that thought flashed through both Ais’ and Nonoeru’s minds.
Both Ais and Nonoeru opened their eyes wide.
To them, it looked like a miracle, but for Naga, knocking down flying arrows wasn’t actually that difficult. It’s a doable feat as long one had good senses and underwent a bit of training.
Even if Naga had lost his memories, he couldn’t forget the skills acquired through his training.
However, even Naga didn’t predict this outcome.
After calling out to Yuki and knocking down the arrows, he had intended to hide himself in the trees’ shade.
Before he could react, he realized that a thin layer of water had started to float in front of him.
(What is this….Could it be that girl’s magic?!)
Taking a glimpse at his surrounding, there was Nonoeru leaning forward from a tree’s shadow, and repeatedly waving her hands in some manner.
The membrane of water blocked the next few arrows that flew towards Naga.
They pierced only halfway through before stopping suspended in the water like they were caught in a spider’s web.
“What a mysterious thing. Still, this thing called magic is truly incredible.”
At that time, Ais started her throwing attacks once more.
Several soldiers collapsed after being hit.
Even if her throws were off target, the clouds of dust caused by the stones sinking into a tree or into the ground made the enemy lose their composure while shooting. After witnessing her power and unexpected resistance, the soldiers started to scatter in confusion.
Deeming that it was no longer necessary to hide, Naga shouted once again at Yuki who was staggering on her plank while descending.
“This way, this way!”
Nonoeru created one more layer of water in order to protect Yuki’s body.
The board continued to descend directly down above Naga’s head, but it suddenly tilted and made Yuki slide completely off of it.
Naga dashed over without thinking while Nonoeru hurriedly shifted the position of the water.
Naga’s hands were outstretched as he dashed to catch Yuki’s body.
“Gyaa! what are you doing, let me go let me go let me goooo!”
Yuki fell into his arms and then started to strike him in his chest while screaming with a desperate, angry face.
“I-I got it, so don’t hit me. OwOwOw.”
Yuki thrust herself away from Naga as he put her down and stood on the ground.
“Ah, my board!”
Yuki tried to run over and get her board, but Naga stopped her by grabbing her wrist.
“W-What are you doing? If I don’t bring it back….”
“I’ll do it, so go hide between the trees.”
“Do it quickly!”
Yuki hesitated slightly then obeyed Naga’s forceful instruction.
Nonoeru who saw Naga dashing toward the board adjusted the water membrane and moved it in front of him, above his head.
Picking up the board, Naga ran back.
“Everyone, please hide!”
At Nonoeru’s shout, Ais immediately ceased her throwing and took cover in a tree’s shadow.
Naga didn’t grasp her intention, but he nonetheless understood that she had some sort of a plan, and quickly dove inside the forest, between the trees.
“Oh water, rise, oh water, rise. Become a spear, kill the enemy, pierce through them. Water Spear Thrusting”
As he watched her hands gesture strangely, the water shield undulated in the air and began to split. Numerous small balls of water floated in midair and began to grow thinner and longer.
The water spears burst forward.
The soldiers that had been firing at Yuki and Naga had no time to avoid and were immediately impaled.
Not even those who were hiding behind the trees were spared as they were impaled tree and all. The nearly 20 enemies were instantly reduced to 10 and were unable to continue fighting. They immediately turned tail and fled.
“Oh my, isn’t this great? You guys are indeed a big deal. I’m filled with awe.”
At Nonoeru’s terrific power, Naga unintentionally murmured his admiration.
“I guess now’s not the time for shock and awe. Oi, What’s the situation inside the fort?”
Hmph – Yuki pointedly ignored him.
Hearing Ais’ angry rebuke, her shoulders trembled.
“First, report the situation, and after that, give him your gratitude.”
“Why should I…..”
Yuki whose face became red and blue searched for an argument, nevertheless, she made up her mind in the end.
“T……The humans’ vanguard seems to have besieged the fort. They probably set the watchtower aflame by shooting it with fire arrows.”
“How many troops are there in the surroundings?”
Yuki glared at Naga. Despite that, she answered him honestly.
“On the slope there are about 50 people, whereas, below the slope, twice as many, uhmm, or there could be even triple that number.”
Provided that this is an accurate estimate, they could expect that there would be as many as 200-300 of them.
“How about Lela and the rest?”
“They’re safe I think. At least, they were safe and sound when I arrived.”
“Guess we should hurry and join them. There are only 3 of them, right? In that case, they won’t be able to hold for long. Luckily, the enemies nearby have run away, so it should be fine for them to open the gates for us. Ah, but will they be able to hear us from the inside? What’s more, I don’t know if we have the time to call out to them….”
As Naga pondered, Ais asked.
“Isn’t it better to join up with them as fast as possible?”
“Yeah, even if it means we abandon the fort without protecting it, we have to meet with them.”
“Is that so? Then, let’s storm it.”
“Ah? By storming do you mean….”
Before Naga could finish his sentence, Ais broke into a dead run.
“O-Oi, what do you intend to do, Ais?”
“I’m going to batter down the fort’s fence. Follow me!”
“What the, eehh?”
“With Ais’ enhancement power, she will be alright. Naga-san, let’s go.”
“Ah, you think so? Oh that’s right.”
“Don’t slack off!”
Yuki said as she followed while holding her board.
Naga too chased after them in a hurry.
Ais charged at the fort without slowing down. Once she got near the fence, she jumped into the air and gave a sharp cry.
Ais unleashed 2 violent kicks with her right and left legs, she smashed several logs which were driven inside the ground out of the way.
(What ridiculous power. She’s indeed a human battering ram)
Naga felt astonishment, shock, and admiration as he continued to run.
Like that, Ais ran into the fort.
Following close behind, Nonoeru and Yuki tumbled inside through the broken parts.
Naga, on the other hand, bent his body low and slunk in.
Soon after they rushed into the fort, Lela, Selena, and Kei were seen dashing in their direction.
“Ais, Yuki, Nonoeru, Naga-sa-n!”
Lela who would rarely change her expression was now clearly relieved. That fact alone meant that the situation was probably hazardous. Lela breathed out a sigh of relief as she said.
“When I heard that big crash, I thought the human soldiers had broken i~n.”
“Thank God, you three were safe.”
Ais smiled with satisfaction and spread her arms.
The witch named Kei jumped into her chest and wrapped her arms around Ais’ neck. Calming her ragged breathing, Kei sighed with relief.
“*sigh*, I thought for a moment that we were finished…”
“There will be time for celebrating later. What’s the situation?”
At Naga’s commanding words and bearing, everyone focused on him.
Naga who had been thrown into a different world would usually give off a curious and pleasant aura, however, that laid back attitude was nowhere to be seen at the moment. He looked at Lela with a serious expression.
Looking at the slope behind her, she uttered.
“The enemy made an attack a while a-go. The vanguard had around 200 people climbing up the slo-pe, they continued to advance further once they realized we weren’t interfering with them. A part of their troop climbed up and deployed in the forest after confirming there was no resistance here. Surrounding the fort, the enemy began to fire arrow-s, and at the same time, an attack consisting of flaming arrows came from the side of the slope. With that, the watchtower was set a-flame a moment a-go. Now, I was trying to repel their attack using fireballs from my charms, but because it couldn’t reach the enemy in the forest, I was trouble-d.”
“Good grief. Had we come any later, it would’ve been dangerous.”
Ais heaved a big sigh of relief.
“We released a messenger pigeon immediately after spotting human troops, but you didn’t come because of that, righ-t?”
“True. We set out much earlier from the village, and while we were transporting the puppet, we noticed smoke rising up. It was then that we dashed over.”
“So it was like tha-t? Thank God we were luck-y.”
“Good, now let’s escape.” Naga said flatly.
“Ehh?”, Ais leaned back in shock.
“No… but, you’re telling us to abandon—“
“With the current situation, it’s impossible for us to protect this place til the end.”
Not just Ais but also the other witches puffed their cheeks and frowned in dissatisfaction.
Yuki, on the other hand, started to abuse Naga verbally.
“What kind of stupid, irresponsible things are you saying? As one would expect ,you are a spy from the Kasandora Kingdom aint’cha?”
“Calm down. Even if we throw away this place, it should be fine as long we seize it back.”
“What are you talking about?! Once the fort is occupied by the humans, there’s no way for us to steal it back?!”
“That’s okay, I’ve got a plan. I want to gather enemy in one spot. If we manage to do so, we will be able to repel them.”
Naga said this with complete confidence, silencing the witches.
The witches glanced at each other,
(At this point, we can only bet on Naga-san….I guess.)
Ais thought and made her decision.
“Understood. Let’s leave this to Naga-san.”
“Wait a moment, Ais, are you sure that’s fine? Should we really place our trust in this guy?”
“Even if we don’t, we won’t be able to defend this place. If we overdo it there might be casualties. In this case, it’s wiser to abandon this fort and take it back later.”
“But he might just be spouting hot air.”
“Oh, that reminds me Yuki.”
“You still haven’t expressed your thanks to Naga-san for rescuing you, have you?”
Ais who had effectively silenced Yuki then asked,
“So, what should we do?”
Naga sharply leaned forward.
“I’d like for Lela and Yuki to do something. Specifically, I would like this…”
He explained his plan to the surrounding witches.
Gasping, the witches gaped while listening to Naga’s strategy.
After finishing his explanation, Naga looked around at their faces and asked.
“Can you do it?
Lela took a deep breath and spoke in a slightly exasperated manner.
“Count on m-e.”
However, Yuki turned her face away.
“We can only do this provided that Yuki can fly on her board.”
When she heard him say that, she grumbled.
“Well, I can do it, but…a few arrows shot through my board and damaged the magic circuit. Still, I should be able to make it fly like before once I take out the arrows.”
“Is that so? Then, that’s great.”
Naga turned his gaze around and exclaimed.
“For now, we are going to throw away this fort and enter the forest. When the enemy marches into the fort, we will commence the counterattack. Until then, let’s prepare inside the forest.”
“Understood. Okay, let’s go, everyone.”
Ais dashed out after urging everyone.
Nonoeru, Yuki, Lela, Selena, Kei followed her, with Naga taking the rear.
The seven of them slipped outside through the broken spot, and ran into the forest.
“Captain Raibaha, the messenger has arrived.”
“Bring him in.”
The captain, named Raibaha, was the leader of the attack on the witches’ fort. He let the messenger into the main camp.
The main camp was located inside a thicket, a short distance away from the slope leading to a plateau. The reason it was located here was because the tree cover would hinder any attempts to use the giant doll against them.
An attacking force consisting of a large, temporary battalion formed from 3 companies was set up.
Among many countries, there were those that adapted a military system of a platoon – 10 units, and a company – 100 units.
A force made from 5-6 individual companies was called a battalion, nevertheless, there were instances when such naming would be applied for fewer number, like 3-4 companies. In such a case, it was generally known as a “temporary battalion”. The Kasandora Kingdom was no exception to this rule, thus a temporary battalion consisting of 3 companies was formed.
Raibaha, who was a senior executive among 3 company captains, was now in charge of the temporary battalion.
The messenger stood in front of him and saluted.
“Give your statement.”
The lightly equipped man released his salute and spoke.
“Reporting sir. The witches have ceased their resistance.”
“Ceased? The previous messenger said that a part of the vanguard was destroyed as a result of a battle?”
“Yes, however, the attacks coming from the fort stopped after that.”
Hearing this, Raibaha tilted his head to one side.
(When I heard that there were casualties among the soldiers in the forest, I thought that the witches had sent reinforcements, was I wrong? Judging from their fighting methods til now, it doesn’t seem like they’re setting up a trap, but….could it be that they retreated?)
As he was contemplating the meaning behind the report, a vice adjutant from another captain’s company, named Acclaim, interjected.”
“If that’s true, then it’s a good opportunity. Let’s capture the fort at once.”
“Still, we have no orders regarding this situation. We are supposed to measure the witches’ fighting capability.”
“It won’t start unless we capture it first.”
“I guess you’ve got the point, but…”
“What’s more, by taking over the fort, it will be over. There will be no longer any need for small surveillances. Not to mention, is there any way for us to overlook such a favorable chance?! Won’t it be an opportunity to raise your rank?”
“That’s… well that’s true.”
Certainly, if Raibaha manages to take over the fort using 200 units just as Acclaim says, it will be an unexpected military gain.
“If our deed of capturing the fort is recognized, won’t the general give us a commendation?”
Swayed by Acclaim’s words, Raibaha decided.
“Fine, prepare the second group for departure. I’m relying on you, Acclaim.”
“The number of the vanguard seemed to have decreased. After we assemble the remaining soldiers, we will approach the plateau and capture the fort. The 100 units from my side will go down toward the slope and stand by.”
“Please rest assured. We will scatter the witches and meet at the fort.”
Acclaim declared this with full confidence and left in high spirits along with his staff officer. Having the privilege of leading the charge and occupying the fort, Raibaha too felt inclined to be in good humor. However, he was slightly apprehensive and couldn’t be as overjoyed.
Raibaha, who had plenty of experience, was familiar with how dreadful the witches were, to the extent that it had been deeply ingrained. Nevertheless, he thought anxiously about the young Acclaim who had never fought witches before.
(Isn’t it fine for us to escape when it’s necessary? After all, the witches won’t bother pursuing us. They also won’t adopt any tactic that aims to annihilate us all at once. In the first place, they shouldn’t be able to do so because of their small numbers, still…)
Raibaha thought that it would be fine for him to come rescue the vanguard in the case that anything unexpected happened.
To begin with, his main duty wasn’t to capture a fort. Assuming that he regrouped with those who fled, that alone would be a deed worthy of raising his reputation.
Whichever option he chose, there would be no loss even if he failed.
Despite his being stuck as a mere captain of a company, Raibaha was a strong military commander who had lived through multiple wars.
The 2nd corps under the command of Acclaim held their positions near the slope. Once they regrouped with the initial vanguard, they carefully advanced halfway to the slope.
(I heard that in this vicinity there was some sort of counterattack.)
Raibaha ordered Acclaim to dispatch scouts and check the condition of the fort.
The scouting troop quickly reached the top of the slope without receiving any attacks, and sent a messenger that reported back to Acclaim
“Nobody was spotted inside the fort. It seems to be uninhabited.”
Acclaim assumed that the enemy had withdrawn.
“In that case, shall we climb up quickly and capture it?”
Acclaim ordered the 2nd group to charge.
“The enemy has retreated. We are going to occupy the witches’ fort immediately!”
The soldiers never intended to face the witches directly. Having to deal with the witches who resorted to their troublesome magic was always a disturbing notion for them. Hearing that the witches had retreated without a fight, the soldiers felt both relief and a rise in their fighting spirit.
Feeling encouraged, the soldiers changed their formation into an oblong one and climbed up the steep slope.
In the end, the 2nd group finished climbing and stood on the plateau without receiving any resistance.
They had invaded the fort through its broken fence and unbolted the gate from the inside.
As soon as the soldiers did so, Acclaim’s troops rushed inside.
“No sign of people!”
One after another, the reports which told of the witches’ retreat were called out.
(We seized the fort without any troubles. With this, it’s just the same as receiving a gift!)
Acclaim forcefully suppressed his urge to smile wide.
“Excellent. Send a messenger to Raibaha-dono and tell him to meet us at the fort just like promised.”
Raibaha, who was advancing his troops towards the foot of the slope, received the messenger dispatched by Acclaim.
“Our forces have infiltrated and captured the fort of the witches without receiving any resistance. There were no signs of witches inside.”
Hearing the report, Raibaha breathed a quiet sigh of relief.
(So the witches decided to withdraw just as we thought? Still, I didn’t expect for us to seize it this fast. Could it be that they were much weaker than we had anticipated?)
Raibaha hit upon that possibility.
Assuming that’s true, it will be good news for the Kasandora Kingdom. And once they report to the general, he would probably be overjoyed.
“Great, shall we climb up the slope and enter the fort?”
Directing that to the other staff officers, he prepared the advance of the 3rd corps.
Lela was kneeling on the ground inside the forest, tearing off the charms coiled around her waist one by one and lining them up. Using her brush, she calmly wrote on them without rushing.
Yuki pulled out the arrows protruding from her board and re-adjusted the magic flow.
Kei was helping Ais pick and gather stones from around the forest.
Nonoeru’s was nowhere to be seen as she was in the middle of securing a water supply nearby. Rather than collecting water from the atmosphere, it was much more efficient to collect it directly from a source.
Selena had gone out to scout the area.
Since, according to Ais, her power was inclined toward reconnaissance, Naga decided to entrust her with that task.
Naga struck a pose while he observed the witches; his back straight, his sword struck into the ground with his hands resting on the pommel.
While he was doing so, Nonoeru who had filled up her canteens with water returned.
She was carrying the canteens on her back and dangling them from her waist.
“Oh, thanks for your hard work. Ain’t these too heavy for you?”
(Isn’t he quite a considerate person?) – Nonoeru thought while raising her hand.
“Is that so?”
Naga nodded and faced Lela’s direction.
Lela who finished writing on the numerous charms looked up at Yuki overhead.
“Naga-san, I’m don-e”
“Just in time. Once Selena returns back–“
As soon as he turned around, Selena who was dashing through the forest came into his view.
Naga welcomed her and Selena stated her report.
“A force of more than 150 people have entered the fort and there seems to be no one else following. I think there are more at the slope’s bottom.”
“The third unit of their army is located at the bottom? They’re unexpectedly cautious of us ain’t they? Speaking of which, what’s the unit at the fort doing?”
“They are located at the plaza. Some of their soldiers are looking around the inside of the fort.”
“What are the numbers of that unit?”
“I wonder if it’s not around 50.”
“Their aim is the fort, I guess. Naturally, the commander ought to be there as well”
Naga turned his head and called out to Yuki.
“You heard, didn’t you? Our target will be the current unit at the open space.”
“I got it, geez. Don’t act all high and mighty just because you’re giving orders.”
As she directed a glare at him as usual, Ais interrupted from the side.
“That’s right, Yuki. You still haven’t said your thanks to Naga-san”
“Well then, we should prepare to attack now!”
Yuki left in a rush.
Ais sighed in slight annoyance, whereas Naga smiled wryly.
Yuki jumped onto her board and floated into the air.
“Let’s do it, Lela.”
“As you wi-sh.”
Yuki used the wind to scoop up Lela’s charms that were spread all over the ground inside the forest, making them all float simultaneously in mid-air.
The wind gusted up and passed through Lela’s skirt, lifting the much reduced number of charms which acted as the hem of her skirt.
Quickly pushing the hem of her skirt down, Lela shot a look at Naga. However, he didn’t show any signs of having noticed as he stared at the floating charms.
Naga definitely looked serious, however, Lela felt that there was also a sense of excitement and joy as well..
For someone who was about to fight for their life on a battlefield, these kinds of emotions were abnormal among witches and humans alike. This being the case, she honestly felt that Naga was probably not a normal man..
While she thought that this made Naga seem quite dependable, Lela also felt that he was somehow dangerous because of it.
(I’ve got the feeling that relaxing your guard around this person is dangero-us. Still, Ane-sama has her own expectations for hi-m. I think there should be no doubt about th-at, bu-t….)
Having misgivings welling inside her, Lela thought this in secret.
Then she looked up into the sky.
All the charms lined up neatly in the air above the treetops.
Raising his eyes toward Yuki, Naga shouted.
“Bring the charms to the enemy and drop them above their heads.”
“I know what to do even without you telling me! Speaking of which, keep your filthy eyes to yourself!”
A gust of whirlwind ran directly towards Naga, nonetheless, he stopped the blow with the front of his body.
Numerous, red veins bulged on his cheeks and arms as he endured the attack. Despite this, he continued to stare at Yuki without moving an inch.
“Do what you have to do and avoid any unnecessary actions.”
Yuki stared in shock and stammered.
“I-I got it!”
As if overpowered by Naga, Yuki turned away her face away and transported the flock of charms towards the fort using her wind.
The fort would appear instantly after she got out of the forest.
Believing that the witches had fled, only a small number of soldiers were dispatched to defend the fort’s surroundings.
Yuki breathed out a sigh of relief.
It would be dangerous were she to be shot at during her work. The effectiveness of her magic might weaken at a crucial time if she used it to lift herself outside of bow range.
Yuki approached the fort as she searched for the place that had few soldiers guarding.
She looked as though she was surrounded by a flock of bluish white butterflies.
Naga and the rest moved to the forest’s border and watched attentively.
The flock of charms drew near the wooden fence at Yuki’s quick command.
Lela took out a single charm from the remaining ones near her waist, then quickly wrote on them and chanted.
“Oh, Flames, The Supreme Ruler, The apostle of untimely death. Burn and become the fire , become the silent death, come to life come to life come to life. Burn burn burn. The divine protection of the Flame Emperor and the Fire Queen.”
The charm in Lela’s hand burst into flames, and the others floating in midair began to spit fire all at once.
The burning flock of butterflies, which flew above the open space, instantly froze in mid-air. Then they began to drop.
By the time the soldiers of Kasandora noticed the burning charms and Yuki it was already too late.
“Witches, it’s an attack from the witchesss!”
“Run away run away run away!”
The soldiers desperately tried to escape from the burning charms raining down on them, however, their large number made it difficult, not to mention the fact that the charms followed them even if they ran.
They were all wearing light equipment suited for climbing up the steep slope, because of that their uniforms easily burst into flames as they were hit by the charms.
Soldiers with body covered in flames rolled on the floor one after another, and the open space fell into chaos.
Those who dashed over after hearing noises couldn’t approach as the burning charms were flying about.
Rather than being able to extinguish the flames, they themselves fell victim to the charms waiting for them.
“Damn, we were completely deceived by the witches!”
His face twisting, Acclaim cursed and ran desperately.
“Damn those witches using their dirty tricks on us. Is this how they fight?!”
Foul tactics and surprise attacks based on magic. These were attacks worthy of the witches who held the reputation of being “cowardly and spiteful creatures” that Acclaim had heard of. However, this wasn’t theirs but Naga’s strategy.
Seeing how their commander was turning tail, Acclaim’s office staff followed him as well.
As the soldiers realized their leaders were escaping, they too broke into a run. The only passage that led to the outside was through the gate.
Acclaim cut through the group of soldiers who were flooding towards the gate, however, it turned out that that wasn’t a good idea.
At the time the officers and men became a single group and tried to run outside, they were assaulted by Nonoeru’s water spears and Ais’ thrown stones.
The soldiers that tried to pass through the gate were concentrated in one place. Because of that, the spears and throwing stones would hit them even if they weren’t aimed properly.
Acclaim was pierced violently by the water spears, he vomited blood and fainted on the spot.
Acclaim’s fallen body was tread on and kicked hard by the officers and men who were fleeing. Having already received serious injuries that pushed him to the verge of death, Acclaim was finally killed by the stomping feet of his own allies.
Nevertheless, many of them would encounter the same fate as Acclaim.
The soldiers were bombarded by spears and stones as they screamed and fell in complete chaos.
The soldiers who fell down became an obstacle that hindered the next ones. And those who tried to avoid it by slowing down their speed became easier targets for the spears and stones. As a result of this, the number of fallen soldiers had increased and made the obstacle grow. It made it nearly impossible to for anyone to pass.
Those who occasionally managed to get out were knocked down by Ais and Nonoeru the moment they tried to pass through the gate. It was a disastrous scene with heaps of corpses all around.
Other soldiers realized there was still a broken part in the fence and took a roundabout path.
Neither Ais nor Nonoeru could attack that place from their position.
Naga deemed it was necessary to allow some survivors in order to let them report about their utter defeat. Therefore, he deliberately overlooked them.
Not even a quarter of the day had passed since the soldiers of Kasandora had successfully seized the fort.
“We did it! They’re running away they’re running away! The enemy soldiers are retreating!”
Selena and Kei were jumping up while shouting with joy.
Ais had stopped throwing stones and was huffing and puffing heavily. As one would expect, even Ais couldn’t hide her fatigue after her consecutive, full power throws.
Nonoeru too released her power after taking a deep breath.
The six of them came out from the forest to the open field in front of the fort.
Yuki who was controlling the charms from her board returned as well. Unlike before, this time her board didn’t sustain even a single arrow from the enemy.
“I told you not to call me casually like that!”
At the protest coming from overhead, Naga smiled with a broad grin. Selena and Kei shuddered unintentionally at impact coming from that twisted smile.
Somehow, his look and impression is different in comparison to how they first saw him – is what both of them truly thought.
“Oooi, Yuki~sama. Won’t you pretty pwease come down?”
Said Naga in a sickeningly sweet manner as he waved at her enthusiastically.
“Wh-what is it? Why are you calling me in such a disgusting way? You’re going to give me hives if you speak like that.”
Making a cautious face, Yuki descended.
“Good job, still, won’t you continue to look around the fort’s surroundings from the sky? Especially, from the side of the cliff. Since we were unable to make use of the watchtower, observing the enemy movements can only be assigned to you.”
“Ah, th-that’s right. Well, that’s obvious. Speaking of which, I’d do it even without having you tell me.”
Saying that over her shoulder, she ascended with her board and looked down at Naga.
Yuki thought that Naga would look up and try to scold her, but contrary to her expectations, his sight was directed towards the horizon. And then, he glared at something with a serious face.
(What’s he looking at, that guy….)
Nothing could be seen in that direction. From Yuki’s position, there was the steep slope connecting the upper cliff, but generally, only the fort’s wooden fence and the sky stretching overhead could be seen from the ground.
Did Naga notice an abnormal change in the situation? Or perhaps, his eyes were fixed on something that others couldn’t see? Yuki couldn’t tell.
(Well, as long he doesn’t look this way, it’s fine. Still…)
Riding skillfully on her board, Yuki slowly began to circle in the sky above the fort.
Naga drew his sword from the scabbard.
“What do you plan to do, Naga-san?”
“Hn” – Being asked by Ais, Naga sniffed his nose.
“I’m going to finish off those that are in agony. The soldiers that sustained injuries from Nonoeru’s and your attack can be no longer saved. That’s why, rather than prolonging their suffering, it’s better to ease their death.”
“Or perhaps, you want the humans to continue suffering?”
“No. Certainly, witches and humans aren’t beings that get along, but I don’t think we would wish for the fallen enemy to die in agony.”
“Hearing that from you, I feel relieved.”
Naga said with a grin.
“Wait over there.”
Leaving these words behind, he stepped towards the gate.
Ais called out to Naga’s back with a troubled voice.
“I as well….I’ll help you as well.”
“Are you okay with that, Ais? It’s quite a harsh task you know?”
“I will be alright” – Ais nodded with a stiff face and turned around to the other witches.
“Kei, Selena, Nonoeru, Lela, you guys wait over there.”
The four of them gulped down their saliva and nodded.
Naga stepped up to the pile of fallen soldiers near the gate and checked their conditions one by one.
“If there are lightly injured people, sort them out, Ais.”
“Even though I said so, those who sustained light injuries have probably managed to flee, so it’s unlike for any of them to be here, I guess.”
As soon as Naga spotted a person on a verge of death and moaning, he alleviated their misery by piercing his sword through that person’s throat.
After checking the state of those surviving and drawing a conclusion, Ais snapped their necks resolutely.
Lela and the rest observed those two in astonishment.
Naga, whose appearance seemed cruel, was actually, a sincere, or rather a kind person.
This being the case, it should have been incredibly harsh for him to deliver finishing blows to people who were still alive. In fact, it made Ais contort her face in unhappiness. However, Naga continued to carry out his work nonchalantly and calmly.
(How should I evaluate him?) – Lela couldn’t understand it herself.
In the end, there were no lightly injured people. The majority of soldiers died in the battle, and even those who survived would incur illnesses to the extent that it was hopeless. Finishing their job, Naga and Ais called to Lela and the rest who were sticking out their heads from the broken fence inside the fort.
Naga threw a question at Lela.
“There’s no way for me alone to dig a hole big enough to bury those dead people. Perhaps, it’s better to burn them. We can also leave them like that to rot, but there might be chance for this to cause a plague. Shall we burn them?”
“That should probably d-o.”
“Well, it’s fine to leave it for later. Let’s discuss the situation from now on.”
Saying so, he beckoned the 5 witches with his hand.
The 6 of them formed a circle and sat in a clearing inside the fort.
“Despite everything, it was a splendid tactic, Naga-san.”
Ais whose face was still a bit pale said so.
“No, it wasn’t particularly splendid or anything like that. Rather, it’s strange that you haven’t done that much til now.”
“*sound of astonishment*…..”
At least it seemed to be something that Harrigan could come up with, nevertheless, Naga tilted his head downwards.
(Could it be that she won’t come up with a sneaky tactic like this one because she holds a lot of confidence in manipulating the doll?) – is what he guessed.
This was something that the enemy forces might believe.
No matter how strong the witches are, Naga couldn’t believe that the humans had been so far unable to overthrow this fort guarded by only a few people.
(Perhaps, in this world people resort to nothing but foolishly honest fighting styles. Even though those aren’t the way to win a battle… however well both sides can grasp each other’s strong and weak points is the way to victory, and defeat leads to huge losses. Outwitting the enemy and striking their weak points with one’s strong points is the key to success.)
Thinking so, Naga muttered without realizing.
“According to Sun Tzu, when you must resort to deceptive methods, your enemy’s temperament is your greatest resource….”
Hearing Naga murmuring, Ais bent her neck.
“The person named Sun Tzu, who’s that? What are deceptive methods?”
” Hm? No….uuumm… who’s that again? The name somehow appeared inside my head just now, but…deceptive methods are simply ways in which both sides trick each other.”
(Were they unable to grasp the meaning behind his words?) Not just Ais but also Lela, Nonoeru, Kei, and Selena tilted their heads.
“More importantly, Ais.”
Being called by Naga’s solid and confident voice, Ais straightened her spine.
“You said before about sending a homing pigeon, but when will it arrive at Harrigan?”
“That’s right” – at his question, Ais bent her neck and returned back to her normal self after thinking hard.
“Since we got rid of the human army immediately after discovering them, they should be on their way right now. The time Ane-sama and the rest take to arrive will depend on the length of their preparations and the number of people they bring, but, they should be here at the earliest around midday, and at the latest, around sunset….Still, with the current situation, provided that Ane-sama and the rest dash over here unarmed, they should probably arrive by the afternoon.”
“So what we are going to do will be decided upon her arrival?
“Yes, once we report to her the details and seek her decision, it will come to that.”
“Is that so? Then, shall we hang on inside this fort until Harrigan comes?”
“Do you think that the enemy will strike again?”
Ais asked as if probing for Naga’s opinion, she herself was aware that she was depending on him in these circumstances.
Was it due to her being impressed by his brilliant defeat of the advancing enemy? Or perhaps, by his courage and calmness during a critical situation? Or maybe, she was amazed by his shrewdness when he effectively led the witches? Ais herself couldn’t tell, however, she had a strange feeling that by having Naga they would be able to resolve their problems.
“No, the enemy probably won’t come back after going through such a bitter experience. At least, they should think that way….considering their current numbers. When it comes to it, they will either gather more people or think up another strategy. Whichever it is, it will be a matter for later. By the way…”
Looking at the direction of the forest, Naga continued to speak.
“What do you plan to do with the puppet left inside the forest?”
“I was thinking about bringing it here since there’s only one remaining in the fort. As expected, it would be hard for me to carry it by myself. Not to mention, taking Yuki with me is probably out of question.”
“Oh. You mean we have to observe the enemy’s movements depending on her eyes, right? After all, the watchtower has burned up completely. I guess, it will be already too dark if we go and bring it here now.”
“That’s right. Well then, til Ane-sama and the rest arrive, we should reinforce the fence while paying attention for any signs of enemies…..”
“No” – Naga shook his head.
“That will not be necessary. If by any chance the enemy makes another attack, we won’t be able to protect this fort til the end with our meager number. What’s more, that plan won’t work a second time. That’s why, any repair will be meaningless, still, it’s fine to check our damage. More importantly, everyone is probably tired, so it’s better for you to rest your bodies.”
“I wonder about that…”
“That way, you will be able to work when it’s important. You might feel anxious from doing nothing, but do your best in resting as well.”