The general of the Crusaders’ noble faction, Count Bergunt, is feeling impatient.
「– When will the demons’ rebellion die down! What is Liuchrome doing? Isn’t he taking a course that will intensify the rebels’ actions rather than suppress them?」(Bergunt)
Because of the rebellions caused by the remnants of the Daidalos army all over the region, Bergunt is unable to give the go signal to take the Galahad Fort.
The Alzas Fort has already been completed, and soldiers and materials have been replenished. Preparations for war are being made. Or rather, they have already been made.
「Our army has taken responsibility for the suppression of the rebellions that occurred in the western region of Daidalos, near Alzas. It was only a disorderly mass of unintelligent demons, after all, so our losses were minor –」
It costs money to even move an army. However,『time』is more precious than a small amount of war funds.
「… There has already been a large deviation from the original invasion plan. The Crusaders’ flag should be flying at Spada’s royal castle by now, never mind Galahad! Because of the insolent demons running rampant, we have not set out foot out of Alzas!」(Bergunt)
Such foolishness, Bergunt thinks as he scratches his head in irritation through his neatly-combed, dark-green hair.
「Apparently in this eastern region of Pandora where Daidalos lies, a considerable amount of snow falls in the winter. We might see the first snow of the season in around a month.」
Bergunt is in such a foul mood that his subordinates would hesitate to approach him, but the voice talking to him is doing so in an incredibly light tone.
「What kind of careless things are you saying, Bishop Gregorius-dono! It will be too late, far too late if we wait for spring!」(Bergunt)
The reason this man is giving a faint smile, as if he hasn’t read the mood at all, is because he holds the position of Bishop, which is superior to Bergunt’s position of Count.
Bishop Gregorius, who is in charge of the large army that has been dispatched to Pandora by Cardinal Mercedes, narrows his already-narrow, foxlike eyes as he gives an indifferent laugh.
「It’s fine, we can simply attack during the winter without waiting for spring to come, can’t we?」(Gregorius)
As the Bishop speaks irresponsible words as if talking about someone else’s problem, Bergunt’s voice grows even angrier.
「Attacking a fort on a snowy mountain in the middle of winter, even if our enemies are mere demons, would be beyond foolish!」(Bergunt)
Does the Bishop not know what the words “difficult winter” mean? Even a first-year student at a knights’ school would understand the dangers of conducting war during winter.
「But if there is no time, then we do not have a choice, do we? If we stay here and wait for spring, we would preserve our troops, but I wouldn’t be so sure about your head.」(Gregorius)
Ultimately, this is the reason Bergunt is so concerned about time.
Bergunt has not come to Pandora on an expedition by himself. The noble families of the Sinclair Republic colluded and dispatched him as an ally to the army, so that they aren’t simply obeying the Church that has successfully occupied Daidalos.
What the noblemen of the Sinclair Republic desire is a swift occupation of another nation’s territory, just like how the Crusaders, led by the Seventh Apostle Sariel, forced Daidalos to surrender with a single maneuver. There are various reasons and purposes behind this, but in short, there is no mistaking that all of them are born from the wretched human desire of wanting profits as soon as possible.
Count Bergunt was aware of this; in fact, it was he who promised that things would end quickly when he became the general.
And so, he took the burden of the noblemen’s expectations on his own shoulders and came to Pandora, bringing an army large enough to capture forts.
However, if he waits until next year’s spring, that would mean that over half a year after his arrival, he would have only made preparations for battle without any results to show for it. No matter what reasons gives, they wouldn’t satisfy the noblemen of his country.
There is no doubt that Bergunt would be dismissed for being incompetent and a new general, another nobleman proud of his skill in battle, would take his place. His successor would take the Alzas Fort that Bergunt has poured his blood, sweat and tears into building, as well as the tens of thousands of unharmed troops and the stockpiled military supplies, and quickly begin the battle to capture the Galahad Fort.
There wouldn’t be any meaning in that. Making all the preparations and then having the good part taken by someone else could be called the work of a servant, no, a slave.
He is proud that he has made perfect preparations for capturing the fort, but nobody acknowledges the value of his work. Without victory in battle, his abilities and achievements will never be recognized.
「Kuh… I suppose it means that there is no choice but to begin now after all…」(Bergunt)
It is too dangerous to simply leave the demons’ rebellions. In the worst-case scenario, the Alzas Fort might be taken just as all efforts are put into the invasion.
If things turned out that way, not only would Bergunt’s army be annihilated after being trapped between the remnants of Daidalos’s army and Spada’s army, but in the worst-case scenario, the demons would recapture Alzas and use it as a base to plot a comeback.
In other words, the Crusaders’ occupation of Daidalos would be at risk. That would be damage that could not be passed off and forgiven as the mistakes of a single general.
However, if he sat here and waited, he would be unable to avoid his own ruin no matter what. With that being the case, the clear choice was to take a risk and bet on chance.
It is a bitter decision, but a look of determination appears on Bergunt’s face.
「Ahaha, what are you so flustered about, Count Bergunt? I have taken the effort of coming all the way out here to solve your troubles, haven’t I!」(Gregorius)
Gregorius literally laughs away Bergunt’s resolve. His eyes are as if he is looking at a young man suffering in worry over trivial things.
「I have heard of the『White Sacrament…』However, there is no way that borrowing questionable soldiers created through questionable experiments could form the basis of a solution.」(Bergunt)
The two of them are currently in the fourth research laboratory of the Church’s research organization, the『White Sacrament』, that was built using the Geofront of the Media Ruins located in the outskirts of Daidalos.
This crude room made of hard stone is inadequate for hosting high-class individuals like a Bishop and a Count, but considering that it was originally part of a Dungeon, it is actually quite hospitable.
The chairs that they are sitting and facing each other in, as well as the tables upon which documents have been scattered, have been designed with practicality in mind; the room doesn’t have a single decoration.
In fact, it is the Bishop’s sparkling robe and the Count’s smart military uniform that look flamboyant in this pointlessly large room that can hardly be called a drawing room.
Even so, Bergunt has made the long journey from the Alzas Fort with the aim of borrowing the soldiers called the『Divine Soldiers』developed by the『White Sacrament』in order to augment his forces as much as possible.
But then again, he doesn’t have great expectations in the fighting abilities of the Necromancers’ Servants, Summoners’ Familiars and puppet soldiers that he doesn’t really understand, all created by hard-headed researchers.
He wouldn’t have even come if Gregorius hadn’t insisted on it.
「Please, be at ease, Count Bergunt.」(Gregorius)
Illuminated by light magic that emphasizes the dimness of the room, Gregorius speaks to the Count in the gentle tone of a saint addressing his lost sheep.
「The demons’ rebellion will soon come to a complete end.」(Gregorius)
「… How can you say that so confidently?」(Bergunt)
「The purpose of the recent rebellions and riots is not the recovery of the capital, but the rescue of Garvinal’s orphans – in other words, Daidalos’s princes – who were being held here in the fourth research laboratory. Well, that plan has already fallen apart with the failure of the attack that happened just a few days ago.」(Gregorius)
「No, but… The remnant army should have considerable numbers; is it not a little too optimistic to think that they will have been broken after repelling one attack?」(Bergunt)
「No, no, they really have been almost annihilated. The ones who attacked this place were elite soldiers who formed the rebel army’s core. A gathering of the Daidalos army’s top-ranking officers. Let’s see, I would say that there were roughly two thousand of them, perhaps.」(Gregorius)
With two thousand elite soldiers as the main force, as well as the diversionary units running rampant in each region – Bergunt immediately understands, realizing that this matches his predicted numbers for the enemy’s hidden forces.
Even if that isn’t the case, if all of the former generals leading the rebellion have been killed, the rebellion’s organization will certainly collapse. The rebellion will truly become nothing more than disorderly masses.
「Still, I have not heard this information before…?」(Bergunt)
「These are very recent events. And the ones who fought to defend the research laboratory, the guards, adventurers and, well, the『White Sacrament』organization itself, have not provided much information on this matter, which is a large part of the reason as to why you have not yet heard about it. In fact, they tell jokes, such as that Judas repelled the attack almost single-handedly, with straight faces! Ahaha! In any case, I think that it will be officially publicized that the enemy was exterminated not long afterwards by the Crusaders’ main army, led by Her Excellency Sariel. I suppose the『White Sacrament』has sold the achievement to the Crusaders in order to have their research proceed more smoothly.」(Gregorius)
As Bergunt continues listening, Gregorius explains in a fluent, well-expressed tone that the corpses of almost two thousand Daidalos soldiers will be used as research materials here and that information regarding the rebel army has already been drawn out from the captured leaders, among other things. He no longer has any doubt regarding the rebel army’s destruction.
「… I see, I have started to see that there is a chance.」(Bergunt)
The rebellions and rioting in Daidalos will soon die down completely. Bergunt’s anxiety about the future vanishes.
However, if the invasion were to begin now, it would barely be in time – no it would already be quite harsh.
Unless the enemy is taken largely by surprise, it is easy for an siege to become a long, drawn-out battle. If one were to look through Sinclair’s military history, they would find several cases where sieges continued for years.
If the fort is not captured quickly in the initial attack, there is a risk that it will be prolonged to some extent. If a standoff situation arises, winter will arrive in no time at all, and the soldiers will be trapped in the white prisons known as the blizzards of the Galahad Mountain Range.
「That is not all that I have to say. I have not simply been put in charge of Cardinal Mercedes’s precious, precious soldiers as a mere Bishop. It is not worthy of boasting about, but I do have some knowledge regarding battle despite my appearance –」(Gregorius)
「Hmm, if you are saying this much, then I suppose that means that you have seen through my worries?」(Bergunt)
「Yes, indeed. In fact, you see, I have made enough preparations that we can continue a siege even if it snows.」(Gregorius)
Bergunt can almost hear the smile forming on Gregorius’s face.
「Are you aware that Daidalos has started wars against the neighboring nation of Spada on multiple occasions?」(Gregorius)
「Well, as much as an average person is. I have heard that the Dragon King called Garvinal or something had an ambition to unite the continent. To rule with military power alone is the epitome of foolishness.」(Bergunt)
「But he was serious. That is why preparations truly are in place to take the nation of Spada.」(Gregorius)
「… It cannot be.」(Bergunt)
「Because of the Dragon King Garvinal’s repeated defeats, the human prime minister who was his confidant – ah, this person has already committed suicide – but in any case, Garvinal listened to his proposal and prepared something. That thing was a guaranteed supply chain that is necessary for drawn-out battles.」(Gregorius)
Garvinal was the king of demons that the people of the Sinclair Republic imagined him to be.
Not only was he a member of the powerful and fearsome Dragon race, but the aspect of him that caused him to obsess over『old methods of battle』, such as one-on-one combat between the generals in the deciding battle, was particularly accurate to the people’s imagination.
There were all kinds of things to take advantage of. That was why the battles against Spada were lost.
「This included preparations for war during the winter.」(Gregorius)
However, Garvinal apparently ignored his own principles and listened to the admonitions of the prime minister.
If the Crusaders’ invasion had come a year later, Daidalos would likely have conducted the first ever modern siege in its history.
「I hypothesized that the reason Daidalos has maintained its highways so thoroughly for a nation of demons is not only for marching, but to ensure that supplying and transportation would go smoothly. There are also fur coats, gloves and boots – winter equipment for Daidalos’s soldiers. Fire-element magic barriers that emit heat over wide areas were also researched to maintain warmth. Ah, that’s right, there were also white-furred Dortoths to remove snow. Well, I must say, demons do come up with some quite interesting ideas.」(Gregorius)
Gregorius’s revelation exceeds Bergunt’s expectations. As Bergunt listens, the chances of a successful war being conducted in the winter become greater. Though in the depths of his heart he holds the demons in contempt, from what he has heard, it seems that they were quite thoroughly prepared.
An unexpected fortune – no, this could even possibly be the guidance of the White God. Now that he recalls, the Seventh Apostle Sariel said this to him.
「I also wish for the attack on Spada to begin soon. May the god’s divine protection be with you, Count Bergunt.」(Sariel)
Yes, there is no mistake that this was an omen. It would be nothing more than a cliché phrase if spoken by a mere priest, but when spoken by an Apostle, someone who is closer to the god than humans, it would not be strange for the『god’s divine blessing』to truly be granted.
A short while ago, Bergunt was feeling like he had been driven into a corner, but now he begins to think that the perfect chance has been promised to him.
「Thank you very much for this wonderful information, Bishop-dono. Not only do I see a chance, I can clearly see hope now.」(Bergunt)
「Oh no, hahaha. It is much too early for you to be thanking me, Count Bergunt. The reason I have invited you here is because I wanted to introduce you to a certain something. With that in mind, how about looking over here?」(Gregorius)
Is there something else? Hearing the Bishop’s incredibly confident tone, Bergunt willingly raises his expectations further.
「Normally, Bishop Judas, who actually developed this, would be boasting about it. But as he is currently absent, allow me to introduce and explain this to you. Now then, please look –」(Gregorius)
As Gregorius speaks in an exaggerated tone, he claps his hands lightly.
For the sake of secrecy, there is not a single other person in the room, not even a researcher.
But it seems that Gregorius did indeed give a proper signal; there is a click and the sound of whirring machinery echoes.
In the next instant, there is a dull, high-pitched sound, as if a rusty iron door is opening, as one wall of the room begins sliding slowly.
When Bergunt was young, he once ventured into a ruins-type Dungeon as part of his training. Gimmicks where walls move like this are commonly seen in ancient ruins containing ancient magic that is impossible to replicate in the modern era.
A memory of failure, the incident where his party accidentally set off some kind of mechanism and was separated by a moving wall, suddenly flashes through his mind.
However, this memory from the past quickly vanishes from his brain. Beyond the wall that has moved is an unbelievable sight.
「C-could it be… This is…?!」(Bergunt)
There is an enormous, steel person standing there.
A cylindrical body, short legs and moderately long arms. A single large, red Mono-Eye shines in its head. It closely resembles the work Golems that were used for the construction of the Alzas Fort.
However, its size is abnormal. The smaller of the work Golems that Bergunt was accustomed to seeing on-site are two meters in height, and even the largest would barely be five meters tall at most. But the Golem on the other side of the shifted wall is easily taller than ten meters. It is twice – no, possibly three times the size of the work Golems.
Though Bergunt can only make rough estimates, the researchers restlessly walking about its enormous legs are perfect for making comparisons, giving him a clear impression of its overwhelming size.
However, the most surprising thing is that there are numerous such Golems lined up next to each other.
The fact that this room is far above the space where the Golems are lined up, to the point that Bergunt is looking down on them, tells him that this room is around five or six stories tall.
He has a clear view of them and sees that there are four rows of six Golems lined up horizontally, twenty-four in total.
「What do you think? Quite a magnificent view, isn’t it, to see the『Ancient Golems』lined up like this. They are large, aren’t they? They are cool, aren’t they? If you are a man, you must surely feel the romance in large things!」(Gregorius)
Giving exaggerated nods, Gregorius shamelessly offers his own impressions. However, Bergunt doesn’t have the composure to be concerned about that.
His deep-green eyes only see the overwhelmingly enormous metal bodies that are giving off a dark-gray luster.
「These were all excavated here in the Media Ruins. The excavation of half of them is already complete, while the other half was apparently discovered by Bishop Judas in a hidden storage chamber. I am sure that Garvinal also considered using these, but it seemed that this placed a heavy burden on Daidalos’s mages. I must say, if there were twenty of these in the battle of Goldran, that battle would have been lost.」(Gregorius)
This is a joke that can be made because victory was already claimed in that battle.
However, it is not the mages of Daidalos who were unable to activate the Golems that should be insulted, but the technological might of the『White Sacrament』, which achieved this in mere months, that should be praised.
The fact that there is light in those Mono-Eyes means that Mana, the source of the Golems’ energy, flows through their bodies. It is proof that they are ready to be activated.
「I want you to watch for the two months leading up to their use in real battle, while we experiment with their operations and movements, and prepare pilots. Right around the beginning of the Month of Gloom, a considerable amount of snow will have piled up, but if we can conduct a siege with this many Golems, I am sure that our chances of victory will be sufficient.」(Gregorius)
「… Is this really alright?」(Bergunt)
It seems that Gregorius is not foolish enough to ask him, “Is what alright?” Quick on the uptake, he gives the response Bergunt wants.
「Bishop Judas has already promised that these Ancient Golems will be offered to aid in the Crusaders’ capturing of Spada. Yes, I have a message from him saying that he would very much like for you to work hard, Count Bergunt.」(Gregorius)
「Yes. There is the unit of divine soldiers whose final adjustments have been made, as well as an airborne unit made from Daidalos’s flying dragons, and – oh yes, Chimera soldiers made from the two thousand members of the rebel army have also apparently been prepared –」(Gregorius)
「I see, I SEEE! Fufu, fuhahahaha! I have won! With this, I can win – no, with this much military force, no amount of incompetence could cause defeat!」(Bergunt)
Bergunt is laughing loudly with a smile covering his whole face; he is no longer listening to Gregorius’s additional explanations. But even so, the Bishop smiles as if gazing upon an enlightened follower.
「It is fortunate that you are satisfied. Now then, Count Bergunt, we are counting on you for the capture of the Galahad Fort.」(Gregorius)