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One week after we captured the Talberg Mountain Fortress we were still besieged by fresh forces of the rebel army. The number of rebels encircling us over here is around 10.000 in estimation. Without starting a siege battle, they at first sent a messenger to demand our capitulation following etiquette. Next they examined our side from outside the range of Wilma’s magic sniper rifle. The reason for that is probably because many magicians with a lot of mana were sniped one after the other by Wilma who should be someone that kills in such way for the first time. Of course superior magicians tried to defend with 『Magic Barrier』, but with me stacking 『Burst』 onto the bullets, their barriers were penetrated and erased. Many of them pa.s.sed away by getting their heads pulverized. The remaining magicians launched spells in retaliation, but those were blocked by Burkhart-san, Dous.h.i.+ and the magicians of the Mizuho national army. Because our side devoted itself to defence, with the exception of the sniping, it turned into a far more disadvantageous situation for the rebel army’s magicians. As they didn’t have any high-ranking magicians to begin with, the rebel army that lost in the magic battle retreated outside the magic sniper rifle’s range and returned to its original plan of besieging us.
“They are not coming any closer, right?”
“They will storm the fortress after starving and weakening us. Or they will demand surrender, I guess.”
As I’m looking at the enemy army in the distance from atop the wall together with Takeomi-san, they don’t move. Since they are calculating that our food will be used up soon, their plan is probably to avoid acting unreasonably. The one who was currently following me was Haruka’s elder brother, Takeomi-san. This person was quite decent as long as his younger sister wasn’t involved. There’s nothing strange about this statement whatsoever.
“But then again, we haven’t used up our food, but…”
It was unknown whether Therese made me partic.i.p.ate due to foreseeing this situation, but we pulled through the shortage with the food stored away in my magic bag.
『Earl-sama, you are carrying a large amount of food, right? Didn’t you return the share of Margrave Breithilde’s expedition in the past?』
『It’s just stuff that piled up after buying it.』 (Wendelin)
『Is that what you call, as long as one is prepared…』 (Burkhart)
『Burkhart-san, how about you?』
『Me, Dous.h.i.+ and Katharinjou-chan got at least our own shares covered.』
I don’t know what other people own. At any rate, there’s no problem with me stockpiling it since it won’t spoil. Besides, if you have money, it will cause one to buy impulsively after all. There are also the things I haven’t sold off like the ingredients we obtained by hunting and gathering in the Demon Forest. I bought a large amount of food after coming to the empire as well. Thanks to that, our allies aren’t starving at the moment. It’s likely owed to me being taught by master to maintain a large amount of food in my magic bag. However, it’s only overwhelmingly a lot for a single individual. When it comes to feeding 1500 people, it would sooner or later hit the limit.
『Even so, it’s amazing since you let 1500 people eat for more than a week.』
『I’m the type who doesn’t take food lightly.』
『I do understand that after seeing this.』
There’s also the food we brought along with the army to begin with and the little bit of food left behind in the fortress, but as expected, one more week will probably be the limit. According to the strategic plan, it was scheduled for food and dedicated guards to arrive here right after we captured the fortress, but it was unthinkable for them to get through with this perfect encirclement.
“I guess they will realize it any time now?”
“They shouldn’t notice it for a few more days.”
If it doesn’t concern his younger sister, Takeomi-san is usually an excellent subordinate and swordsman. The reason for us acting as if we are running low on food is to trigger a needless offensive once they think that they have leeway to do so. It might be wrong if we don’t fight them eventually, but currently it was necessary to prepare for a fortress defence battle first. This Talberg Mountain Fortress apparently didn’t receive much of a budget. Contrary to its appearance from far away, it has worrying parts in its defence capabilities due to the lack of maintenance. I got stuck fixing various of those with my magic.
“They shouldn’t have been suspicious of us at the occasion when we returned the prisoners.”
At the time when we got surrounded by the rebel army in the beginning, we released everyone that became a prisoner in the previous siege battle. Even if they stayed here, they would be a ha.s.sle to take care of. After all they would also consume food. Given that it was an unconditional release, Toyotsugu-san gave the commander of the rebel army a him befitting vocal message of 『It’s an expression of respect towards the soldiers of the enemy army that fought bravely』, but the enemy army very likely believed that we considered the prisoners, who would pointlessly consume our food, as burden. Since we sent them back without asking for ransom or a prisoner exchange, the other side should believe that we made a bitter decision in order to lower the food consumption.
“We have to throw them off guard a bit more, I guess.”
Due to the fact of us being besieged by the rebel army that appeared right after we occupied the Talberg Mountain Fortress, the same thing should have happened in the other occupied territories. Without a doubt Therese has to send out soldiers as rear guard. It’s highly likely that we will be put off going by priority and numbers of military forces. In that case gaining time might be the best plan.
“She will probably prioritize young Duke Baden and his followers.”
It’s young Duke Baden that destroyed himself after proposing an excessively aggressive plan, but since he’s an influential ally, she can’t let him die without helping either. If he died in action, there was the possibility of the Duke Baden household changing to the rebel army’s side in fear of the safety of Duke Baden who’s said to have been captured by Duke Nürnberg.
“Besides, this place won’t fall that quickly.”
When the two of us went to the Mizuho national army’s encampment after descending from the wall that had already been repaired and reinforced, Toyotsugu-san and the top bra.s.s under him were having a meal. The menu consists of something resembling vegetables and meat in soy sauce with grilled bread. Also, in addition to this, I provided them with chocolate and native fruits of the Demon Forest. Commonly there’s a great difference in army meals between soldiers and those above knights. It seems there are even some among the n.o.bles that bring their own cooks along, but now everyone was taking the same meal. Since it’s a fortress defence battle where the mental condition and morale of the soldiers will be important, it’s possible for us to suffer an unforeseen defeat if only the top bra.s.s eats delicious food and drinks alcohol.
“I want to eat fish, you know.”
“I want to have my fill on drinks after quickly beating and killing that bunch.”
“I think it’s already a luxury that we can eat decently. If it wasn’t for Earl Baumeister-sama, we would have run out of food by now.”
The top bra.s.s of the Mizuho army eats their provided food quickly. Since we are in a war, it seems to be crucial etiquette to eat swiftly.
“It looks like we will be provided with rice tomorrow?”
“Yes, though it’s the southern rice…”
I answer Toyotsugu-san’s question. It was the rice originating from Breitburg which I considered as delicious at the time when I first obtained it in my childhood, but if you compare it to the rice domestically produced in Earl Mizuho Country, its taste loses out no matter what. Given that the south has a mild climate and an abundance of water, it’s possible to harvest twice a year, but compared to the north that can’t grow rice more than once a year, it’s inferior in taste. Rice becomes delicious with an extreme variation between hot and cold temperatures. This is something I’ve heard often in my time as salary man. The evaluation of rice from Niigata and the Tohoku region is high. Such is also the reason why the rice of western j.a.pan isn’t that famous. In addition there’s also the influence of water quality. But this is also better on the side of Earl Mizuho Country that can use thawed water. Moreover, although the yield will drop, it’s actually easy to improve the taste of rice by growing it in mountainous areas. In reality the rice that has been cultivated in the mountains among the rice produced in Earl Mizuho Country had a higher price with its low amount of yield. I bought it as well. When I tried to cook it as test, it was really delicious. It was completely as if eating Kos.h.i.+hikari. (T/N: rice sort, google it if you want) On the other hand its price is two shu per 10 kilogram, 20.000 yen in j.a.panese currency (around 180 $). It seems that it reached this price since it’s being exported to the empire as high-cla.s.s food.
“I won’t complain as long as I can eat rice. Besides, I’d like to thank you for even providing alcohol for us.”
As one-time exception, I provided one cup worth of alcohol to all of them. It was something similar to rum that I had forcibly brewed with magic using sugar of which I possessed large amounts as ingredient, but it was popular among the soldiers who were unable to prepare alcohol due to the sudden fortress defence battle.
“The truth is that I have various others as well, but…”
All of the alcoholic drinks that I couldn’t share with all soldiers had been sealed away. After all we would incur the soldiers’ displeasure if we ate the delicious things only among ourselves. Given that discord inside a closed-off s.p.a.ce such as a fortress defence battle will explosively spread from the most trivial things, the act of just the leaders drinking alcohol or eating special dishes had been prohibited.
“Though in my heart I want to drink your treasured wine even if I have to buy it for five times the market price, Earl Baumeister-sama. Let’s do that after cutting our way out from here.”
“If we get through this, I will sell it a lot more cheaply. No, I will offer you one for free.”
“That’s appreciated. Let’s rampage around in proportion to that wine later.”
Besides, it has actually produced profits already. The majority of the food necessary for holding the fortress was provided by me, but it’s definitely not for free. I will send all the claims to Therese.That sum of money will be considerably higher than the market price. After all I will charge her while adding a transportation fee.
『Wend, is it really no problem to go with three times the market price?』
Ina, who is keeping the account book of the provided food as it’s necessary to write down the bills, asked for confirmation due to my instructions. She’s most likely considering it to be too much of a rip-off.
『It’s Therese’s error that invited this situation.』
The failure of providing supplies is the duty of the supreme commander, Therese, who should take responsibility for it. Because it’s me who has to clean up her mess, it’s only natural for the remuneration to have an increased amount. Besides, it’s not good for Therese to create too many debts towards me.
『It would be better for me to be considered a stingy man despite having achieved military gains by the other retainers and n.o.bles.』
It’s a precaution so that the other side won’t think of lending and borrowing as they please. Looking at the war progress so far, Therese will likely be stuck suffering with the reorganization of the empire’s domestic affairs for a while even if she wins. For that empire it would be troublesome if they consider me getting involved with it. A person who takes their reward greedily as mercenary is actual of more benefit to her.
『Since it’s Therese-sama, I believe that she will understand your intentions, Wend, but she will likely cry about the piled-up expenses.』
『I won’t take responsibility for it to that extent.』
Such arguments exist as well. Therese should be quite troubled in working out a reward for us. If she unskilfully a.s.signs territory or concessions to us, there will be opposition in her surroundings. If she changes it into a loan, she will end up increasing her debt towards us. Therese has the obligation to pay the reward to us in one batch.
“For the people of Earl Mizuho Country, the state of the empire’s government being somewhat weakened is convenient.”
Although it’s a protectorate, seeing that there are too many people like Duke Nürnberg, it’s wrong for Earl Mizuho Country to always exist as imaginary enemy for the empire. Even in the current joint army, by no means did they partic.i.p.ate just out of good will.
“Anyhow, we won’t be able to receive that reward if we can’t win.”
“Certainly, there’s no point if we don’t win.”
Several days after that talk, the rebel army finally made its move. As if checking the situation little by little, they climbed the mountain road directly in front of the Talberg Mountain Fortress’ gate. Influenced by the width of the mountain road, the number of military forces that can attack simultaneously in front of the gate is around 2000 people, I suppose. However, if they can attack in turns, there was the danger of the rebel army capturing the fort since they had 10.000 soldiers.
“The magicians are getting a VIP protection…?”
Being vigilant of Wilma’s previous sniping, they, who had their numbers decreased, were a.s.signed to act as guards for n.o.bles and such. Once I observe their military forces in detail, I can see that they are a mixed army of feudal armies that joined the rebel army. Having personally seen the last moments of the magicians that got sniped, they seem to devote themselves to their own protection.
“They are not wrong. After all it’s troublesome if a n.o.ble family head dies.”
It’s inevitable for the feudal army to fall into disorder once its top vanishes. There are also many who end up being regarded as only trying to avoid getting wounded or killed by themselves, but since that might be because of the difference in their conduct until now, I can’t say anything about it.
“What will you do, Wend?”
“I will test my new weapon.”
“Is it fine if I throw this huge jute bag?”
“I leave it to your superhuman strength, Luise.”
“As I’m only increasing my power with magic, it’s not like I’m usually that strong though…” (Luise)
It seemed that she was a bit unhappy with me treating her as possessor of superhuman strength, but Luise threw the spherical jute bag that was prepared below her feet with its diameter of one meter towards the marching enemy army. The soldiers hurriedly evaded the jute bag that flew several hundred meters after getting boosted with mana, but I ignited the jute bag just before it hit the ground with magic. The jute bag caused a huge explosion originating from its centre. As it was stuffed with things like bullets prepared by me, sharp rock fragments and metal pieces that have no other use but getting melted down, those were scattered into the surroundings and many soldiers became victims to them. In regards to its power, the fragments that flew towards n.o.bles were blocked by the 『Magic Barriers』 of the guarding magicians, but it’s not like the n.o.bles are the targets. By wounding and killing as many soldiers as possible, it turned into a situation of them giving up on a siege battle.
“I ended up throwing all of them.”
“It’s that kind of weapon. It has an amazing power.”
The total number of prepared jute bags with fragments in them was 10. All of them exploded close to marching soldiers and caused many victims. There weren’t that many dead, but there are many soldiers wounded by the fragments. The heavily injured soldiers are safe and they get pulled back to the rear by the lightly injured soldiers.
“They won’t be able to partic.i.p.ate in the attack until their treatment finishes.”
In addition it will increase the burden on the campaign priests who shouldn’t have been replenished overly much. If they bolster the attack unreasonably before they can recover their mana after having lost it due to the many injured, it’s easy to expect that they won’t be able to save the wounded as they won’t be able to heal them. It was something we prepared for the sole reason of stalling. Given that there have been definitely casualties above the three-digits, it was effective, even as offensive weapon.
“Wend, you are vicious, aren’t you?”
“Uh huh. I will receive those words as praise.” (Wendelin)
“As a husband you are quite reliable, I guess. But why did those explode?”
“I used unused magic stones sc.r.a.ps.” (Wendelin)
If it’s on Earth, one would likely use gunpowder, but I don’t possess the knowledge how to manufacture gunpowder. I feel like I heard that the materials are charcoal, sulphur and saltpetre, but the actual mixture of those is difficult. It will be troublesome if I cause a detonation during the mixing. Besides, why should I, who can use magic in this world predominated by magic, have to popularize gunpowder? It couldn’t be helped if someone invented it, but in reality I don’t have any worries on that side. That’s because of the magic guns that shoot mana bullets implemented by Earl Mizuho Country. There’s no doubt that both countries will devote all their effort on spreading these.
“Magic stones, you say?”
“It’s necessary to meddle with them a bit though.”
Among the magic stones that can be obtained by hunting monsters there are many which don’t fetch much of a price because they have too little mana within them or are too small. There’s also the way of treating them as consumable goods just like firewood and charcoal for the production of magic tools, but since there isn’t that much demand for that, the adventurer’s guild doesn’t pay much for them. It seems there was a technology to create magic gems from a large amount of magic stones sc.r.a.ps during the era of the Ancient Magic Civilization, but unfortunately that’s still being researched for now. It’s not like the magic tool guild and the sorcery guild have increased their demand in regards to the quant.i.ty in order to experiment on it. Thus I pointlessly stored away the magic stone sc.r.a.ps I gathered. Putting these magic stone sc.r.a.ps into a jute bag and creating a core of a size around that of a dodge ball, I have altered the property of their mana by casting the 『Tuning』 spell. Next I created a big bag by placing the previous jute bag with the magic stone sc.r.a.ps bag in the middle and filling up the rest of the s.p.a.ce with stones, iron sc.r.a.ps and bullets. After throwing it to a distant place, explosion magic is cast on it at just the right moment. It’s something that’s aiming for the same effect as a burst bullet, but what becomes the key here is the 『Tuning』 of mana. I use 『Tuning』 on the mana properties of the magic stone sc.r.a.ps which are slightly different from my own mana’s. Once I do this, the magic capacity of the magic stone sc.r.a.ps becomes around half of before, but if I don’t do this, I won’t be able to ignite them from a further distance. It can be regarded as a fishy method, but since my opponent in war is currently a large army I want to economize on my mana as much as possible. If it’s this method, I can save a far bigger amount of mana than firing spells from a distance with the same amount of mana.
“I also think that it’s fine as long as it’s usable.” (Armstrong)
Dous.h.i.+ who can’t use 『High-Speed Flight』 due to the blockade of movement magic, boosted his physical strength with mana and continued to throw stones. He has likely chosen that method because there are as many throwable stones as he wishes. Soldiers directly hit by a stone stopped moving, but the efficiency isn’t really that good. Dous.h.i.+ currently didn’t use the snake-emitting spell as its mana consumption is intense in relation to its power. He’s probably considering throwing stones as sufficient since there’s still a distance to the rebel army.
“Those guys won’t stop their advance, will they?”
Even while suffering several hundred casualties due to Dous.h.i.+’s stone throwing and my self-made explosion b.a.l.l.s, the rebel army is gradually approaching the main gate. The n.o.bles don’t have any sense of impending danger since they are protected by 『Magic Barriers』 cast by the few magicians. It looks like they intend to continue to attack. While Burkhart-san strengthens the attacks of our allies’ archers with magic, he observes the movements of those magicians.
“I guess the magicians won’t s.h.i.+ft to offence?”
“The n.o.bles are not a bunch that will give an order to attack to the degree of losing their own protection.”
The skill and equipment of the mixed units of the rebel army are inferior to that of the imperial army and the mixed units of the prince-electors’ feudal armies we battled before. While we are at it, they don’t seem to be used to the command chain of military forces either. They might believe that they will win if they simply flood the main gate with large numbers.
“The other side is heartless as well, I guess.”
Burkhart-san shows a stunned expression. Our allies are working diligently even though Therese has taken full command. The rebel army seems like it’s completely grasping the supremacy of Duke Nürnberg at first glance, but although the influence of annoying n.o.bles and the imperial army’s staff has fallen, they are led, no, forced to attack unreasonably without sparing any victims. For Duke Nürnberg that’s convenient as it will be great if his enemies get reduced, and even if that doesn’t happen, they will end up losing power by suffering casualties.
“On a short term, it’s a good move, but…”
“On long term it’s the worst, right?”
It will require a large amount of time and money to recover from the casualties after all. Though he might intend to reform things after the destruction.
“Wendelin-san, they got close.” (Katharina)
“I guess it’s anytime now.”
“Magic Gun Squad! Aim properly! Fire!”
The magic gunner unit that a.s.sembled on the wall starts its shooting. A large amount of regular and ballistae arrows are fired as well. Many soldiers are hit in front of the main gate and collapse on the ground. The rebel army starts its archery attacks from slightly behind the main army, but these are blocked by just Katharina.
“I can’t use it too often.” (Katharina)
Katharina freely uses the 『Strong Wind』 spell and diverts the attack of the rebel army’s archers. A large amount of arrows that were shaken by the wind magic quickly dropped to the ground.
“I will go healing.” (Elise)
Occasionally there were some who got hit by an arrow, but since the number of those is overwhelmingly lower than those of the rebel army, the wounded were immediately healed by Elise and several other healing magicians.
“Our side holds an overwhelming advantage, but I suppose they won’t give up.”
Even Erw attacked the enemy with archery alongside Haruka and Takeomi-san next to me. Since there are still no enemy soldiers who have climbed the walls, there was yet no opportunity for him to wield his katana.
“Erw, won’t you use a magic gun?”
“Although they felt sorry, I was asked to lend them mine since there aren’t enough of them. It belongs to the other party to begin with. Either way, it is inevitable since I haven’t got familiar with its handling.” (Erwin)
“At any rate, they are prioritizing the Mizuho army.”
Although they borrowed magic guns with the maintenance being handled by the Mizuho army, Erw, Haruka and Takeomi-san fall short in skill to Wilma. As the number of magic guns the Mizuho army brought along this time is low, Erw and the other two gave theirs back to the Mizuho army that can use them much more effectively. Since it was the same for Haruka and Takeomi-san who are their companions, Erw probably had no other option but to hand it back obediently.
“In that case, only Wilma has one, huh…?”
However, even Wilma didn’t use the magic sniper gun. It’s necessary for her to replenish her mana after each shot. And even if she targets the n.o.bles, the bullets will be blocked by the 『Magic Barriers』 of the magicians.
“This way is more effective.”
Wilma dropped one stone after the other that she had gathered before on the rebel army. She is easily dropping rocks with a diameter of around two meters towards the base of the walls with her superhuman strength. Of course there’s no way for those being squashed by the rocks to survive.
“They don’t give up easily.”
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