Volume 4 Chapter 6

Volume 4 Chapter 6, “Walking in Pain in the Endless World”

 

———- The Holy Crusaders, the Plains of Strange Cliffs, Encampment, 24km from the City of the Gate

Chaplain: “24km left before we reach our objective.”

Leader of the Hundred Paladins: “Yes.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Even without pushing ourselves, we should be able to establish our formation in front of the City within 10 days.”

Green Ash King: “That’s right.”

The Primarch: “…… With the Heart of the Holy Spirit, we can increase our speed, and commence the attack as soon as we arrive! With the full force of the devotees of the Holy Spirit, we can break the resistance of those evil Demons and raise the flag of the Holy Church over the City.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “With regards to that”

Chaplain: “As soon as we arrive at the City of the Gate, we, the great and mighty Holy Crusaders shall spare no time in pacifying the City. Do each of you find this arrangement acceptable?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Please wait.”

Chaplain: “What objections do you have?”

Leader of the Hundred Paladins: “This is an oracle!”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Please pause for a moment. There is a report.”

Holy Imperial Strategist: “Yes. We successfully set foot into the Demon World 10 days ago. As a result of this journey, our soldiers are at the limit of their fatigue. As it has taken more time than we expected, we currently do not even have two months worth of rations. Moreover, in this battle, we cannot forget even for an instant that the enemy have a limitless expanse of land to their rear. Our supply lines are based on the encampments we have made thus far. The logistics and security of the rations is slowing down the movement of our light and heavy infantry units, and hence it is a fact that the speed of our projection is limited by the need to ensure our supply lines do not become overstretched. Of course, if we can end the war in one simple strike…… No, let’s not talk about a single strike. If we can end it in two weeks, we should have no problems. ——— The City itself holds large amounts of food stocks, so we can resupply there. However, if we spend any more time than that, we will have to fall back.”

Chaplain: “So the Holy Crusaders are not the strongest?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “We are, if we make the appropriate preparations, and if we do not act with negligence or complacency. On the battlefield, the worst mistake a person could make would be would be to assume victory even if there was a nine out of ten chance of winning.”

Holy Imperial General: “I also believe we should act based on the circumstances we are confronted with.”

Green Ash King: “Hmm……”

The Primarch: “Than you tell me.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Our forces will march to the front of the City, where we will establish a proper base encampment. If possible, we will prepare observation and defensive positions out of wood. From there, we will assess the surrounding terrain, and deploy in a formation which will maximise the firepower of our cannons, while giving the soldiers enough time for rest and recuperation. With successive artillery fire, we should be able to wear down the defensive fortifications of the City within a few days. Moreover, with the large sulphur mines of the Demons of the Pale, we should be able to produce our own saltpetre for this combat.”

Leader of the Hundred Paladins: “Saltpetre……?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “It is an essential ingredient in gunpowder, which forms the backbone of our army’s strength.”

Green Ash King: “It is a fairly essential item.”

The Primarch: “Are we lacking in gunpowder?”

Holy Imperial Strategist: “If we our entire force of 300,000 Crusaders were to commit to the battle, we have enough stocks to last us for eight days.”

The Primarch: “That is not a problem. Surely we can take the City of the Gate within that time.”

Chaplain: “Let’s destroy the Demons within the next eight days then.”

Leader of the Hundred Paladins: “Definitely.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “However, that is completely impossible.”

Chaplain: “This is the will of His Holiness the Primarch. In other words, this is the will of the Spirit herself!”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Please consider this. We have not even managed to conquer the City of the Gate, which means we are only at the doorstep of the Demon World. For us to take the fight to the rest of the Demon World, we are going to need access to the sulphur reserves in the old territory of the Demons of the Pale, in other words, we need that saltpetre.”

Green Ash King: “Hmm.”

Leader of the Hundred Paladins: “Is saltpetre really that necessary? We are holy warriors blessed by the Spirit of the Light. Troop fatigue? With the sweet emotion of devotion and blessed faith, we can overcome all of that.”

The Primarch: “Hehehehe…… That’s what I don’t understand. —– In front of us is the City of the Gate. With the Gate as an altar, we have our brave heroes as the key, and all we need to do is to hold on to that altar. Why do we need to capture the entire Demon World?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Huh?”

Holy Imperial Strategist: “According to the reports of our scouts, the City of the Gate is currently constructing a massive defensive fortification. They have drawn reinforcements from surrounding Demon Tribes and are preparing for our assault.”

Chaplain: “That is a good development, we now do not need to venture far to break the heart of the Demon resistance.”

Holy Imperial Strategist: “!”

Holy Imperial General: “—– That’s……”

Chaplain: “Huh?”

Holy Imperial General: “We, the Holy Crusaders, definitely have powerful military abilities, however pushing our soldiers to the very brink of their abilities is an exercise in futility. It’s true that we should be able to deliver a very strong single blow with all our forces, but do consider that there has never been a battle in which more than 100,000 soldiers have been committed in the entire history of mankind. It will likely be highly chaotic, and we cannot expect these peasant soldiers to be able to execute such coordinated formations. In the worst case scenario, our entire force could collapse.”

Chaplain: “……”

Leader of the Hundred Paladins: “Green Ash King?”

Green Ash King: “Yes.”

Leader of the Hundred Paladins: “Are you confident of your forces?”

Green Ash King: “Well, that’s why I’m the forward commander.”

Holy Imperial General: “Your Majesty!”

Leader of the Hundred Paladins: “You told me this slowly yesterday, right? The method of using the musket…… And that I could look forward to it, right?”

Green Ash King: “Well, I just said that you could leave it to me.”

Holy Imperial Strategist: (Did he just get won over?)

The Primarch: “But this is a problem, Crown Prince Marshal.)

Crown Prince Marshal: “Yeah, it really is.”

The Primarch: “Hmm. Hahahahahahaha. Are you a coward, Crown Prince Marshal?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “My orders are to support and protect the interests of Your Holiness and the Central Continent, to forever defend it’s lands and peoples. For this purpose, perhaps a little cowardice is appropriate too. Wouldn’t you agree?”

Holy Imperial Strategist: “…… Your Imperial Excellency.”

Green Ash King: “No, no. I’m sure we all understand how important the saltpetre is. While I cannot be sure about the Demon Army’s formations or people, I know that there are currently no more than 50,000 soldiers garrisoned in the City. To deal with them, even 200,000 would be more than enough.”

The Primarch: “……”

Green Ash King: “Let’s split our forces into two parts. If we go by the book, a battle on two fronts is a terrible idea, but with our abilities, I believe we can pull it off. After dedicating some forces to the protection of our hinterland and our supply lines, we can maintain 180,000 of our forces on the alert. His Imperial Highness can then command 50,000 men to take control of the erstwhile territory of the Demons of the Pale. As His Imperial Highness said, it is a lightly defended area, hence we believe 50,000 soldiers should be sufficient. On top of that, I will command 150,000 soldiers to take control of the City of the Gate. I will request that all cannons be placed under our command. Like this, we should outnumber the Demons four to one. Or at worst, three to one. Still enough for us to trample over them…… What do you think?”

The Primarch: “Good. When the City of the Gate falls, perhaps we shall see the light.”

Chaplain: “…… Very good.”

Leader of the Hundred Paladins: “I will be looking forward to it, Green Ash King. Hehehehe.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “……”

Chaplain: “What do you think, Your Imperial Highness?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “I understand.”

Holy Imperial Strategist: “……”

Green Ash King: “Tomorrow morning?”

The Primarch: “We will move out starting tomorrow. Our soldiers will need to march faster.”

Chaplain: “Holy Spirit bless us all.”

Leader of the Hundred Paladins: “All is as the Spirit wills it.”

————– The Kingdom of the Lake, the City of the Lake, the Headquarters of the Merchant’s Union

Branch Chief: “Somehow it seems we’ve managed to deplete the stocks of charcoal for the secret workshops. They have begun to issue letters of appeal to surrounding Kingdoms, invoking the name of the Crown Prince Marshal to help them.”

The Young Merchant: “Letters of appeal, huh?”

Branch Chief: “They may be termed letters of appeal, but the content is basically a thinly veiled threat, you could really say that it’s a letter of demand.”

The Young Merchant: “Hmph. That should slow them down.”

Branch Chief: “That’s right. With this, the Holy Crusaders should suffer a significant shock to their supply stocks.”

The Young Merchant: “But it seems that this will not be enough……”

Female Union Employee: “……?”

Branch Chief: “Do you have something else planned?”

The Young Merchant: “How many cities does the Union have banks in?”

Female Union Employee: “Sixty four.”

The Young Merchant: “With the Southern Alliance as our heart, perhaps we might be able to expand this to a hundred or more.”

Branch Chief: “What are you planning?”

The Young Merchant: “The chief advantage of the Holy Church is their numbers.”

Union Employee: “Of adherents?”

The Young Merchant: “That’s part of it, but the amount of branches they have is immense as well. Support is of course materialised when they call for soldiers, but on the whole it’s a wide web that encompasses every single part of politics and the economy. I would call it a network.”

Union Employee: “I don’t understand.”

The Young Merchant: “In other words, the four cathedrals represent much more than just four works of architecture. In fact, one single cathedral could have five or six times as much influence as you think.”

Union Employee: “…… Hmm.”

The Young Merchant: “One very striking example would be money orders.”

Branch Chief: “Don’t tell me you intend to disrupt the money orders system!?”

The Young Merchant: “Yes.”

Branch Chief: “That is a very great risk.”

The Young Merchant: “Indeed it is.”

Union Employee: “What risk?”

The Young Merchant: “…… As you know, a money order is a means of transferring large sums of money from one place to another. Physically moving the money is liable to all kinds of risks like delays due to weather, piracy and banditry or any other sort of accident. A caravan laden with gold is the most perfect target for any robber around. The Union has invested lots of money just to hire bodyguards for our money caravans, and that creates the logistical problem of moving such a massive convoy.”

Female Union Employee: “Right.”

Branch Chief: “There are many ways of effecting money orders. For example, you could place a guarantee at one city of one hundred gold pieces and then move to another city and collect those hundred gold pieces from the same organisation……. Technically, the money doesn’t go anywhere, but that’s a money transfer. For this to work, you will need a lot of branches for your organisation, and you will also need to have large amounts of money so people can trust that the system will work. ——- At present, apart from shifting money between small towns and villages, the only one who has that ability is the Church.”

The Young Merchant: “The Church has been using their monopoly over money transfers to make large profits. In fact, it is one of the Church’s greatest sources of revenue.”

Union Employee: “The 10% levy?”

The Young Merchant: “That’s right. Using money orders currently on the market incurs a 10% levy which goes to the Church. It’s true that indenting mercenaries to protect the money conveys which inevitably have to be used eventually is not cheap, but they still make a large profit at the end of the day.”

Female Union Employee: “I understand. Since the Union was displeased with this arrangement, we came up with our own independent banking system.”

Branch Chief: “It’s true that that was a consideration.”

The Young Merchant: “The issuing of money orders was originally the principal role of banks to begin with. It was not meant to be a system from which the Church can freely tax.”

Branch Chief: “But with the immense scale of the Church, if we were to confront them directly, we would only draw ire and attention to our existence we have so tirelessly worked to shroud and conceal.”

The Young Merchant: “Then let us make the maximum considerations. However, please try to think about it. At present, whether it’s politically, militarily, or even culturally, the Continent is facing a tremendous shakeup. Every power throughout the land is now watching and waiting with an eagle eye for an opportunity to expand their lands. In the middle of all of this, the Primarch of the Holy Church has suddenly decided to leave the board? As players, we cannot possibly allow this opportunity to slip away from us.”

Branch Chief: “Do we have a chance?”

The Young Merchant: “We do.”

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————-————————-

Explanation

Network: An economic concept by which many different parts providing directly unrelated goods or services combine to support each other and boost the efficiency of the whole. Being able to control or join the network enhances productivity.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

————- The Kingdom of Ice, the Violet Audience Room

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “Looks like you’re so busy your eyes are starting to spin round and round. This many missives!”

Seneschal: “Yes, but I have to look through them all somehow.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “This letter…… ‘The numbers of those infected with smallpox grow day on day, in these circumstances, it is almost as if the gates of burning hell themselves have opened. We plead to the Kingdom of Ice, to look upon your fellow human beings with eyes of compassion and to bestow of your medicine until my people.’”

Seneschal: “Yes…… It is a request.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “The Kingdom of Copper. How dare they? This is the country which produced those muskets which have massacred so many humans, just what sort of face is he making when he speaks of human compassion?”

Seneschal: “We’ve got his portrait, if you’d like. Our bards have managed to collect the portraits of most of the heads of state of the various countries.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “Good, I haven’t seen it. But I recall his face now. With a face like a frog, but the kind of frog that other frogs find ugly.”

Seneschal: “Precisely.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “Ah, and I expect the rest are of a similar nature.”

Seneschal: “Indeed.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “I would like to help you, but.”

Seneschal: “I will manage.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “What is this mountain over here?”

Seneschal: “It may resemble a mountain, but these are actually letters of appeal from the smaller villagers?”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “Why are all the letters in duplex?”

Seneschal: “All letters intended for the Kingdom of the Lake and the Kingdom of Branches also pass through here.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “Eh?”

Seneschal: “I am certain Your Majesty knows that the Disciple Nobleman has been working hard to centralise our communication networks.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “It seems to me that this is becoming quite unnecessary.”

Seneschal: “I see.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “Umm…… ‘hello your majesty, all the adults in our village have turned black and collapsed from smallpox. we also have no food, please save us. please.’”

Seneschal: “Hmm. This comes from a village on the borders of the Kingdom of Waves.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “You must arrange for the Templars to deliver the vaccinations.”

Seneschal: “No, please wait a moment.”

The Queen tof Ice and Snow: “Why?”

Seneschal: “There are many, many letters just like this one.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “But it doesn’t take a lot of vaccines to save a small village from smallpox, and most of all, these little children are innocent, and we can save them. Why should we not lend them every possible assistance we can, is that what the Holy Order is preaching?”

Seneschal: “No, but these twenty-four letters, all written in the same manner, came to us through the consulate in the Port of Trout of the Kingdom of Waves.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “Eh……?”

Seneschal: “According to our consulate in the Port of Trout, the Queen Mother of the Kingdom of Waves has been using the tax-free privileges of the royalty to amass a massive personal treasury in order to enrich the prosperous merchant nobility.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “……”

Seneschal: “What will you do?”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “Send a medical task force to confirm the veracity of these reports personally.”

Seneschal: “Yes…… It would be terrible if they were actually completely black.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “Enough. And this?”

Seneschal: “Mmhmm. This is from the Kingdom of Boarshead.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “Hmm. ‘That the Kingdoms of the South should so selfishly monopolise supplies of the medicine granted by the blessings of the Spirit, is completely out of the question. If you do not wish to fall prey to the deadly pikes of our army of a million courageous holy devotees, you will send medicine post haste, along with every medical secret you have known to you and beg for forgiveness.’”

Seneschal: “……. What a load of poof. With enough pipeweed, perhaps they might be able to materialise their million soldiers in their heads.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “Throw this away. Yes. Do that. It’s rubbish.”

Seneschal: “Yes.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “So the only letters worth my attention are these five?”

Seneschal: “And I thought you were uninterested in matters of diplomacy?”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “What should I do?”

Seneschal: “The Magic Guild of Magpies, what should I do about this?”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “They are looking for a candidate, but I’ll pass.”

Seneschal: “Really?”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “Yes. They want us to sell it to them for research purposes, right? I have no intention to trade the vaccination for money, and I have no gauge on their intentions.”

Seneschal: “Then…… What of assistance to the Kingdom of Rice, and to the Free Cities?”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “The Free Cities rely completely on the organisation of the shipping lanes used by the Merchant’s Union, we’ll see what they have to say about all this black gossip.”

Seneschal: “I understand.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “With regards to the Kingdom of Rice, that is something I cannot decide on my own. I will have to refer that to the council of the Union. Let’s keep this in view for now.”

Seneschal: “I understand.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “It seems that the news of a means against smallpox has come as quite a shock to the various countries…… We will have to handle this sensitively.”

———– The Kingdom of Metal, the Quarters of the Disciple Soldier

Disciple Merchant: “Hey. Long time no see!”

Attendant: “I apologise for the intrusion.”

Disciple Soldier: “How nice of you to come!”

Metal Lieutenant: “We’ll have some hot pies and wine soon, but well, come this way.”

Disciple Merchant: “Relax.”

Attendant shuffles

Disciple Soldier: “Your small disciple seems to be getting really hungry.”

Attendant: “That’s not true?”

Disciple Soldier: “Please don’t worry. When I was with our teacher, I was also hungry almost every day.”

Metal Lieutenant: “Oh? So you went through such days as well?”

Disciple Merchant: “We endured a fair amount of pain every day. And on top of that, we were young. No matter how much we ate, we would always be hungry.”

Disciple Soldier: “That’s true…… Well, that’s the life of a man.”

Disciple Merchant: “Well, I suppose that is all in the past?”

Disciple Soldier: “I hope so.”

Metal Lieutenant: “The Warrior-King of the Red Horses has arrived together with the High Prince of Branches. The Queen of the Lake and the Lords of the Free Cities will be arriving in a few days time.”

Disciple Merchant: “Is that so?”

Attendant: “What a large conference.”

Disciple Soldier: “Indeed.”

Disciple Merchant: “Once you consider the context, it really makes your head hurt.”

Attendant: “?”

Metal Lieutenant: “The Demon World…… The Subterranean World?”

Disciple Soldier: “What do I feel about it? Well, looking back at our financial situation, perhaps I should have opposed it more.”

Disciple Merchant: “……”

Disciple Soldier: “On top of that, we’ve also got the Holy Crusades to the Demon World, which is apparently wielding the sword of all humanity. Even though there was a time when they would point their muskets at us, perhaps if we protested with reason, well, that’s not exactly likely but……”

Disciple Merchant: “Nope.”

Disciple Soldier: “?”

Disciple Merchant: “My intention is for us to deploy our soldiers.”

Disciple Soldier: “What?”

Metal Lieutenant: “Really? Is that the collective decision of the Kingdom of Winter!?”

Disciple Merchant: “That’s not true. Our King, the Lone Winter King, merely said that he would think about it. It is my personal consideration that we should participate in this war.”

Disciple Soldier: “Why?”

Disciple Merchant: “Because I cannot think of anything else.”

Metal Lieutenant: “For……?”

Disciple Merchant: “If the Crusaders were allowed to achieve a great victory, they would be able to extend their influence and power, and I have no idea if we will be able to put a stop to the spread of their power. What you must not forget is that the Southern Kingdoms have accepted the designation of heretic countries. For us to continue living, we have to ensure the balance of three powers —— the Central Continent, the Demon World and ourselves in the Southern Alliance.”

Disciple Soldier: “…… Is that so.”

Disciple Merchant: “As such, I support our deployment. However, the appropriate conditions are harsh.”

Disciple Soldier: “How so?”

Disciple Merchant: “It will be very difficult to justify this war to our people. It is not a war of self-defence. In this situation, if we were to ask to people to bear this burden, I fear the chance of us fomenting open rebellion is not low. In order to prevent that, we have to come up with a proper justification. Moreover, as the Southern Alliance, our military power cannot be compared to that of the Central Kingdoms. It is crucial that we must settle the situation using our limited military force.”

Attendant: “War?”

Metal Lieutenant: “It would appear so.”

Disciple Merchant: “No, I believe that the wars of the past will be a poor strategy for us to adopt. It would be perfect if we could limit the scale of any conflict, and perhaps at the end, we could settle this with a simple bar scuffle.”

Disciple Soldier: “You’re talking in your sleep. The Holy Crusaders can simply invest massive amounts of money into crossing the Southern Frozen Sea. In which universe would they possibly agree to settling all of this with a bar scuffle?”

Disciple Merchant: “But we do not have the military forces to directly confront and suppress the three hundred thousand soldiers of the Holy Crusaders, do we?”

Disciple Soldier: “That’s true, but……”

Disciple Merchant: “That’s why it’s difficult, so difficult, maybe we should give up on it.”

Attendant: “Yeah, the Disciple Merchant has not slept for days.”

Disciple Soldier: “Neither have I.”

Disciple Merchant: “Well, I do have some measures in mind.”

Disciple Soldier: “What?”

Disciple Merchant: “Have the Kingdom of Winter stockpile provisions which we require for long expeditions. Food, winter gear, pine resin, sleighs, charcoal, winter goats —– that sort of thing.”

Attendant: “Ahem.”

Disciple Soldier: “How much?”

Disciple Merchant: “Enough for 50,000 men to be equipped for half a year of expeditions. Worth 3,000,000 gold pieces.”

Disciple Soldier: “!!”

Disciple Merchant: “Mostly, we will be able to share the burden of this. The Union seems to be receptive towards playing this game alongside us.”

Disciple Soldier: “With that alone—“

Disciple Merchant: “Our freedom of movement within the present lands has increased, hasn’t it? However, whatever I can do is still pitiable. I cannot command an army, and I do not know a method to check the ravages of this war.”

Attendant is stunned

Disciple Soldier: “——- That can’t be helped. We all have our limitations. Even His Majesty. Even the Female Paladin. On top of that, the Scholar and the Hero as well, probably.”

Disciple Merchant: “Indeed. My King also had something similar to say about this.”

Disciple Soldier: “I am a military man. Without explicit orders, I cannot simply march into the Subterranean World. However, I think……”

Disciple Merchant: “?”

Disciple Soldier: “This is truly something important we should be worried about. I am worried. Hurry! We may not be able to make it! I seem to be hearing such whispers coming from somewhere distant and far away.”

Disciple Merchant: “……”

Disciple Soldier: “I will go to this Conference as well.”

Disciple Merchant: “I see, I have also made plans to be there.”

Disciple Soldier: “We must do our utmost.”

Disciple Merchant: “Which isn’t very much. But I understand. I will support you.”

Disciple Soldier: “Thank you.”

———— The Kingdom of Metal, the Palace, the Conference of the Southern Alliance

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “——- Our Conference must focus on tackling the issues as highlighted before.”

The Warrior-King of Red Horses: “I see.”

The Sage-King of Reeds: “Mmm.”

The Queen of the Lake: “Definitely.”

The Prince of Branches: “I agree.”

Lord of a Free City: “I understand……”

The King of Winter: “In that case, let me try to highlight each of our concerns. The Crusader army heading towards the Demon World numbers three hundred thousand. This is an unparalleled military force. Of course, victory and defeat on the battlefield is not a matter of numbers alone, however, it seems that the Demon World is about to face a truly frightening wind of destruction.”

Butler: “That is correct.”

Disciple Merchant: “……”

Disciple Soldier: “……”

The Warrior-King of Red Horses: “But, what do you expect us to do about that?”

The Prince of Branches: “To begin with, all we currently have is a Peace Agreement with the Demons, it’s not like we have a pact of mutual defence or anything. There is no basis for us to offer them any sort of assistance in this matter.”

The Queen of the Lake: “Exactly.”

Lord of a Free City: “However, following our agreement with the Demon World, I have reports which suggest that we are experiencing an economic upturn.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “That should not be ignored.”

The Prince of Branches: “To begin with, I have reason to doubt the veracity of these reports.”

Lord of a Free City: “I cannot ignore this allegation. Are you attempting to imply that you do not trust the research and information of the Free Cities!?”

The Prince of Branches: “That is not what I said. However, how can you say so easily that the increase in customs revenue may not arise from other sources? Of course, customs revenue has increased following the opening of the Demon World for trading and commerce. Our Principality can confirm this as well. However, at the same time, I can also say that the Crusaders have also been involved in preparing for war. As such, there is reasonable evidence to suggest that the increase in customs revenue, and hence the increase in trade and commerce may be a direct result of the war itself as well.”

Lord of a Free City: “That’s……”

The Sage-King of Reeds: “Mmm. It has long been noticed that commerce increases in times of war. The Prince of Branches is very persuasive……”

The Queen of the Lake: “……”

Lord of a Free City: “However, this and that are—“

The Sage-King of Reeds: “We may have consolidated the strength of the South, but despite this, our people are still not very strong. Should we not be devoting ourselves to strengthening? For this purpose, somewhat ironically, the deployment of the Holy Crusaders is a great opportunity, is it not? I imagine that this is a thought many of the nobles have as well.”

Disciple Merchant: “Your Majesty.”

The Lone Winter King: “Hmm. It seems my financial minister has something to say.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “Mmmm.”

Disciple Merchant: “Dear representatives of the various countries, allow me to speak from an economic and financial standpoint when I speak of the deception that comes with imagining that war can bring economic vitality. Looking at the big picture, such a phenomenon does not exist.”

The Warrior-King of Red Horses: “Truly? Actually, isn’t this an ancient saying?”

The Prince of Branches: “What do you mean?”

Disciple Merchant: “Of course, within a limited time period, within a limited sector, such a phenomenon could occur. However, please consider this coolly. Any war of any sort requires the expenditure of resources. We will require food, weapons, clothing, winter gear, transportation equipment, fuel and firewood, other perishables, and now with the introduction of muskets, we will also require gunpowder as well. Musketballs are made of metal. And the smelting of all that ammunition requires double the consumption of charcoal. According to my estimations, producing four musketballs requires a total of one silver piece.”

The Prince of Branches: “And that’s why the economy gets a boost. By us demanding these resources, the economy gets paid for them.”

Disciple Merchant: “That is only true for a limited time period. Looking at it from the big picture, we are merely expending society’s wealth and resources within a war which creates no economic product. For example, if you bought four pigs, in two years you would have eight pigs. That is the idea behind increasing one’s wealth. Or, if five people worked to harvest grain, they would have enough to feed ten people. That is also economically viable. Compared to that, war is completely unproductive, isn’t it? Such a thing is impossible in war. In war you have to kill pigs to feed an army. Can dead pigs birth more pigs? Do the soldiers produce any tangible products?”

The Iron Fist King: “Hmm.”

The Warrior-King of Red Horses: “That’s true.”

Disciple Merchant: “Another thing to consider is what happens in the event that weakly related third-party provides the goods required to sustain war to the belligerent party. I believe you can understand this. I believe that war as an economic practice is out of the question, it is the rapid consumption of resources. As a result, we feel we can benefit from this alluring market while ensuring our country does not become a victim. In doing so, we create the phenomenon of a War-Fueled Economic Boom*.”

The Prince of Branches: “That is indeed the situation in the Southern Alliance.”

Disciple Soldier: “……”

The Prince of Branches: “As the war between the Central Continent and the Demon Army goes on, the Southern Alliance has been profiting from sales. We have received missives from the Kingdom of Copper, seeking to buy our charcoal, and other opportunities appear to be falling like autumn rain.”

Lord of a Free City: “…… But.”

Disciple Merchant: “That’s right. I cannot disagree with that.”

Disciple Soldier: “……”

The Prince of Branches: “From an economic and customs collection standpoint, it appears that we can stand at the sidelines and still reap the benefits.”

The Lone Winter King: “But.”

Disciple Soldier: “Since when has the Southern Alliance become an outsider in this conflict? Have you forgotten how many of us fell at the Plains of Scilla to the muskets of the Crusaders? I do not mean that we should send our troops to seek revenge. But—– to begin with, are we really the third party? Are we not a belligerent party merely not currently involved in the war? We are lucky that we are not currently under assault. That is why we can open such conferences. However, exactly who is guaranteeing our safety?”

The Warrior-King of Red Horses: “Hmm.”

Disciple Soldier: “Let us ignore the reasons why those muskets are not currently pointed at us. No, the fact is there are reasons, but those are related to the whims of the Central Kingdoms and the Church. The Demons of the Pale were an incredible challenge to our Three Kingdoms. During that period, there was a chance that our entire army could have been annihilated. However, at present the Holy Crusaders are twelve times there are number. This is not a mere military threat. This is a threat to all the people in the Southern Alliance; every single person from the old man sitting by his hearth, to the newborn baby. If only 25,000 Demons of the Pale nearly annihilated our entire army, it would not be difficult for 300,000 Holy Crusaders to purge the entirety of our lands.

I do not wish to exaggerate the threats we are facing, but I am a soldier. When I observe threats of such a nature, I cannot put them aside, I have to voice my concerns. I plead with each of you to reconsider. I understand that it will not be an easy decision to march to save the Demon Army, I ask that you put that aside and consider the true cost of this war.”

The Prince of Branches: “……”

Disciple Merchant: “Right. I have just one more thing I would like to present to you all.”

Attendant: “Yes!”

Disciple Merchant: “Right, the present Holy Crusades is the furthest military expedition and also the largest scale expedition in the history of human warfare. Moreover, with the introduction of muskets, the present war has resulted in a never-before-seen sort of logistics expenditure. Musketmen are really just serfs who have undergone very short-term basic infantry training. For this reason, while it may be very cheap to raise large numbers of them as compared to knights and mercenaries, in reverse, as the war goes on, they are prone to consuming large amounts of food and during the conflict itself, they expend huge amounts of gunpowder and ammunition. On to the next diagram.”

Attendant: “Yes!”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “!?”

The Prince of Branches: “What!?”

Disciple Merchant: “This is my projection of the logistical expenditure of the Holy Crusaders.”

The Warrior-King of Red Horses: “So……”

Disciple Merchant: “Indeed. What an incredible expenditure. I myself have never seen such a large expenditure in any war, even though these are my predictions. In a month, they will expend three million gold pieces. These are taken as levies. If the war ends quickly, which is to say that the Crusaders are able to achieve complete victory within a month from now, the profit they will accumulate from taxes and dividends through the acquisition of Demon lands as well as compensation from the Demon Tribes may be sufficient to repay this. However, in the long term they will exhaust their available resources. Another thing to consider is that they may enact a military tax, just like they did eight generations ago in the Western Dynasty. This is an emergency measure aiming for a one time effect. However, in order to launch this campaign, it is a fact that they have taken productive male labourers from every country and drafted them into the musket corps of the Holy Crusaders. As a result, whether it be wheat farming, forestry or fishery, every agricultural domain will suffer a drop in productivity. Under these conditions, it will be impossible to sustain any regime of heavy taxation, and hence their abilities are limited.”

Disciple Soldier: “……”

Disciple Merchant: “Of course, dead people don’t eat any food, but while expenditure on food may go down as the war goes on, that does not mean that expenditure as a whole decreases. Rather, increasing amounts will need to be spent on medical equipment and maintenance of general equipment. As a result, reducing the maintenance of the army may become the primary goal of the army itself. No matter what, an army is meant to fight, so basically an army which is not fighting is just pointlessly wasting food. In this situation, the war will most likely be turned against another target…… If you consider this, the situation I have just described will lead to our safety being in jeopardy.”

The Sage-King of Reeds: “In the long term, what do you feel is the chance that we will not be embroiled in this conflict?”

Disciple Merchant: “Zero. It is out of the question. We have accepted our designation as heretics after all.”

The Prince of Branches: “……”

Lord of a Free City: “Then this is our annihilation?”

Disciple Merchant: “No, that is not true. While I feel our chance of not being involved in the conflict is zero, that does not mean that we are only limited to military means.”

The Sage-King of Reeds: “Then, what of our military means?”

Disciple Merchant: “Right.”

Disciple Soldier: “If we keep our head down, we can drain them of 30%.”

The Sage-King of Reeds: “30%……”

Disciple Soldier: “But this refers to 30% of that immense treasury gathered from the countries enslaved to the Holy Empire and the Church.”

The Warrior-King of Red Horses: “This may be quite a one-sided view, but it is earnestly how I think. To begin with, our alliance is formed from us getting together to oppose the tyranny of the Central Continent, to oppose their domination. If we had intended to retreat, we would never have even joined in the first place.”

The Sage-King of Reeds: “……”

The Queen of the Lake: “That’s right. If we search for a road which leads to our survival.”

The Lone Winter King: “What should we do, your Majesties?”

Disciple Merchant: “……”

Disciple Soldier: “……”

The Sage-King of Reeds: “But, three hundred thousand. Three hundred thousand? My wise rulers, please consider. Just what can we do against such numbers? We are no more than a flock of sheep before an enraged dragon.”

The Warrior-King of Red Horses: “We are not sheep.”

The Lone Winter King: “That’s right. We are humans. We are not blind sheep like the Church says.”

The Metal Fist King: “We the Kingdom of Metal believe that we should continue to debate whether or not to send soldiers to the Demon World. At the very least, we have been able to establish dialogue with a section of the Demon World. If we solve this through military means, while this may be appropriate now; in reverse, if we managed to solve this through dialogue, to the extent that our relationship will not be coloured by a backdrop of military affairs, I believe their ears may be more inclined to listen. Furthermore, we the Kingdom of Metal were one of those who stood on the stage and faced the assault of the Crusader musketeers. Some say that our enemies are the Demons, but it was those Demons who rescued us from the brink of defeat. I do not mean to dredge up old events, but we are not a country who will forget our benefactors. I believe the citizenry will understand this as well. Hence, our view is to send out the troops.”

The Warrior-King of Red Horses: “Our Kingdom shares the same view. We understand the threat posed by the Holy Crusaders. If we want to solve the issue, we have to act as soon as we possibly can.”

The Queen of Ice and Snow: “Unfortunately, my Kingdom is unable to support such a proposal. To begin with, we do not have the military force to support the operation. However, we also understand the threat posed by the Holy Crusaders. We suggest that we try to seek alternative methods.”

Lord of a Free City: “We choose to abstain. To begin with, as a free trading city, we do not have the ability to muster a military force. However, we have no intention of abandoning our present independence. We will do our best to provide naval transports, money and other material and logistics support as the situation deems necessary.”

The Queen of the Lake: “I see. I will consider the commitment of the Royal Knights of the Lake, as well as our Mage Battalions. Of course, we also aspire for a solution which will enable us to avoid conflict.”

The Sage-King of Reeds: “At present, my Kingdom does not have the capacity to commit troops. However, I may suggest that across the Southern Alliance, we can attempt to muster for volunteers. However, however…… What will we do after we gather our troops? Will we not only incense the Holy Crusaders, and jeopardise the fates of all our Kingdoms?”

The Lone Winter King: “…… That’s.”

Disciple Merchant: “……”

The Lone Winter King: “The world which the Southern Alliance hopes for. Is not a world of consolidation and domination. What we hope for is peace and independence throughout the world. Within the South, we want freedom and liberty…… We cannot tolerate those who would challenge this conviction. From a practical point of view, we will not be able to prosper as long as there are those who would challenge our right to exist. If we allow those around us to be subsumed, we will ourselves be subsumed eventually, and we will be weak and epheremal.

The Scholar told me something I often think about and I believe this should be a beacon and a guide for the Kingdom of Winter and the Southern Alliance. That is, that ‘it will not end’.”

The Sage-King of Reeds: “It will not end……”

The Lone Winter King: “Assuming that our Kingdoms are destroyed, but the earth is not. As long as the rivers and the mountains are still there, as long as the four seasons continue to rotate, then the people shall continue to reside in this land. They will live as they have lived…… Whether as citizens of a defeated country, or as citizens of a victorious country. As the Kingdoms change, they merely change rulers; as the Kingdoms stay the same, they merely transition to the next generation of rulers. As time goes by, the world continues. Nothing ends. We should consider the fact that it will not end.”

Disciple Merchant: “It will not end……”

The Lone Winter King: “That is correct. It may not be the best of circumstances. However, as a King, as a leader, I must make preparations for this. That is my conviction. I also believe that we must light the way for the Southern Alliance to advance. If the world is not going to end, then at the very least, to strive for a better tomorrow, we must continue to fight. Somehow or another, we will not end, and neither will the Central Continent, or the Demon World. An unending world where suffering and conflict are allowed to exist, to me that is something too dangerous to tolerate.

War is a bad thing. Especially because even war cannot end the world. It helps to spread misery and suffering across the world. However, I must look beyond what is good and what is bad, I must defend my country. To defend oneself, we sometimes have to do things that transcend binary morality. In order to minimise the damage to my country, the Kingdom of Winter is in favour of dispatching troops. But this must be done for the purpose of freeing our future from dark clouds. This mobilisation must be one pivot of a broader political settlement.”

The Queen of the Lake: “That may be so…… But the realistic problem is that the military force we are able to muster will never be able to defeat the 300,000 strong army of the Holy Crusadeers.”

The Lone Winter King: “That is why we must plan the scale of our involvement very carefully. For this, each of us knows our own countries best. We must research into what form of support and how many soldiers we will be able to provide to the expedition. I would like to request a preliminary report to be made available by this evening. As for the Commander-in-Chief, I would like to recommend the Iron Fist King. Does anyone oppose this?”

The Warrior-King of Red Horses: “It would be strange if you were to propose anybody else to helm our frontlines. I know him to be a meticulous and dedicated character.”

The Sage-King of Reeds: “I have no objections.”

The Prince of Branches: “The tales of his great heroism have been told for a very long time.”

Lord of a Free City: “Definitely no objections.”

Disciple Soldier: “So it seems we will be sending our troops out. I suppose I’ll have to head to the Demon World soon.”

Disciple Merchant: “Well, it’s not limited to just war. Of course, avoiding war would be the best strategy.”

Disciple Soldier: “That being said, how about our teacher? It would not be strange for her to join this council, actually.”

Disciple Merchant: “She may be of nobility, but she’s nobody’s retainer nor is she royalty. Don’t you think the effect of her words may be limited?”

Disciple Soldier: “Eh?”

Disciple Merchant: “Well, I’m off to see what I can do about the Holy Templars and the volunteers.”

——–The Foot of the Inferno Mountains

Boots dragging

Small Mercenary: “What’s up?”

Mercenary Archer: “Well, ahead of us lies the Inferno Mountains. On top of the gate, the words ‘Clarity in Fire’ are written. Without a doubt, this mountain pass leads to the city of the Fire Dragons.”

Elder Sister Maid: “Good eye. You spotted that really quickly.”

Mercenary Archer: “Nom the problem starts from now. The gate will no doubt be defended by guards, no matter how strong we think we are, we don’t have a chance. This is not the sort of place that a few tens of people will be able to break through.”

Small Mercenary: “What! You fool! How many lives do you think we will need to get past this?”

Mercenary Archer: “So what’s the plan?”

Elder Sister Maid: “I suppose we will need a cunning plan.”

Mercenary Survivor: “Hmm. Is it possible?”

Elder Sister Maid: “I think so.”

Mercenary Survivor: “Would you like to tell us?”

Elder Sister Maid: “No, I can’t really say……”

Mercenary Survivor: “?”

———- The Inferno Mountains, the Gate

Dragon Guard: “Halt!”

Dragon Guard: “Who goes there! State your name!”

Elder Sister Maid: “Ahhh, ahem, it’s me.”

Dragon Guard: “Ah! Your Majesty!”

Dragon Guard: “What!?”

Dragon Guard: “There is no mistaking it. Your Majesty! I saw you with my own eyes at the Kurultai.”

Mercenary Archer: “They’re calling her the Demon King. So this is what the Demon King looks like. But she hasn’t changed her look one bit!?”

Mercenary Survivor: “Wait, no…… What’s that look?”

Small Mercenary: “So she was a mage!? Why didn’t she say?”

Young Mercenary: “I’m not surprised. No matter what happens, I’m not surprised anymore.”

Elder Sister Maid: “I have come to see the Fire Dragon Lord. This is a top secret and highly urgent affair.”

Dragon Guard: “But who are those humans……?”

Elder Sister Maid: “These are my bodyguards whom I have brought with me from the Human World. If possible, we will need a place to tend to their horses. The road has been long, and the horses need to rest. We still have a long journey ahead of us as well. Perhaps you know a place?”

Dragon Guard: “Yes, I understand. Hey, let’s get her to the Fire Dragon Lord. And, look around for a place to house her imperial bodyguards.”

Elder Sister Maid: “Thank you.”

Mercenary Survivor: “Well done, milady….. I mean, your Majesty.”

Elder Sister Maid: “Don’t worry about it.”

Dragon Guard: “Then, please come this way.”

Elder Sister Maid: “Looks like we’ve solved it through dialogue. But if we hadn’t, this could have been really troublesome.”

——— The Inferno Mountains, the Temple of Rubies, the Audience Chamber

Dragon Guard: “This way, please.”

Elder Sister Maid: “Thank you.”

Dragon Guard: “My Lord! Fire Dragon Lord! The Demon King is here.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “Please come in.”

Elder Sister Maid: “This is a confidential discussion. Please leave us.”

Dragon Guard: “Yes, Your Majesty.”

Door closes

Elder Sister Maid: “…… Phew.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “Well.”

Elder Sister Maid: “I am please to meet you.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “Who are you? You look just like the Demon King, but you stink of human.”

Elder Sister Maid: “Yes. I am a human. My name is the Elder Sister Maid.”

Bows

The Fire Dragon Lord: “Is this…… a Ring of Illusion?”

Elder Sister Maid: “Yes.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “Just why have you infiltrated this place?”

Elder Sister Maid: “Firstly, I must apologise for the method I have used to gain your audience.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “Hmph.”

Elder Sister Maid: “…… You don’t seem surprised, and you don’t seem very angered.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “Over the years I have gotten used to impolite uninvited guests. That includes the Hero, when he came barging in the last time.”

Elder Sister Maid: “I sincerely apologise.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “I suppose you learnt your manners from the Chief Maid.”

Elder Sister Maid: “Yes, she was my teacher.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “I see.”

Elder Sister Maid: “I learnt from the Chief Maid and the Demon King. You could say I was one of their disciples…… To begin with, I am not their official disciple, but I have had the opportunity of receiving their guidance.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “Mmm.”

Elder Sister Maid: “I sincerely apologise for this, but the message of this audience which I have come to you for, is not based on the orders of the Demon King, nor is it based on any of her teachings, and I do not come with any official credentials. At present, I am operating in line with, but independently from the Demon King.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “So who or what do you work for?”

Elder Sister Maid: “My own ideals.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “I certainly hope so. Hahaha.”

Elder Sister Maid: “?”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “I may be pathetic, but I am the Fire Dragon Lord. I am the head of one of the Great Tribes in the Demon World, the Patriarch of the Four Dragon Races. It is important to keep in mind that my answers have quite some gravity.”

Elder Sister Maid: “Thank you very much.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “Enough with the formalities. Once I am no longer interested in you, I may just decide to bite off and consume your head. So tell me, why have you come assuming the form of the Demon King.”

Elder Sister Maid: “I would like to borrow one of the treasures of the Tribe of Dragons. Well, there’s a good chance I won’t be able to return it, so I would like to have it……”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “Really? What do you want? The Blizzard Blade? Or the Ring of the Goddess?”

Elder Sister Maid: “The Ball of Light.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “!? How does a human know of that!”

Elder Sister Maid: “……”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “Answer me. This is a top level secret of the Dragon Tribe. This is one of the eternal treasures of the Tribe of Dragons. It goes back to the first Demon Kings, it is the foundation of legends. The reason why the Tribe of Dragons is such an ancient, such a noble, and such a powerful race has much to do with the Ball of Light.

I will tell you a legend. Once a King of Dragons had the misfortune of losing the Ball of Light. He went insane and died soon after. So do you think that this is one of those things which I can so easily lend out!?”

Elder Sister Maid: “Even so, please.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “So answer, how do you know of it, human!?”

Elder Sister Maid: “…… I saw it in a dream.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “A dream?”

Elder Sister Maid: “Indeed.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “This isn’t some euphemism is it?”

Elder Sister Maid: “Of a time long past……”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “———“

Elder Sister Maid: “The Spirits were of five races. In later times, known as the Five Great Families. The ancestors of all Demons were these Spirits. The Spirits existed in a blissful utopia without conflict.           Why did they fall from such great and noble heights to become the Demons of today? That is because one of the families, the Earth Family, gave birth to something impure; and this incensed the Fire Family. This misfortune polluted the Spirit World, and it fractured into innumerable fragments like small crystal balls.

A lady of the head branch of the Fire Family offered her life to the heavens to save the suffering citizenry. She became known as the Spirit of Light, and the surviving Spirits she saved went on to become the seeds of the people today.

——- The Ball of Light is a present she left behind. But why? Why is it that while she is able to draw armies of adherents in the Human World, she is completely unknown in the Demon World? Moreover, why is it that the Church in the Surface World has the same scars of the legends as that of the Demon World? That person taught me this in the blue sea. As a human, I should have known. We humans are the descendants of that Earth Family which destroyed the utopia we used to live in. And the Demons are the descendants of the other families, who were saved by the Spirit of Light. As a result, your ancestors did not consider her to be a divine being. While she was recognised as being brave and courageous, that is completely different from being omnipotent…… She was merely seen as a great saviour, and a great and important person. That is why the Demon World does not venerate her. What probably began as great tales of admiration and gratitude, became legends…… and then myths.

However, in reverse, our ancestors did not have such forbearance. They could not endure the fact that they had themselves destroyed the utopia which they had held so dear. On top of that, they could not endure the fact that it had been a single young lady, not omnipotent nor omniscient, who had held back their transgressions and sacrificed her life for the world. As a result, in order to cope with all this, they began venerating her as a god.

However, as time went on, we began to forget all of these origins. Just as how one’s tracks get obscured when the snow falls again. While there is still some element of regret and repentance, we had forgotten the pain we could not endure, and we had forgotten our eternal gratitude. It was not because anybody was evil, or that anything had been done wrongly, but in this way the Surface World and the Subterranean World started to diverge further and further into two very different paths.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “I have never heard a story like this.”

Elder Sister Maid: “Yes.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “Am I supposed to behave your creative license as a poet?”

Elder Sister Maid: “If possible. But it was not my purpose that you believe me so that you will lend me the Ball of Light.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “Why, then?”

Elder Sister Maid: “Because it is a very sad thing for just one person to know.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “Are you not afraid? Are you not scared to lose your life?”

Elder Sister Maid: “I’m scared. I’m terrified… I was born into poverty. I’ve felt the death brush against the nape of my neck countless times. I’ve spent thousands of nights hugging my knees for warmth as the snow fell around me, asking myself if, when night gave way to light in the morning, I would still be alive…… However, there is something I fear more than death.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “What is that?”

Elder Sister Maid: “Something even worse than death…… That is that the people I treasure, the places I treasure, the memories I hold dear, are crushed and destroyed, trodden on and annihilated. That is my conviction. I have no time to be afraid.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “And because of that, you want the treasure of the Dragons?”

Elder Sister Maid: “…… I think that ‘The Ball of Light’ is the remains of the memories of that woman. It may be a sacred treasure of the Dragon Tribe, but at the same time, I believe it is also a part of our transient universe. It is not a permanent object. I believe you know this as well. Impermanent objects will not last forever. In order to try to accomplish something, I would like to request for the Ball of Light before this happens. That’s why, please give it to me. I will use it. In order to let everybody in the Surface World remember, the Ball of Light is absolutely essential. So that we can stop spilling the blood of our own ‘family’.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “…… Perhaps what you are saying is true.”

Elder Sister Maid: “……

The Fire Dragon Lord: “However, while your words may be persuasive, I have not yet been brought to an understanding. This is the territory of the Dragon Tribe, and I am the Khan of Dragons, the Fire Dragon Lord. As the ruler of an ancient race, I cannot so easily offer my trust to you. I have yet to see any concrete evidence that you are not acting against the interests of the Demon World.”

Elder Sister Maid: “…… But.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “At present, there are Human Armies thrusting the hand of conquest into the Demon World. Do you know of this?”

Elder Sister Maid: “Yes.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “And with those small hands of yours, you hope to bring us peace?”

Elder Sister Maid: “Yes.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “Everybody enjoys speaking of dreams they have no hopes of attaining.”

Elder Sister Maid: “It is because there is a seed of hope growing in my chest.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “Then, prove it to me.”

Elder Sister Maid: “Prove……?”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “That military might is something powerful. Just you try and stop it. When I have seen you take heroic action on our side, I will make the decision whether or not to trust you. By that one action, I will confirm whether or not you have the qualities to hold the Ball of Light. They are a pack of hungry wolves, bloodthirsty and murderous. What can you hope to achieve standing before them? A little girl like yourself could never do anything. It would be best to give up.”

Elder Sister Maid: “I’ll do it.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “Even if you go ahead and die, I won’t be fazed by such a simple act. It will take a lot more than strong language.”

Elder Sister Maid: “Once I prove it to you, I will seek your audience once again.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “I will not lend you any of my troops. You are to use whatever powers you possess and whatever friends you have to make that army retreat.”

Elder Sister Maid: “Thank you for your considerations.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “……”

Elder Sister Maid: “You told me to make them ‘retreat’. ‘Kill’ was not actually part of it. So if I am capable of making them fall back without killing them, I would not be betraying your trust?”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “If you think it is possible to accomplish such daydreams, then yes, it will be within our arrangement.”

Elder Sister Maid: “Yes.” Giggles

Elder Sister Maid: “That is something I learnt from my teacher.”

The Fire Dragon Lord: “Talking to a lady like you really does make my eyes sparkle. Just like with the Demon King, I seem to be making interesting comrades and acquaintances at every turn. To think that these old bones would still experience this.”

Elder Sister Maid: “Another one of my teachers told me this. Think after you leap. If you think a lot, your fears will only increase, and you will find yourself unable to make the leap; however, if you make the leap, you will continue. My chest is brimming with thoughts of the treasure. So that that brilliant sparkle will never be clouded, I will not allow my feet to stop.”

————- The City of the Gate, Near the South Gate, the Emergency Military Conference

Aide-de-Camp: “At present, the Holy Crusaders are encamped just eighteen kilometres from this location, at the earliest, they may strike at us the day after next. This is an incredibly massive force, so we do not have the specifics, but we believe they have two hundred thousand strong soldiers.”

The Witch-Queen of Banshees: “Two hundred thousand……”

Banshee Consul: “Hearing it once again really leaves one feeling overwhelmed.”

Beast Soldier: “However, based on the reports of several of our scouts, they have split into two forces moving in different directions. Their strength is massive, and their encampment is almost the size of our entire city, so it is difficult to ascertain.”

The Tattooed Chieftain of Fiends: “We can’t just fold our arms and look on passively.”

The Witch-Queen of Banshees: “Indeed.”

Aide-de-Camp: “……. I apologise. My Khans.”

The Witch-Queen of Banshees: “This City is a treasure of the Demon World. There is no need to apologise.”

The Tattooed Chieftain of Fiends: “If the City were to fall, it would be a simple matter to follow the course of the river, taking down the numerous trading cities along the way, and trampling over the territories of the Tribe of Fiends. This is our fight to protect ourselves as well.”

Minister: “We have just received word, the heavy infantry unit from the Tribe of Dragons has just arrived.”

Aide-de-Camp: “Understood. Allow them to rest.”

The Witch-Queen of Banshees: “But, we have but…….”

The Tattooed Chieftain of Fiends: “No more than sixty thousand in total.”

Aide-de-Camp: “While the Khans were not around, we have received an increase in the number of Beasts willing to join us in this battle. However, the total number is still not as high as we had hoped.”

The Witch-Queen of Banshees: “We no longer have any choice. At least, we have large stocks of supplies and advantageous terrain.”

Banshee Consul: “As I thought, we should sally out and fight.”

Aide-de-Camp: “Hmm……”

The Witch-Queen of Banshees: “Well. I have heard that the City has recently constructed new fortifications, however, considering that these fortifications have never even once been battle tested, I do not know how to place my confidence in them. Moreover, according to our reports, most of the Human army is not made out of regular soldiers. Especially when engaged in close quarters, their discipline is likely to devolve into chaos. If we consider this, our best chance may be to defeat them on the field.”

The Tattooed Chieftain of Fiends: “I have gathered all the talented mages from the Tribe of the Fiends to form a Magic Brigade. I believe that the Human World is yet inexperienced in defending against the battle tactics of magical combat. If we make use of this vulnerability to cause chaos, we can disrupt their numbers.”

Aide-de-Camp: “However, the Crusaders possess the musket, a weapon even the Demon King is afraid of……”

The Witch-Queen of Banshees: “It’s not that I do not understand the concerns of the Aide-de-Camp, but no matter how threatening these muskets may be, they are still experimental weapons without properly formed doctrines. No matter what, as the numerically inferior force, it is our priority to reduce our disadvantage.”

Banshee Consul: “Indeed. If we can reduce the enemy strength by a few thousand, we may be able to seize an opportunity for victory.”

Beast Soldier nods

The Tattooed Chieftain of Fiends: “What sort of formation should e adopt?”

Aide-de-Camp: “Right……”

The Witch-Queen of Banshees: “That’s tough.”

Aide-de-Camp: “Here are the Eastern Fortifications which we used previously. I am not suggesting that we hide within the fortifications, however, the surrounding terrain is easy to defend and there are numerous protective trenches. We can use the Fortification as a centre for an ambush. I would like to rely on the Fiends and the Magic Brigade for this purpose.”

The Tattooed Chieftain of Fiends: “Hmm.”

Aide-de-Camp: “On the other hand, for the formation dispatching frmo the South Gate, the centre should be entrusted to the Army of Banshees, the right wing can be formed from the Tribe of Beasts, while the left wing should be taken by the mixed force from the Tribes of Dragons, Humans and Giants. The formation can be set one and a half kilometres from the city, where we should be able to softly absorb the enemy’s main thrust.”

The Witch-Queen of Banshees: “Softly?”

Aide-de-Camp: “We will force their centre to a retreat. This time, our intention is to fully exploit the enemy’s weaknesses. If their commander is not prudent, with such low quality of troops, they m ay easily scatter. If we are able to absorb their attack in this way, we can engage the enemy forces at the centre for a protracted time. There, the Magic Brigade can concentrate their attack at the back of the front wave, causing anarchy and chaos. By biting off the enemy’s overstretched frontlines, we can decrease their numbers. If any trouble occurs, or if the enemy firepower is too strong, we can retreat inside the city gates. Beast Soldier.”

Beast Soldier: “Yes.”

Aide-de-Camp: “Please canvass for volunteers to serve as the heart of our Defensive Unit. If we are forced to a retreat, we will require covering fire from the City. These volunteer militia will not be dispatched to the frontlines, of course.”

Beast Soldier: “of course.”

Aide-de-Camp: “What do you think of this formation?”

Banshee Consul: “Seems like it might work.”

The Tattooed Chieftain of Fiends: “Yeah, if we can successfully bite off ten thousand of them, we might have a chance against the Human Crusaders.”

The Witch-Queen of Banshees: “I wonder if things will be so simple.”

Beast Soldier: “…….”

The Tattooed Chieftain of Fiends: “However, there is no room for retreat.”

Aide-de-Camp: “Yes.”

The Witch-Queen of Banshees: “Hmm.”

Aide-de-Camp: “It seems that the decisive battle will be fought the day after tomorrow. There must be couriers desperately running throughout the entire Demon World. The Demon King, who has seen the Human World, the Silver Tiger Lord and even our dirty old Commander are surely not doing nothing and watching us passively.”

The Witch-Queen of Banshees: “That’s right.”

The Tattooed Chieftain of Fiends nods

Aide-de-Camp: “Let us focus on surviving the battle we have before us.”

The Witch-Queen of Banshees: “I hope so.”

The Tattooed Chieftain of Fiends: “The City of the Gate is now under the protection of the Tribe of Fiends and the Tribe of Banshees.”

———– The City of the Gate, the Encampment of the Holy Crusader Surrounding the City

Disciple Bard: (I’m finally here. I’ve come back.)

Disciple Bard: (We’ve crossed the bridge built by the Disciple Engineer. From here to the City of the Gate is just another one or two days more…… If I were to leave the formation now, I should have no issue sneaking away in the dead of the night. This is already the Demon World. With the protection of the Spirits, this is the land of us Fairies.”

Disciple Bard: (However……”

“Hey, how is it?”

“Almost time. The battle’s about to start……”

“It’s time to show those bastards who have betrayed the Holy Spirit.”

“Finally, I can go home……”

“Yeah…… I’d love to finally eat some good food.”

Disciple Bard: (……)

Spearman of Light: “Miss Bard, are you alright?”

Disciple Bard: “Eh?”

Spearman of Light: “Are you alright? You were staring into space.”

Disciple Bard: “Ah. No. I was just day dreaming.”

Spearman of Light: “That would be good.”

Miss Bard, you are not a soldier, so you should probably head to the rear once the battle gets started.”

Spearman of Light: “That’s right. Even though it’s thanks to your encouragements that we’ve all managed to make it this far together, this is a really dangerous place for a young bard to be in.”

Auxiliary of Light: “That’s right.”

Disciple Bard: “No…… That’s……”

“What’s for today?”

“Bean soup and black bread.”

“Ahhh, I sure would love some bread without sand in it.”

“Endure!”

“I want to eat porridge with milk.”

“Don’t complain, at least we have something to eat.”

Auxiliary of Light: “Oh that’s right, I’ve been carrying it with me all this while, but how about we share some cheese.”

Spearman of Light: “Ah! I have also got some wheat with me.”

Disciple Bard: “There’s no way I could accept!”

Spearman of Light: “No, umm. Umm. It seems that we will be dispatched to the vanguard wave. We didn’t know that before.”

Auxiliary of Light: “Yeah. So, since we’re going there, they gave us just a little more food.”

Disciple Bard: “But, then–”

Spearman of Light: “We’ve heard a lot of beautiful things from you.”

Auxiliary of Light: “Yeah, you’ve really shown that to us.”

Disciple Bard: “…… Ah, ah.”

Spearman of Light: “?”

Disciple Bard: (Everyone, even though they’re going to die…… Even though they are going to stain these blue sands in a sea of red blood. Why is it that my songs, cannot…… reach anyone……)

Spearman of Light: “What’s wrong?”

Disciple Bard: “…… Nothing.”

Spearman of Light: “Please stop crying, Miss Bard.”

Auxiliary of Light: “That’s right, you can’t cry.”

Disciple Bard: (Even. Even though they’re so close, why are they so far? Why…… Why…… Why can’t I touch them?)

Spearman of Light: “Miss Bard?”

Auxiliary of Light: “Come we’ve got to get a move on.”

Disciple Bard: “No…… Thank you……. I…….”

Spearman of Light: “Yeah…….”

Disciple Bard: “I cannot fight, but, I will watch to the end.”

Auxiliary of Light: “You will watch us?”

Disciple Bard: “I will watch to the end. To the end…….”

————– The Demon World, the South, a Gusty Wasteland, the Central Encampment

The Crown Prince Marshal: “Hmm.”

Strategist: “What is it, Your Imperial Highness?”

The Crown Prince Marshal: “No. It’s almost time for the main unit to commence their envelopment of the City.”

Strategist: “Indeed it is.”

Holy Imperial General: “How will that fare?”

The Crown Prince Marshal: “Ahaha.”

Strategist: “?”

Holy Imperial General: “What is it?”

The Crown Prince Marshal: “No, it’s just that, even if this decisive battle were to go well, or were to awry, it would not have a tremendous impact.”

Holy Imperial General: “Is that so?”

The Crown Prince Marshal: “Of course, if we suffer a defeat, the conquest of the Demon World would be largely set back, but just what does defeat refer to in this case? Of course, if the entire force of a hundred and fifty thousand were to be completely wiped out, that would be a defeat; but what if we had seventy thousand remaining.”

Strategist: “It is impossible to conquer the Demon World with just seventy thousand.”

The Crown Prince Marshal: “Then what of it? If the City of the Gate were to fall, would that seventy thousand plus the elite thirty thousand I know control be sufficient? We could capture the City of the Gate, leave them as a garrison force and return to the Continent. ———- We would not have lost anything. Is that not sufficient?”

Holy Imperial General: “Not lost anything?”

The Crown Prince Marshal: “To begin with, we are outside our borders. This is not the Continent. While we may lose men, we will never lose territory. If I were to build a strong bridgehead here in the Demon World, we can slowly carve out the territory like slices of a cake. This may take some time, but that is not actually an issue.”

Strategist: “Indeed.”

The Crown Prince Marshal: “To begin with, our minimal goals were to defend the Continental territories of the Human World to the death and construct the foundations of the Thousand Year Empire. The Central Continent could become a unified political entity centred around the Holy Empire. We are fighting against heretics against this idea, the Demon Race. In the end, we will no doubt have ended on a much higher note than we began, and hence this would not have been a pointless war. And now, we have illuminated the presence of the Demon World, and cast them as a diametrically oppositional threat, regardless of the actual conflict itself, we the Holy Empire now have much more persuasive power.

This means that controlling territory in the Demon World is not actually a requirement. No, subjugation and control can be effectively carried out once the Holy Empire is the centre of the world. To begin with, the next priority is to deal with the Southern Alliance. However, in order to deal with the Southern Alliance, we need to invoke the Demon World to solidify and build up the support for the actions of the Church.”

Strategist: “The Church?”

Holy Imperial General: “In recent times, they have truly become a thorn in our side.”

The Crown Prince Marshal: “Indeed.”

Holy Imperial General: “What is Your Imperial Highness’ thoughts on this matter.”

Holy Imperial General: “Hmm…… The Holy Empire, the Central Kingdoms, no, the entire Continent and all its people are bound by the chains of faith to the Spirit of Light. Alone we are quite powerful, but with this we are massive. This Holy Crusades is a testament to that. The magnificent power of the musket, this pace of training and development; in other words, the fact that we were so cheaply able to convert serfs into a credible fighting force on the battlefield, is all due to the faith generated by the Church. Without a single set of teachings to unite us, the Kingdoms would be torn apart by ‘freedom-motivated conscripts’ or some other chaotically inspired groups. The Church is vital and important, and it is keeping our lives.”

Holy Imperial General: “So the Church is on the side of justice……?”

The Crown Prince Marshal: “Justice? That has nothing to do with it. It is just like a rock.”

Holy Imperial General: “A rock?”

The Crown Prince Marshal: “Even a rock sitting on a road side can become a divine object if everybody bows their head in its direction, right? If you polish it, it can shine; if you carve it, you can make it into the figurine of a person. Faith is nothing more than the polishing of habits, as one would polish a rock. Such things are even seen in a children’s games. —— What the Church really is, is ‘time’.”

The Crown Prince Marshal: “Or you could say, the length of a prayer. History, as it is built and compiled, is the backdrop of the true nature of the Church. Thousands of years, hundreds of years of history have been interpreted by the Church as right or wrong. Justice is the act of separating superficial conflicts from the tendency of situations, in other words, propriety. If things are done for a right reason, then of course, people will be able to feel the roots of the argument. That is Justice. ——- So, just where is the source of this propriety? If you asked me, that is ‘time’. Or you could also call it history. Standing at the present day, the older things are, the more right they seem. Quite simply, the longer things continue, the more right they are. Because it is ancient, it is proper. And the defence and maintenance of this propriety is to the gross benefit of us in the Holy Empire…… The Thousand Year Empire is not just a utopia we see when we close our eyes. If we are one day able to control what is proper and what is not, that will be our compass to the truth.”

< Chapter 5                                                                                                                                                                                                              Chapter 7 >

12 thoughts on “Volume 4 Chapter 6

  1. Thank you for this very interesting chapter!

    “Am I supposed to behave your creative license as a poet?”: I believe this should be “believe” instead of “behave”.

  2. Pingback: Chapters Completed in Recent Weeks (Updated 29/6/15) | NanoDesu Light Novel Translations

  3. We’ve missed you! Welcome back…
    So Big Sis Maid will try to save the world proving that there is no God… What a fearsome girl…

  4. Pingback: Chapters Completed in Recent Weeks (Updated 6/7/15) | NanoDesu Light Novel Translations

  5. Pingback: Chapters Completed in Recent Weeks (Updated 13/7/15) | NanoDesu Light Novel Translations

  6. Pingback: Chapters Completed in Recent Weeks (Updated 20/7/15) | NanoDesu Light Novel Translations

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