefield like the others.
I want to become stronger.
At least, in equal footing with the demon. For the shares of our fallen comrades too, we will become stronger.
Next time, we will stand beside the one who creates the miracle!