The Second Step
Editors: Hachi, Weslykan, Fisher
Let us go back in time a little to explain the actions of Naga and the witches.
That night, when the Kasandora Army made camp near the Schweiz River.
A thin layer of cloud covered the night sky, the moonlight shone through the gaps in the clouds, helping visibility greatly.
It was already the wee hours of the next day. Near the Schweiz River, six figures could be seen to the southeast.
These darkened silhouettes were followed by a small army of short wooden puppets that barely reached waist height.
Naturally, Harrigan was the one controlling the puppets.
The puppets were arranged in four rows as they marched forward.
Just ordering the puppets to advance didn’t require any complex commands from Harrigan. However, the burden of supplying mana for such a large group of puppets was quite taxing for Harrigan.
Naga walked beside Harrigan.
He was wearing the Hakama the witches had given him that night, and some light armor covering it.
The armour was taken from the soldiers who had died in the previous battle. It was about Naga’s size, so he wore it after making some minute adjustments.
With them were four other witches, Lela, Kay, Cu, and Selena. Including Naga, everyone brought along a shield as a precaution.
The shields were for defence if the enemy came within bow range.
Naga and the others moved through the barren lands by cover of night, so they could transport and arrange the 280 wooden puppets on the river’s right bank..
The enemies hadn’t sent out any scouts tonight, so there wasn’t any need for extra caution.
Even if the enemy sent out reconnaissance troops, the witches would be able to know beforehand and take countermeasures ─ At a time like this, Selena’s magic, Heaven’s Eyes, was very effective─
However, there were other problems.
According to Naga’s prediction, that would be the very first battlefield.
If the enemy scouts crossed the Schweiz River in the morning, then they would attack with the wooden puppets.
Naga would carry out a preemptive strike on the scouts with an ambush. If the enemy moved in larger numbers than expected, some would get away, and they would need to be prepared for the enemy’s counterattack.
If possible, it would be better to observe the battle from a safe distance away. But Harrigan needed to control the puppets with magic, so she had to be within visible range.
And there was a massive amount of puppets this time. In order to supply mana to all the puppets, she needed to be closer than the time when she controlled just one giant puppet.
Due to these constraints, they had to hide themselves extremely close to the battlefield.
If the ambush failed and the enemy broke through the puppets, they would immediately be within bow range of the enemy.
That’s why they’d brought shields to block arrows.
Naga, who was stuck in a place where arrows might fall, wasn’t as nervous as expected. It was the same for Harrigan too.
“This is how a war should be.”
Harrigan didn’t seem too concerned after Naga said this, which surprised Naga.
The other witches were more or less tense, but no one shivered with fear. Naga was once again impressed by their courage and determination.
It was the same for him too.
“I don’t like such an all out bet.”
He said expressionlessly.
Harrigan had a surprised expression when Naga said this after they’d gotten this far.
“This doesn’t sound like the words of the bold, proud, and fearless Dragon King.”
Harrigan commented without any disdain or sarcasm, which made Naga reply with a troubled face:
“Personally, I prefer quantity over quality. If possible, I will gather a force that far outnumbers the enemy, and devastate them in one go. That is more my style.”
“For us, that is nothing but a daydream.”
“That’s true.” Naga replied calmly.
“I can’t hope for more numbers from all of you. Willing or not, this type of ambush is the only way left. Don’t misunderstand and think I like this, alright?”
“I am a bit surprised.”
“You, well, I thought you were a man who would prefer a tougher challenge.”
“Hey, don’t judge me so hastily.”
“Hmm, I see.”
Harrigan narrowed her eyes.
“However, you being not as lecherous as you look… is that possible?”
Naga clicked his tongue and replied:
“Don’t turn it into a question. I am not lecherous at all.”
When they heard what Naga and Harrigan said, Lela, Kay, Cu and Selena retorted immediately in their hearts.
(That’s, a lie.)
(He is… lying.)
“W-What, why are you all looking at me with gazes filled with doubt!?”
Lela continued staring at Naga coldly and answered:
“These are not gazes filled with doubt, but eyes full of absolute certain-ty.”
“Ahhh, is that so? Since you put it that way, I’m fine with being called lecherous.”
Naga brought his hands to his chest, opening and closing his palms in a groping motion.
“Since you all already labelled me as such, I will grope to my heart’s content.”
“You already did that before being labelled, right? I heard you groped Onee-sama’s breasts immediately after coming to this world, ri-ght?”
Naga turned stiff immediately.
Harrigan→Ais→Lela, that seemed to be how the rumours circulated.
It was difficult to know who was responsible at a time like this.
Ais heard it from Harrigan, Lela heard it from Ais. However, the one who groped Harrigan’s breasts was him.
(No, I didn’t do anything wrong. Not at all. If I have to say it, it was Harrigan’s fault for bathing nude at a place like that.)
But Harrigan didn’t think so. She frowned and glared at Naga.
“Right, I remember, such a thing did happen.”
Harrigan’s hair rose above her head, and took the form of a giant mallet.
“Should I return the favour for groping my breasts back then?”
Naga twisted his body away, putting his hands between him and Harrigan and waved them around.
“No, wait, wait.”
“Why should I wait?”
“You see, back then, I came to a different world out of the blue and was confused okay? A pair of voluptuous, beautiful breasts suddenly appeared before my eyes and tempted me. Any man would want to grope them, right?”
“You are spouting nonsense again.”
Harrigan was still staring at Naga, but the anger had vanished from her eyes.
At this moment, Cu said an explosive sentence.
“Strange? Naga, so you won’t feel anything unless the breasts are huge?”
“Ah? No, I am not that…”
“For example, small breasts like Lela’s won’t do?”
“Saying my breasts are small is rude, C-u.”
Lela glared at Cu, and Naga shift his gaze onto Lela.
“Ah… It’s fine, don’t worry. The value of a woman is not decided by her breast size.”
“That’s an insult, ri-ght?”
“Hahaha, that’s great Lela, small breasts are fine too.”
“Like I said, stop saying my breasts are small. Your breasts are small too right, Cu?”
“Ahahaha, what strict standards. But you are right, the only one who could win in terms of breasts is Harrigan-Nee.”
“Kay, how rude.”
Cu puffed her cheeks.
“Erm, I think it is only natural for kids to have small breasts.”
Selena interrupted stiffly.
(These girls, don’t they feel any fear before a battle? What astonishing nerves… No, is the opposite true? They are chatting in order to relieve the fear and tension?)
Naga felt this was very possible.
The witches might possess great battle prowess, but they were still young girls.
They were probably lacking in combat experience.
On top of that, there were two thousand enemies this time.
They had every reason to be nervous.
It was impossible for them to be unafraid.
That was why they were chatting to ease their tension and fear.
The actions of the witches before him impressed Naga.
On the other hand, the experienced Harrigan was acting normal.
“We are going to reach the battlefield soon, don’t make any unnecessary noise.”
She reminded them.
Cu apologized with her usual attitude, but it was obvious that she was only going through the motions verbally.
“How is it, Selena? Any sign of the enemy?”
“A moment please, Onee-san.”
Selena turned her face towards the night sky, stopped in her tracks, and opened her eyes wide.
Her pupils turned red and glowed for a moment.
(I see, so this is ‘Heaven’s Eyes’.)
This was the first time Naga saw Selena use her Heaven’s Eyes.
(She is not like the other witches who chant a spell before activating their magic.)
Selena’s pupils turned back to their original colour.
After reverting to her original expression─
“No signs of the enemy in the vicinity.”
When she heard the report, Harrigan looked towards Naga.
“In that case, should we start arranging the wooden puppets?”
Naga scanned the surroundings quickly and nodded.
“Yes. Let’s begin after getting closer to the river.”
Harrigan manipulated the wooden puppets, and arranged them into four rows on either side of the road. Naga and the others picked up the wooden flat-tipped hoes they’d brought along and started digging.
After Naga dug a shallow trench, just big enough for one person to lie inside, he set his flat-tipped hoe aside.
“Will this do?”
Aside from the armour he looted from a dead enemy, Naga was also wearing the clothes the witches gave him. That’s why he didn’t really want to go into the trench, but war wasn’t that pleasant.
No matter how unwilling, one had to strive on. That’s what Harrigan said, so he had to pretend he didn’t mind the dirt and lie down in it.
“Anyway, just lie down, it will be good enough if you are just below ground level.”
Naga then took out a blanket from his bags.
It was reddish brown in colour, which blended in with the surrounding ground.
He burrowed under the cloth.
“How is i-t?”
Lela asked. She was digging just like Naga, but she stopped and looked at him.
“… No problem. After covering the top with earth, it is hard to see you from afar.”
“Is that so? Then mine should be good eno-ugh.”
Naga removed the cloth and stood up, then reached for the hoe.
“I need to dig one for Harrigan too.”
After saying that, Naga picked up the hoe and started digging.
“If it’s for her, it would be problematic if the trench isn’t deeper than mine.”
“Let me think why… it’s because Onee-sama has big breasts and she can’t hide properly if the trench is too shallow, ri-ght?”
“You don’t need to explain.”
Lela looked down at her breasts.
Today, once again, she was wearing clothes which exposed much of her skin, and the talismans she used as a skirt hung down from her waist.
This was a dangerous attire for battle, but armour would affect the witches’ magic if they wore it, so they had no other choice.
The other witches also wore revealing clothing.
No matter how Naga looked at it, such attire didn’t make sense.
Well then, what does your common sense tell you, Naga, you who has lost your memory? If someone asked him that, he wouldn’t be able to answer either.
(At least my clothing is closer to my common sense… right?)
As if she had seen through what Naga was thinking, Lela turned her face away with an unhappy face.
“It’s true that Onee-sama’s trench has to be deeper than mine in order for her to hi-de.”
“Isn’t that right? She can’t hide if I don’t dig deeper, huh?”
Naga spread his arms with a smile.
Naga squatted down and cried out after being hit on the back of the head by Harrigan’s hair.
“You think I’m a titty monster!!?”
Naga nursed the back of his head as he looked up, and waved his palm in front of his face.
“Ah, no, I think they’re wonderful breasts.”
“But isn’t the size too big?”
“They won’t get any bigger even if I talk about how titillating they are, y’know.”
In response to Naga’s joke, Harrigan made an unpleasant face.
The other four witches looked as if they had eaten something rotten and averted their face awkwardly, then returned to their digging quietly.
“Ara? You can’t take this joke?”
“I know you are a smart man, but you don’t have any talents in telling jokes.”
“Ughh, what a harsh critique.”
“Not at all. I did acknowledge that you are smart.”
“But… Never mind, thanks for the compliment.”
(How should I put this, I don’t think my wits are worth mentioning. It’s just that the people and witches of this world are too righteous. Well, I will accept this evaluation since I received it.)
Naga just rolled with it.
(Not many people acknowledge me anyway. In that world, the only one who did was my dad… Ah? Who was my dad?)
Naga thought to himself.
In the end, no clear images came to mind.
“What is it? Are you worried about something?”
Harrigan asked when she saw Naga acting that way.
“Ahh… No, it’s nothing. I just thought of something, and was trying to remember.”
“Fufu. So, what did you remember?”
Naga shook his head weakly.
“I see. It’s fine, don’t be too anxious about it.”
“Yup. I can’t remember it anyway, so I just have to wait patiently.”
Naga replied and continued digging, but Harrigan stopped him.
“Hey, this should be enough right?”
After checking the depth of the hole under his feet, He lift his head and looked at Harrigan’s breasts.
“L-Like I said! Don’t look at my chest with such eyes!”
After receiving Harrigan’s fierce glare, Naga shrugged.
“True, this should be good enough.”
Naga stepped out of the shallow pit, and Selena interrupted:
“Naga, mine’s done too.”
Selena’s hole was right next to Naga’s
She had to observe the movement of the enemy and relay them to Naga, so their holes need to be within earshot.
And since they were hiding, they couldn’t be too loud.
That’s why Selena dug her hole right beside Naga.
“Alright, give it a try.”
After Naga said that, Selena stepped into the hole and laid face up.
Naga and the others will be lying prone, but Selena had to lie face up in order to use Heaven’s Eyes.
After covering her body with a cloth like a blanket, only the top half of Selena’s face could be seen, with her eyes wide open, looking at the night sky.
Her pupils turned crimson again.
“… It’s good. I can see clearly.”
“Is that so? Then it’s fine. Any movement from the enemy?”
“I will adjust my view.”
Selena answered and the glow in her eyes became brighter.
“I can see the other side of the river, the Kasandora Kingdom has set up camp there. There are about five or six hundred people. There are groups heading towards the camp. The numbers… It’s hard to tell, there should be more than a thousand. However, there is no sign of the enemy on this side of the river.”
“Oh? Thank you for your hard work.”
In response to Naga’s voice, Selena’s pupils reverted to their original colours.
Selena pulled herself up and got out of the hole.
“I’m done here too, Naga.”
Kay, Lela and Cu answered after digging their holes.
“Harrigan, how much time til dawn?”
“Let’s see, probably about a watch later.”
One watch was about two hours.
“There’s nothing that needs to be done until dawn. Everyone, go into your holes and rest. You mustn’t sleep, but lying down with your eyes closed will help you recover your fatigue.”
Harrigan nodded her head in agreement.
“But Selena needs to keep her eyes open.”
“Yes, I will work hard.”
“I’m counting on you. If worse comes to worst and we need to run away, I will carry you to the horses if you’re too tired to move.”
In order to stop the horses from making noise, a bit was stuffed into their mouths, and tied to a wooden stake on a hill nearby.
“Erm… Sorry, I will be counting on you when the time comes.”
“Hey Selena, your entire body would be touched all over if he carries you okay? Are you fine with that?”
“I won’t do that! Think before you speak, Cu!”
Cu laughed innocently as usual, even after Naga glared at her.
“Then, piggyback me too.”
“I won’t be able to walk if I piggyback you too.”
“Huh~~ I’m not that heavy okay?”
“Everyone is light, but two of you will be heavy together, isn’t that so?”
“How boring. The title of Dragon King will cry if you complain about the little things, y’know?”
Naga couldn’t help smiling wryly.
(This girl gets along with others easily. A rare case among the witches.)
Cu couldn’t hide her nervousness when she first met Naga. But after chatting with him a few times, she could talk with him easily, like old friends who had known each other for years.
(Everyone has their own unique character, how interesting. Painting these girls to be the incarnation of evil that needs to be purged, the people from the church are twisting the truth.)
But Naga learned about all of this from Harrigan.
Humans should have their own opinions too. But the Church’s opinion that Harrigan and her witches are the sworn nemesis of humanity was hard for Naga to accept.
Or rather, Naga found it hard to accept religion influencing politics.
Humans affiliated with religions just need to worry about religious matters.
But, why did he think this way? Naga couldn’t understand.
Sympathy for the witches? Resistance against the forces of the Church?
What Naga was thinking right now would deeply affect his beliefs and ideas in the future. But right now, he hadn’t noticed.
“If you can’t walk, why not let Cu carry you all to ru-n?”
Lela suggested to Cu suddenly.
Kay turned towards Cu, and the front end of her belts squirmed in the air.
“It will work, Cu. Just wrap your belts around and you can carry the-m.”
“No, that’s a bit…”
“Compared to giving a piggyback, the field of vision is, clearer.”
Several belts extended out from Cu’s body, raising high up above her body as they wriggled.
“No, no thank you.”
“No, really. I will walk on my own.”
Naga pointed at Cu.
“Then walk on your own from the start! And you just need to lie prone after the battle begins. You won’t be as tired as Selena!”
“Ah, is that so?”
“What a pain.”
Naga had a troubled expression, then turned to face Cu.
“I had been thinking after seeing you carry the logs, those things on you,”
Naga stopped and pointed to Cu’s belt.
“…Can carry heavy loads, too.”
“If I can maintain balance, it doesn’t matter how heavy the thing is.”
Naga then looked at Kay’s body blatantly.
“Then, carrying Kay would not be a problem too.”
“Wait! If you put it that way, it sounds like I am incredibly heavy, don’t do that!”
“That’s right. Kay is not heavy.”
“Ain’t that right?”
“Because her breasts are the smallest here.”
Kay spat out the air in her mouth on reflex.
Cu and Selena laughed heartily.
Lela smiled too.
Their nervousness before the battle was more or less relieved.
That was probably not what Cu and Kay were after, but their conversation should be improving the atmosphere before the battle.
“What a sharp tongue this Cu girl has.”
Kay looked up into the sky with a lamentable face, and Harrigan, who had been watching over them in silence, finally interjected.
“Stop playing, hurry and get into your holes.”
“That’s right. Stay in the holes obediently and wait for the enemy to make their move at dawn.”
Naga urged them, and everyone got into their trenches.
Naga stretched his legs out in the trench and covered his body with a cloth. After piling earth from around the hole on top of the cloth, he laid there prone.
Only his face was uncovered, facing forward.
Because of the thick clouds, light from the moon and the stars didn’t reach the ground and the surroundings were pitch dark.
Even Naga, who had good night vision, couldn’t see clearly.
(Now, I can only see how things play out. I hate putting all my eggs in one basket, but that’s the only viable strategy this time. Besides the execution of the plan, luck will play an important part too.)
Naga’s body shivered inside the trench.
He shivered, not only from the cold before dawn, but also from the excitement of a battle about to start.
Naga and the witches hid in their dark trenches and waited silently for the battle to begin.
The sounds of battle finally started.
The ambush by the wooden puppet mob succeeded perfectly, the entire scouting unit that crossed the Schweiz river was wiped out.
After Naga and the others confirmed this, they got out of their holes and moved the wooden puppets forward.
At the same time, they kept their distance from wooden puppets and advanced towards the river.
Harrigan, who was controlling the puppets, walked in front along with Naga, followed, in order, by Lela, Selena, and Kay.
While Cu turned back to retrieve Naga’s and her horse.
Out of the five witches here, Cu and Ixine, from the 3rd group, were more proficient in horsemanship, so Naga assigned the task to her.
However, though she might be more proficient, she was actually ‘not that good after all’ (According to Naga).
Naga moved cautiously as Harrigan watched the sides carefully.
In order to not leave any wooden puppets out, she had to focus on watching them.
All the wooden puppets could move at the same time, but one or two puppets would mess up their movements and fall out of the ranks occasionally.
That’s why Harrigan had to identify the puppets that moved strangely as early as possible, and return them to formation.
(The controls are smooth so far.)
In order to not disturb Harrigan, Naga said this to himself in his mind.
(However, the next phase will be the critical point. The second stage of a two stage shot, or rather, whether the second arrow can hit the target perfectly. That will decide the battle.)
Shortly after, the 2nd battalion of Kasandora’s kingdom entered the river and started crossing it.
According to the observation of Heaven’s Eyes by Selena, they numbered about four hundred, and must not be allowed to all cross at the same time.
There were 260 wooden puppets that could still move, and even if they committed this entire force, the opponents were fully equipped troops.
Their morale was high, and they outmatched Naga and the others even if they relied on numbers alone.
But Naga’s second arrow was to weaken the units crossing the river and separate them.
Yuuki, who left the battlefield earlier on the air hoverboard, finally unleashed the second arrow.
If the plan proceeded smoothly, Naga would be able to cut off part of the Kasandora kingdom’s army and rout the units crossing the river.
It would be difficult to predict how their main force would react after this. But after suffering heavy losses, it was unlikely they would continue their march towards the great cliff, in order to avoid further losses. That was Naga’s aim.
(I’m counting on you, Yuuki.)
Watching Yuuki, who turned into a small dot in the distance, Naga stared at her as if he was offering a prayer.
Yuuki’s air hoverboard appeared in the air upstream of the Schweiz River where the dam was.
Ais shouted as she stared at the sky, the other witches also looked up.
The black dot became larger, and came close enough to distinguish Yuuki’s face.
Waving her hands on the air hoverboard, she yelled:
“Success success success!”
Ais and Nonoel, who were watching Yuuki’s hoverboard intensely, showed cheerful expressions.
Yuuki, who was heading straight for the river dam, shouted once more:
Ais was standing on the river bank and had thick ropes coiled several times around her waist.
The ropes extended out behind her, and were tied to the logs used to block the river flow and build the dam.
Ais used her strength to take a step forward.
According to the plan, the ropes would shift the logs, and unleash the water that was held back, and the water pressure would break the dam… That was how it should go.
However, despite using all her strength and her entire face turning red, Ais couldn’t move forward.
The moment Nonoel looked at Ais worriedly, the ropes tied to Ais and the dam snapped loudly.
Ais who was leaning forward with all her strength fell forward just like that.
She steadied her footing with some effort and avoided falling onto her face, Ais saw that the ropes tied to her body had snapped and had a troubled face.
“To think the rope would snap. We made the dam too sturdy.”
Yuuki, who was flying on the air hoverboard, landed hastily.
“Wait, what happened, Ais!?”
Ais looked at her with a troubled expression.
“As you can see, the rope snapped.”
“The rope snapped, what should we do!? If we don’t break the dam soon, all the enemy forces will cross the river!”
“G-get the backup rope.”
Nonoel looked anxiously at the other witches, but Ais’ voice was faster than the witches action.
She stopped her comrades.
“We won’t make it even if we retie it with the backup ropes. If the ropes have the same toughness, it is very possible that it will snap again. If it snaps again, we definitely won’t make it.”
“T-then what should we do!?”
“There’s no other way, I have to dive underwater and break it directly.”
Not just Yuuki, the other witches were also staring with their eyes wide open.
“I will dive into the water. You need to control the water from upstream, and let me go along with the flow to break the dam.”
“There is no time to think. If we don’t break the dam now, Naga will lose the battle. That means we will all lose the battle.”
“Don’t worry, look, my body is tough, I’ll be fine even if the water hits me. Ah, but remember to fish me out after this.”
She might lose her life, but now was the crucial moment between victory and defeat. Ais acted as if she was at ease, forcing Nonoel to make her decision.
“I understand, Ais. I will give it a try.”
Nonoel replied with a pale face.
“Yuuki, return to the battlefield immediately after the dam breaks. Everyone else stay put and wait for Onee-san and Naga’s instructions. Understand?”
The rest of the witches─ Yuuki, Genius, Elenortha, and Mimone nodded stiffly.
“Well then, let’s begin.”
Ais walked upstream, and Nonoel followed.
After a short distance upstream, Ais leapt into the air and dove into the water.
At the same time, Nonoel began chanting her spell.
“In the name of the wild river god, may the water rise, stand, align, destroy, flourish, swell, surge. The gods, the insubordinate, those who strife, those seeking vengeance, wash all of them away with this flood!”
The still lake water in the dam started rippling.
Bubbles appeared and a wave surged.
A flow could be seen, which turned into a whirlpool.
The water around Ais seemed to have a will of its own, flowing rapidly downstream and slamming into the dam.
Riding this wave, Ais bent her knees and straightened them explosively, her feet kicking the logs heavily.
The logs cracked, and large amount of water flowed through the opening.
Cracking noises could be heard all over the dam, and with a tremor, it collapse under the weight of the water.
Unable to resist the pressure of the water flow, the dam broke into pieces.
With an ominous cracking noise, pieces of wood and splinters gushed downstream together with the wave.
The water surging through the dam engulfed the shattered logs along with Ais’ body, flowing downstream mightily.
The sound of logs colliding with each other and the roar of the river flowing reverberated throughout the area.
No matter how tough Ais’ body was, if she got caught in the stream with those logs, she wouldn’t come out of it unharmed.
Yuuki cried out nervously as she watched this scene.
After instructing her comrades, Nonoel jumped into the water.
Her voice disappeared into the water in no time.
Yuuki looked downstream with concern. At this moment, Mimone patted her shoulder.
“We will take care of the rest, Hurry on back, Yuuki.”
“Ah, yes… Yes.”
“I will help to search for Ais.”
“Huh? Can we? Shouldn’t we stay put here…”
“I can’t just stand here idly after seeing Ais in danger right? Just leaving one person here will be enough.”
Yuuki ran towards the place she left her air hoverboard, jumped onto it, and began chanting her spell.
Her air hoverboard floated straight up.
“I’m leaving Ais to you─!”
Yuuki waved from the air, Mimone, Genius, and Eleonortha waved in response.
“Leave it to us!”
Yuuki rode on the air hoverboard and flew downstream.
The second battalion of Kasandora, minus the 80 men of 2nd company who fell under the attack when they crossed the river in the beginning, still had four hundred odd men left. The first company finished the crossing in no time and proceeded to spread out onto the plains.
The third company, which followed right after, finished their crossing too.
The units left on the left bank started moving towards the river, and some of them had already started crossing.
“Naga, the third group is crossing the river!”
Selena, who was observing the enemy’s movement, reported this in a near scream.
“Oh no, this is bad. It’ll be too late to activate the trap if this continues, we’ll have to face four hundred foes!”
In the face of this dire situation, Naga’s expression turned gloomy.
Harrigan looked hastily upstream, and then at the enemy forces crossing the river.
“How slow. Yuuki flew over and should have already reached them. Now is a good time to flood them too. Did something happen?”
Harrigan muttered to herself. “Very likely.” Kay replied:
“Ais and the others engaging the enemy scouts… Is that possible?”
Naga refuted Kay’s worries.
“No, that shouldn’t be. The dam is set in a place the enemy scouts couldn’t reach right?”
“If not, why isn’t the water coming?”
Kay asked and Naga stammered:
“No, that… I don’t know.”
“What should we do, Naga? If we wait any longer, the entire enemy force will cross the river.”
When he heard Harrigan’s question, Naga reviewed the situation once again.
It wasn’t clear why the trap hadn’t activated yet, but the water would come if the dam got broken, it didn’t matter how.
The probability of the enemy discovering the trap was low, and spending more time than expected to break the dam was within expectations.
(If so, it should be just a matter of time before the dam breaks and the water comes. Waiting here idly will just let them cross the river and form up successfully. It’s a bit dangerous, but we need to confuse the enemy, so let’s attack now.)
To be honest, it wasn’t just a little dangerous, but very dangerous. However, no matter what, they couldn’t sit idly by.
There were two choices.
Advance? Escape? What should he choose?
If they escaped, they could avoid dying in battle, but the chances of victory in the future would be low.
No, there would be no chance at all.
(The only option is to advance then.)
(And Ais is a reliable witch. If she’s there, it will definitely work.)
Naga lifted his head and told Harrigan with determination.
“Attack the units that have crossed to this side of the river.”
“… Will that be fine?”
“The breaking of the dam has probably been delayed due to some circumstances. If we attack the enemy now, the water will come midway. That way, we won’t stray too far from the plan.”
With two hundred enemy troops already across the river and more units to follow, the situation had already deviated from the plan, but Naga remained committed to it.
Even though the witches were far stronger than the humans, if they fell into doubt and unease, they wouldn’t be able to display even half of their true strength.
That’s why Naga strengthened his tone.
“Also, the one in charge of that place is Ais right? She won’t fail a mission on the level of breaking a dam.”
“Is that so? Alright, let’s go to war.”
Harrigan was resolute too.
“Lela, send the signal. There won’t be time to send a smoke signal after we attack. Call forth Ixine and the others from the back.”
Lela wrote on a talisman swiftly and burnt it.
A blue flame erupted from the talisman, sending bluish white smoke into the sky.
“Alright, advance. Kay and I will stay on the frontline. Lela will be Harrigan’s guard. Selena will continue observing the enemy. Remember to tell Cu when she comes back too.”
Kay waved her hands.
“I got, it.”
Lela picked up the shield to block arrows.
With the first company of the 2nd battalion as the target, the wooden puppets began their assault.
That might be so, but their speed was anything but ‘assault’ like.
And of course, the Kasandora army noticed.
“Something is coming!”
“What is that!?”
“That’s them! The puppets that attacked our recon team!”
“They’ll attack with arrows!”
“Archers, we’ll return fire with arrows too!”
The enemy became tense, with roars and shouts everywhere.
Naga said to Harrigan behind him. She stopped and issued the order to the puppets to fire a volley.
Sixty arrows were loose in the first volley, followed by fifty more that shook the air.
Cries resounded from the enemy.
Dozens of arrows flew from the enemy, hitting many of the wooden puppets.
But each puppet was only hit once or twice at the most.
It was not enough to stop the puppets.
Harrigan did her best to supply mana to the puppets and keep them moving.
A short distance behind the puppets were Naga, who was holding a shield and down on one knee, and Kay, who was standing motionlessly in place.
Behind the two of them, Harrigan continued supplying mana, with Lela standing beside her with a large shield.
The shield Lela held was made from wood, so it was lacking in hardness─ Metal shields were heavy and would weaken magic, so it was out of the question─ So she pasted talisman all over it to increase its toughness.
Arrows flying from afar won’t be able to pierce it then.
At a distance between 40 to 50 yards, the puppets and the 1st company of the 2nd battalion fired arrows at each other.
The 3rd company behind also joined the fray.
The 1st and 3rd company numbered almost two hundred men altogether.
Troops other than archers also picked up bows and retaliated with their arrows.
The number of soldiers that fell and puppets that were silenced increased.
Naga estimated that 60 to 70 puppets had stopped moving.
Less than two hundred puppets remained.
On the other front, the casualties from the two companies numbered about 30 to 40.
About 160 to 170 men remained.
It would be great if the exchange of volleys could continue, but the enemy still has reinforcements.
If the other unit crossing the river, and the 4th company was to join in, Naga’s side wouldn’t be able to keep up with just the puppets.
The water wasn’t here yet.
(We can’t continue!?)
With the battle plan in disarray, Naga muttered to himself in his mind.
If they wanted to flee, now would be the time.
Once the enemy breaks free and the battle becomes chaotic, some of his comrades would definitely fall.
The witch camp was extremely lacking in numbers, so both Naga and Harrigan wished to avoid any casualties.
Also, even if they were to run now, the chances of someone dying was very high.
(What should we do? Staying here is dangerous. Running is dangerous. Then…)
Naga, who usually make sharp decisions, was in a dilemma, which was a rare sight. At this moment, a roar came from the river and into his ears.
Naga unconsciously move the shield away, stood up, and looked.
Straightening his back and looking towards the river, Naga’s view was blocked by terraces and couldn’t see it directly.
Naga clicked his tongue and knelt again as an arrow flew his way.
Kay, who was standing beside Naga, rushed before him and opened her arms.
Clank, a metallic sound could be heard and the arrow fell to the ground.
“Wait, Naga, it’s dangerous to lower your shield.”
“Ah… Ahhh, sorry.”
Naga apologized, glanced at the arrow and asked Kay.
“Are you fine?”
“Me? Look, I’m not hurt at all.
Kay turned back and pointed to her chest and belly.
Her skin glimmered a metallic glow.
Kay pointed to her skin that was gleaming silver with a smile, and tap on it, making a hard metal sound.
Kay, who stood boldly without a shield, could harden her body with magic.
After hardening her body, she would become tough enough to repel swords, spears and arrows.
Kay uses her hardened fists to beat up her foes and punt her adversaries with hardened feet, a rare physical type amongst the witches.
“So hard even the arrows couldn’t pierce through.”
Naga sighed in relief.
“I see. How should I put this, you are really amazing.”
“Hehe~~ That’s right.”
Kay turned her back towards Naga once more.
“In that case, Naga doesn’t need to worry and can just hide behind me.”
Kay’s cocky attitude made Naga smile wryly. He immediately returned to his serious expression and looked at the river terraces.
The sound of the arrows with the yell of the soldiers made it unclear, but there was a soft sound that was out of place.
It was becoming louder.
It was the sound of surging water flowing downstream.
“Just in the nick of time.”
Naga sighed in relief.
The 4th company of the 2nd battalion was crossing the river.
An unfathomable sound came from upstream.
That should be the sound of water flowing.
Since this was a river, there was nothing strange about hearing sound of water flowing.
The strange thing was the roar of a river surging that should only be heard when there was a lot of water.
The depth of the river didn’t even reach a man’s waist.
It was cloudy in the sky, but there weren’t any thick clouds that would bring rain.
Upstream was the same, showing no signs of dark clouds that would herald heavy rain.
There weren’t any factors that would cause a surge of water that could make such loud noises.
But, the sound came anyways.
“What is that sound?”
Several soldiers who were turning their head to search for the source of the sound scream unconsciously.
A tsunami-like wave roared down from upstream.
The sky high waves made it look like a completely different river.
Compared to the river that was just a yard or two at most, the wave was twice the height of a man, covering the surface of the river completely.
The water came at a speed that was never seen here before, surging down fiercely.
The troops that were traversing the river were engulfed in no time and washed downstream.
Not just the foot soldiers.
Even the cavalry couldn’t withstand the flow and was washed away.
Only the heads of a few horses could be seen struggling above the surface of the water.
The riders were forced to release their reins and were lost in the waters.
The fierce flood didn’t last for very long and the water level gradually dropped.
─ Even so.
For the Kasandora Army, the impact was intense.
The soldiers who made it across to the right bank, the lucky ones who had not started crossing, and the battalion headquarters staff officer and soldiers were all stunned silent and just stared at the catastrophe before them blankly.
Selena ran over with her shield.
“The enemies’ third wave was washed away by the flood as they were crossing the river!”
Selena said in a higher pitch than normal, and her breathing was ragged because she sprinted all the way here… But that wasn’t all.
Kay jumped at the news.
“Is that so!? How was it!?”
Naga’s reply also got louder.
“Of the number of troops that were crossing at that time, 50 to 60 of them were washed away. But the soldiers who made it across and those who haven’t are all shellshocked.”
Naga knocked his fist into his palm.
“Great! Let’s do something next!”
(However, there are more than two hundred who made it across, it would be troublesome if we don’t wipe them out.)
Naga shook his head to stop the uneasiness from gripping his heart.
Harrigan ran to him with Lela who was holding a shield.
“Move the last row of wooden puppets forward. Maintain distance from the enemy, just attacking with arrows should be enough. Don’t let them notice how many puppets we have left.”
“I got it.”
Harrigan moved the puppets towards the river.
At this moment, the seven witches from the third group and Cu who went to retrieve the horses appeared.
“Oh, showing up just at the right moment.”
Naga took the reins of the horse from Cu, and Cu, who was riding on another horse, called out to him.
“What’s the matter?”
“Naga, can we ride together?”
It seemed that she wanted to ride together with Naga.
Two sets of saddles were prepared just in case, so there wasn’t any problem with them riding together.
“If I’m here, there would be no need to fear the arrows of the enemy.”
The front ends of several belts wrapped around Cu squirmed in the air.
“That’s right. Alright, get behind me…”
“It would be better for me to defend in front. Is that okay?”
“Alright, let’s go with your idea.”
Naga got onto the saddle behind Cu with his left leg. Kicking off the ground with his other leg, he pushed himself onto the horse.
With both hands on the reins, Cu would be inside Naga’s embrace if he leaned forward a little more.
“Wait… This feels wrong. Never mind, as long as Cu is fine with it.”
Harrigan mumbled after seeing Naga holding the reins after mounting the horse.
“There are less than a hundred puppets left! And they are being broken through!”
“The enemy’s number?”
More than a hundred.”
“It’s fine even if the puppets get wiped out, reduce their troops by at least half.”
“I will try.”
Harrigan returned to her task of manipulating the puppets after answering.
“The enemy who have broken through will be engaged by me, Cu, Kay and Ixine. Nenel and Harlequin will support us. Linna, Linne, and Nascissus, protect Harrigan and Selena!”
Kay and Ixine mounted the other horse.
“Beware of stray arrows.”
When they heard Naga’s warning, Nenel and Harlequin picked up their shields to block arrows.
Cu was with Naga, so he didn’t need to use a shield.
Ixine was riding with Kay, so she didn’t need to raise her shield high up.
“Slowly advance, and stay behind me.”
Naga pulled his reins after saying that.
The horse he was riding with Cu, and the horse Kay and Ixine was riding started trotting forward, with Nenel and Harlequin following behind.
Naga’s group engaged in a fierce battle with the two companies that had crossed the river. The rest of the second battalion on the left bank─ one hundred men from the battalion headquarters company, the twenty odd survivors of the 2nd company who were held in reserve and the twenty odd members of the 4th company who had yet to cross the river, finally came to their senses.
However, the remnants of the 2nd company had already lost their will to fight and couldn’t move.
It was the same for the survivors of the 4th company who lucked out and didn’t cross the river earlier.
If the commander and his staff from headquarters weren’t watching them, they would have run away.
“Commander, the 1st and 3rd company crossed the river and are under the witches’ attack! Please give your orders!”
One staff officer requested with a pale face, which made Sneijder’s face turn red from rage.
“Get the remaining soldiers from 2nd and 4th company to cross the river immediately! Headquarters will follow right behind! Head for the river!”
The staff officers immediately sent messengers to notify the company captains.
The 4th company was hit by the water when they were crossing the river, and more than half of them were washed away.
About twenty soldiers made it across before the flood. The remaining soldiers on this side of the river was also about twenty.
That meant about sixty men were gone.
The company captain was nowhere to be found, he was probably washed away by the water along with his subordinates.
Since that was the case, the headquarter commander wanted the remnants of the 2nd and 4th company to hurry across the river to link up with the twenty odd soldiers stranded on the other side of the river, or they wouldn’t be able to save the 1st and 3rd company that were under attack.
The river had already subsided to the same level before the flash flood, so there wasn’t any problems with crossing the river so they should do it now.
At that instant.
The remaining dozens of soldiers from the 4th company who had witnessed their comrades being washed away by the river didn’t move even after receiving their orders.
It was the same for the remnants of the 2nd company.
The soldiers who stood at the river bank idly only got in the way of the battalion headquarters company that were moving towards the river.
“What are you all standing around for! Soldiers of the 2nd and 4th company, hurry up and advance!”
Sneijder roared, and the deputy commander reported in a voice as if screaming.
“T-That’s because the soldiers are scared out of their wits.”
Sneijder’s face flushed in rage.
“I don’t care, get the cavalry to run through them!”
“If we dally around, the 1st and 3rd company on the opposite bank will be wiped out! If they don’t move, I’ll execute them on the spot!”
Sneijder placed his hands on the sword hilt on his waist. The deputy commander was shocked by this action and immediately dashed out.
The hundred odd soldiers from the battalion headquarters company squeezed passed the surviving soldiers and headed for the river.
“The waters have subsided. Do not fear, follow my lead!”
Sneijder shouted at the cowardly troops and head straight into the river.
At this moment.
The water rippled and the surface of the river wavered.
Sneijder stared at the disturbance, and water came flying at him.
Thin, sharp spears of water.
Before he knew what had happened, Sneijder’s abdomen was pierced by the water spears.
Sneijder opened his eyes wide, and finally realized something had stabbed into his stomach.
Sneijder reached out with trembling hands and grabbed the transparent water spear that pierced his armour and belly.
His arm lost strength and the water spear lost its shape, and scattered to the side.
Sneijder collapsed to the side.
And splashed into the water.
The staff officers, who were escorting him, screamed as if they were the one who got stabbed.
The one who attacked Sneijder was Nonoel.
While pursuing Ais, Nonoel came downstream and rescued Ais midway.
Ais was brought to the riverbank and was mostly unharmed─ She had some cuts and bruises, but nothing serious like fractures─ After Nonoel checked on her, she let Ais continue to rest and drifted further downstream to observe the battle.
When she was hiding in the water and watching the surrounding, she noticed an officer crossing the river, so she went near and attacked.
Wearing thin clothes sticking tightly onto her skin, Nonoel realized the enemy she killed was higher ranked than she expected, which surprised her too.
He was wearing armour more extravagant than the rank and file, and charged to the front after issuing orders to those around him. That’s why Nonoel thought he was rather high ranking.
(I killed someone so important that it even shocked me.)
Nonoel was proficient in controlling water with magic, and could breath-in the dissolved air from the water.
That’s why she could dive into the water and move around.
She could easily stay submerged for half a watch, and diffuse the light refraction in the water to make it hard to spot her.
If she was in the water, she could sneak close without the soldiers noticing.
I will kill one or two platoon leaders if thing go smoothly… That was what Nonoel thought, but the she didn’t expect the one she took out to be the battalion commander.
(Now the unit won’t be able to function properly.)
Just like Nonoel imagined, the soldiers behind the battalion commander were in an uproar.
They had just witnessed the murder of the battalion commander.
And they didn’t know how the commander had been killed.
In their mind, they were sure such an attack was the doing of the witches. That’s all they could think at this point.
“There is a witch in the river!”
“They will attack with strange magic!”
“Get away from the river now!”
The battalion headquarters soldiers ignored the orders of the platoon leaders and staff officers and ran with their backs to the river.
“If we don’t run, we will end up like the commander!”
“Witches! The witches are attacking!”
“Hey! Stop right there!”
“Come back! Come back right now!”
“Don’t move on your own!”
“Get out of the way!”
“Don’t block me!”
The platoon leaders and staff officers were knocked aside by the stampeding troops, and were trampled by the soldiers who followed behind.
The command system was in upheaval, the units had lost all control, throwing the entire group into chaos.
That way, this group won’t be able to threaten Naga, Harrigan and the others on the other side of the river.
Nonoel judged that she didn’t need to stay any longer.
(Let’s go back to the place Ais is resting.)
Controlling the water flow skilfully, she went against the current and left.
The two hundred men from the 1st and 3rd company that crossed the river were engaged in an intense battle with the puppets manipulated by Harrigan. But the twenty men from the 4th company that crossed the river just stood idly by the river bank.
Just with the arrow attacks, the casualties in the 1st and 3rd company were over fifty. The number of puppets also fell drastically.
It was obvious that the number of arrows flying around had dropped.
The soldiers from the 3rd company heard from their captain that their allies were washed away while crossing the river. They would probably suffer the same fate if they were to turn back.
This attack could only be used once, but the Kasandora army never thought about the possibility that this was a trap laid by Naga and the witches.
They suspected that this was the magic of the witches.
There was no way to return to the river.
In order for them to survive, the only way was to defeat the puppets army in front of them and force a path through.
Since witches that could cast grand spells to control the river appeared, the witch won’t attack the place where the puppets were being manipulated. That’s what they thought.
“We will be pursued and attacked if our backs are to the enemy. Since we can’t go back to the river, we can only forge ahead. The enemy are just small puppets, there is nothing to fear in melee combat! Move forward, forward!”
Half of the surviving soldiers picked up shields to block the arrows, the other half continued firing as the Kasandora army closed in on the puppets.
The captain of the 3rd company had grasped the weakness of the puppets.
Harrigan was controlling a large number of puppets that performed simple actions repeatedly.
Even if the captain didn’t realize this point, his judgement of charging the puppets to open a path in order to survive was correct.
After all, puppets were just puppets, they couldn’t fire powerful, accurate shots like humans.
They could fend off most of the arrows just by raising their shields.
One person will raise the shield, the other one will hide behind and fire off shots.
However, there were many puppets.
And the puppets won’t fall after being hit by one arrow, so the Kasandora army was hesitant to advance.
The counterfire had reduced the number of puppets further, so Harrigan rearranged the formation into three ranks.
Each rank shot their arrows at a different angle.
Puppets shooting almost parallel to the ground.
Puppets shooting 30 to 40 degrees up.
And a group of puppets shooting at an even higher angle, as if they were aiming for the mountains.
If they placed the shields to defend the front, they would be hit by the arrows falling over head.
If they raised the shield above their head, they couldn’t block the arrows flying straight at them.
The soldiers of the 1st and 3rd company forged ahead with steeled resolve, but they lost thirty men before they even reach the puppets.
On top of the 60 to 70 casualties from the earlier exchange of fire, they had lost about a hundred men.
Only a hundred soldiers were left.
The vanguard of these hundred have charged into the front rank of the puppets.
It became a melee battle, which put the puppets at an overwhelming disadvantage.
The Kasandora soldiers held a shield in their left hand and a sword in their right.
The soldiers holding bows threw them down and drew their swords.
With swords in hand, the troops slashed at the puppets.
Unable to dodge, the puppets were cut down one after another.
The number of puppets in the first rank diminished rapidly.
All the puppets committed to the battle by Naga and Harrigan would be completely wiped out soon.
Time was very short.
The puppets in subsequent rows couldn’t shoot anymore and joined the fray.
Naga and Cu, as well as Kay and Ixine, who were on horses, were followed by Nenel and Harlequin, who were on foot, engaged the enemy too.
In the face of the Kasandora army wielding swords and kicking with their feet, the puppets couldn’t react immediately and got entrenched in a chaotic battle.
Fights broke out all over the place with no semblance of order.
The puppets didn’t swing any swords, and could only fire arrows.
They couldn’t aim, and only performed the simple actions of firing them.
Despite their effort to continue firing arrows, with the puppets’ dull movement, more and more started to fall.
However, no matter how they bashed or kicked, many of the lifeless puppets would still get up.
After rising, they would continue to fire as commanded.
With arrows flying from everywhere at extremely close range, the battlefield became really dangerous.
Since the puppets couldn’t aim, the arrows were loosed randomly.
Naturally, some of the arrows hit their fellow puppets too.
Being struck by the arrows of fellow puppets, cleaved by the enemy, and kicked by men and horses alike damaged their magic circuits, and caused even more puppets to fall silent.
The casualties of the enemy were also increasing. The wooden puppets rolling on the ground and the injured who fell, were trampled by the horses and men who came from behind.
The puppets performed better than expected in the chaotic battle.
With their shots parallel to the ground, they hit the soldiers’ feet.
The armour on their legs was thin.
Arrows that hit would be deeply embedded, and made them fall.
Even though the wounds weren’t mortal, troops that couldn’t run or walk were in no shape to fight.
It turned into a battle of attrition.
Even though it was that kind of fight, even more puppets were falling.
There were about 70 enemies left, but less than 50 puppets left standing.
Among them were puppets with magic circuits so heavily damage that they couldn’t move at all.
The vanguard of the enemy had already made it past the wooden puppets.
If they broke through completely and regrouped, it would be rather troubling.
Riding on his steed, Naga galloped towards the men that broke through.
The Kasandora soldiers, who had to give their all to fight the puppets, didn’t notice Naga and the others, who were waiting behind the puppets.
The troops raised their head in surprise when they heard the hoofbeats of horses, only to find Naga and Ixine’s horses right before them.
Taking the reins with his left hand and swinging his blade with his right, Naga sent the heads of the enemies flying.
“It’s the enemy!”
“Why are the witches attacking on horseback!?”
The sudden attack from the two horses sent the soldiers who had broken through the puppets into chaos once more.
Kay, who jumped down from the horse, also started attacking the soldiers nearby.
Her fists were just like metal, anyone who was hit on the head would definitely faint.
Anyone kicked in the knees would definitely have their kneecaps shattered.
Even though Kay’s body was hardened, she didn’t have the strength of Ais, and couldn’t send her foes flying with just a touch.
Her attacks would be less effective if she hit their armour, and her adversaries would be able to bear the impact.
When the enemy counterattacked with swords, Kay would block the blades with her bare wrist.
“What is with this girl!?”
“You guys are rude!”
When their blade snapped in two, any soldiers who stood dumbfounded would taste Kay’s fists.
As expected, it was a one punch K.O.
Kay showed her might and disrupted the enemy formation, allowing Naga and Ixine to charge in with their horses.
Cu used her belts to grab enemies.
The enemy soldiers who couldn’t move were cut down by Naga as he rode by.
Ixine used fire magic to attack the enemy, and then got out of the chaotic battlefield immediately.
She couldn’t fight in a melee battle.
Or rather, most witches couldn’t handle hand to hand combat.
Kay and Cu, who could duke it out calmly with their adversaries, were the exception.
Nenel and Harlequin watched the battle a short distance away.
More and more soldiers broke through the puppets’ formation.
As expected, there weren’t many puppets left.
Those who made it through were assaulted by Nenel and Harlequin’s magic attacks.
They weren’t able to use large scale magic in a chaotic battle.
One misstep and they would hit their own allies.
And if they hit Naga, who probably didn’t have any magic resistance, it would be terrible.
Hence the two of them took care of the simple task of attacking with small scale spells.
Harrigan, who had given up on the puppets, also joined the fray.
She cut off some of her own hair, turned the strands hard and spiky, and then threw it at the enemies, making the soldiers fall one after another.
Unlike Kay and Cu, Harrigan didn’t have outstanding defensive capabilities and couldn’t throw herself into the melee. She kept her at a distance and attacked from range with her hair.
Taking care not to hit Naga, Cu, and Kay, who had charged into the midst of the enemy, Harrigan’s attacks diminished their adversaries’ numbers drastically.
At this moment, a large fireball appear above the enemy.
That was Lela’s magic.
“What is that!?”
With Naga, Cu, and Kay fighting amidst the enemy, she couldn’t hit them with her fireball. But just tossing a few of them out was enough to confuse them.
And finally, the last blow. No, it should be the last person.
Yuuki, on her air hoverboard high above the sky, could be seen descending at amazing speed.
She might have came a bit too early, but she was in the nearby vicinity of the river, observing the battle to see if it was proceeding smoothly.
“Oh, she’s here!”
Naga cheered when he saw Yuuki.
The enemy was holding swords and shields, no one was holding bows.
In a situation like this, Yuuki was nigh invincible.
“Dance of wind blades!”
Strong winds surrounded the rapidly descending Yuuki.
Several wind blades appeared and flew towards the ground rapidly.
The blades were so sharp that it could slice open any armour.
A few bloodied soldiers fell.
Assaulted by Yuuki from the sky, cut down by Naga’s blade, grabbed by Cu’s belts, and pummelled by Kay’s punches and kicks. Nenel, Harlequin, and Harrigan’s magic on top of that sapped the enemy’s will to fight.
“Seems that will be it.”
The captain of the 1st captain turned his horse around after seeing the fierce attacks of the witches.
His lieutenants, who were fighting in the vicinity, retreated together with their captain.
When the remaining soldiers realized their captain had fled, they started to run too.
The 3rd company captain was killed in action, his body nowhere to be found.
“Great! The enemies have fled!”
Seeing the rest of the soldiers turning tail and running, Kay clapped happily.
Kay was still energetic, but the other witches were panting hard.
They mustn’t push themselves.
They routed the enemy in the end, but they will be back after gathering their wits.
“I will pursue that captain! It’s fine to ignore the other soldiers.”
Naga rode with Cu on the horse, turning it around after grabbing the reins. Kicking the horse with his feet, he put his hands onto the head of the horse.
“Ah, I will go too! Hear that, Ixine!?”
Kay waved, and Ixine came to her on horseback.
“Let me get on, follow Naga quick!”
Ixine pulled Kay up and chased Naga in a hurry.
Naga and Ixine’s horses were not some famous breed, but they didn’t sprint all out in the battle, and still had stamina left.
On the other hand, the horses of the captain and his four lieutenants were already exhausted after being worked hard.
They gradually pulled closer.
A familiar voice came from the sky and Naga made an annoyed face.
“I won’t allow you to hog all the fun!”
Flying a few yards above Naga’s galloping horses, Yuuki waved as she flew at a matching speed.
“Not just me, Ixine and Kay came too.”
“Like I said! I am the type who leave the best prey for last!”
“Ahh, alright, alright.”
“Come along, but be careful.”
“You don’t need to tell me that!”
Naga grabbed the reins with his left hand.
Yuuki increased her mana output.
Ixine and Kay’s horse was right behind them.
The Lieutenants they were catching up with turned to look with shocked eyes.
That was expected.
There was actually a man in the witches camp.
Earlier, they didn’t have time to observe Naga closely and only focused on the battle at hand.
A Lieutenant relaxed his hold on the reins too much due to shock and his horse slowed down.
Naga used that chance to catch up.
“What are you…”
Naga swung his sword in silence.
The head of the Lieutenant separated from his body and flew into the air.
His body trembled and fell to the ground.
The other four gulped.
Not just the enemy, even Cu, who shared a horse with him, and Yuuki, who was flying in the air, gulped.
“W-What happened, who is that fellow!?”
“Why is there a man among the witches!?”
“Who are you!?”
Ignoring the shouts from his foes, Naga moved towards another horse.
The man swung his sword in a panic, but his wrist was caught by Cu’s belt.
The belt remained tight despite his effort to break free.
“Ohh, sorry Cu.”
“Please don’t, mind.”
Naga drew near and swung his blade.
Separating the head of the man from his body.
Cu released the hold of her belt and the man tumbled onto the ground.
Two of the men didn’t dare to look back, fleeing on their horse with all of their might.
But one person stayed behind and drew the sword on his waist.
He still had fighting spirit.
This man was the captain, Naga’s target.
At this moment, Ixine’s horse finally caught up.
“Wah, is that a one on one duel?”
Kay muttered, and Ixine nodded her head repeatedly.
“We can’t get in the way.”
They kept a distance away and watch Naga and the enemy, who were facing off against each other.
Yuuki, who was on the air hoverboard, didn’t interfere either, and merely gulped.
The captain took a stance with his sword in front of him asked calmly:
“Are you a witch too?”
“Me? I am just a human.”
“Why are you in league with the witches!?”
“Well, to repay them the debt of a meal and a night of lodging.”
The man looked confused for the first time.
“What kind of reason…”
“You were really brave while directing the battle. I like that. So, are you willing to surrender?”
When he heard what Naga said, the man’s baffled expression gradually faded.
“Don’t look down on me. You’re an enemy of god and men, you dog of the witches!”
Naga smiled wryly and whispered to Cu behind him:
“He really hates you girls.”
“That man, hates witches. I, hate him too.”
Cu’s tone expressed her disgust.
“You are a human, but you have turned on your own kind, a grave sin!”
The captain sneered at Naga.
Naga laughed heartily.
“Is that so? Seems like talking anymore would be a waste of breath.”
“I am Edwards, the captain of the 1st company, 2nd battalion from the Kasandora Kingdom’s dark forest invasion campaign! Say your prayers to the holy spirits! Confess your sins to god and beg for his mercy!”
Naga reached for the talisman Lela stuck onto the back of his neck.
(I don’t know what he is saying, but he is probably stating his name and title.)
Naga responded to his opponent on reflex and shouted:
“My name is Oda Saburo Nobunaga! Take the name of your killer to hell with you!”
(Huh, is that true?)
The three people who were watching this scene a short distance away open their eyes wide from surprise.
‘Naga’ means ‘Dragon King’, but with the term ‘Noble’ before it, it would mean ‘Holy Dragon King’.
The three of them were shocked.
The moment Cu heard Naga state his name, she grabbed onto the neck of the horse tightly.
(Oda Saburo Noble Naga? That’s his name?)
With such a grand name, it was only natural for the witches to win overwhelmingly, Cu sighed.
On the other hand, Yuuki shook her head strongly, as if she was trying to chase away a nightmare.
(No no no, impossible impossible. There is no way this lecherous man is the ‘holy dragon king’! He just remembered his name and is stating it, right?”
Yuuki thought as Naga locked eyes with the enemy captain once again.
“Cu, I want to duel with that guy, can you get off for now?”
Cu shifted her body hurriedly and jumped off the horse.
“Don’t need to interfere.”
Cu nodded quietly and retreated to the back.
Naga stared at the captain once again.
The air about them had a tension that made others stiff.
The palms of the witches were sweating.
The next instant, both men charged their horses towards each other.
Naga and Edwards swung their blades and the sharp clang of metal echoed.
Edwards held a thin sword, Naga’s blade was not much sturdier.
After their blades clashed a few times, both weapons were half ruined.
Edwards tossed aside his sword, attempting to take out his back up short sword from his clothes, but he was too late.
Naga pushed forward on his horse and swung his blade.
Edwards’ head flew into the air.
His headless body sprayed blood high into the air, and collapsed lifeless from his horse.
Naga’s martial skills made Ixine and Kay open their eyes wide.
Naga swung his blade to clear the blood on it, and returned it to the sheath on his left hip. He looked up into the sky, and then at Ixine and Kay’s horse.
“No point in staying here. Let’s go back.”
“Ah… Ahh, erm…”
Ixine and Kay snapped out of their trance and locked eyes with Yuuki.
Naga rode to Cu’s side and reach his hand out to her.
Cu reached out for Naga too.
Naga grabbed her hand and pulled Cu up onto the horse.
Cu was lighter than he expected, and her body was pulled close to Naga because he used too much strength.
Cu couldn’t straddle onto the saddle, and was instead pulled to Naga’s side into a pseudo-embrace.
It felt like the two were hugging each other.
The two looked at each other awkwardly.
Yuuki’s angry roar came in no time.
“W-Wait! What are the two of you so embarrassed about!?”
Cu changed her body position that was intimately close to Naga’s. Straddling the horse and putting her feet into the foot rest, she grabbed the neck of the horse and sat on the saddle.
Kay and Ixine smiled mischievously when they saw Cu’s expression.
“Are you okay, Cu?”
“… I’m fine.”
Cu had her back to Naga, and replied curtly as usual. Her usual poker face seemed rather red… That seemed to be all.
“Let’s go then.”
Naga pulled on the reins, and the horse carrying the two riders started moving.
Yuuki used her air hoverboard hurriedly, Ixine also pulled her reins.
Yuuki made the Hoverboard fly really low and move side by side with Naga’s horse in no time.
Naga slowed down to let Ixine catch up.
“What is it Yuuki? My fight just now wasn’t just luck. Isn’t that right, Cu?”
“Who is asking you about that!? You stated your name just now, so that is your name? You remembered?”
Naga looked at Yuuki in surprise.
“Name? My name?”
“Huh? Isn’t that your name?”
Yuuki looked at Ixine and Kay behind her.
“Yup, you stated your name.”
Kay raised her hand.
Naga asked, and Kay stared at him with a regrettable expression on her face.
“Really. I heard it very clearly okay?”
Yuuki turned her head back.
“Don’t you remember?”
Yuuki asked. Naga held onto his reins and tilted his head.
“Nope… No impression of that.”
“Idiot. Not only did you lose your memory, even your short term memory is regressing. Aren’t you just an idiot?”
“Hahaha, maybe you are right.”
After Naga laughed for a while, he switched back to a serious expression and said:
“What name did I say?”
“Eh, I remember it’s Oda Saburo Noble Naga… Right?”
Yuuki looked back.
“Ah, that’s right, that’s the name. Oda Saburo Noble Naga.”
“Oda Saburo Noble Naga?”
Naga tilted his head again.
“That’s my name?”
“That’s what I want to ask.”
Yuuki replied, Naga tilted his head and looked behind baffled.
At this moment, Kay waved at him.
“No no, that’s just what I heard. I will feel troubled if you look at me with such a serious face.”
Naga turned back and held the reins with his head tilted.
“Hmm– I think I heard that somewhere before.”
Yuuki said with a blank expression.
“You are still the same.”
“Since I said it so naturally, it shouldn’t be a joke. That should be my name then. I will probably remember more a while later.”
“You better control yourself.”
Yuuki looked at him with an accusatory gaze, making Naga feel uneasy.
“Well, isn’t that fine? What happened here was like sending a smoke signal, the main forces behind won’t cross the river now. We will end today’s battle with our victory.”
Naga’s words made Yuuki face turn doubtful.
“Is it, over? Will the war continue?”
Yuuki asked, and Ixine pressed further:
“That’s right. There are still more than a thousand enemies, right? They really won’t cross the river and attack again?”
Not just Ixine, even Kay and Yuuki tilted their head.
“Because the utter defeat today was enough to make them afraid.”
“The soldiers are too afraid to move?”
“Something like that, the main thing is that even the commander in chief fears us, Yuuki.”
Yuuki used a ‘do you get it?’ kind of gaze to looked at Kay and Ixine, who shook their heads in silence.
“Humans are afraid of your magic. And it was a complete defeat for them. They are afraid that they’ll be wiped out if they continue to fight. Then they won’t be able to defend their capital. That’s what they are afraid of. If the army is destroyed, the commander in chief would need to take responsibility. That’s what they are afraid of. That’s why, they won’t go any further unless they have the resolve.”
“Is… Is that so.”
“Ahh, that’s right. The Kasandora army that is in such a state won’t attack the dark forest for quite some time. And so, this is your victory.”
After Naga finished saying that, Yuuki squeezed out a smile and averted her face in a clumsy manner.
“Y-You are right. Not just us, the victory belongs to you and us…”
Naga opened his eyes wide with an “Oh?”
“Is that so, Yuuki acknowledges my effort too.”
“W-W-What nonsense are you saying! Who acknowledged you… You might have contributed just a little. Or rather, you thought up the battle plan.”
Naga nodded with a hum.
“Is that so?”
“But nothing more.”
“Hey─ Wait─ I also did my best and contributed, okay─?”
On the horse behind, Kay raised her hand and shouted.
“Ahhh, I get it I get it. Kay, Ixine, Yuuki, Cu, and everyone else did great. It’s not the accomplishment of just one person. We won because everyone worked and fought hard together. This victory belongs to everyone, and is also a victory for the Harrigan clan.”
Cu, who was swaying with the horse, showed a rare smile. Because her back was facing Naga, he didn’t notice.
Yuuki stood on the air hoverboard with her arms crossed, looking down on Naga with a lofty attitude.
“Hmmp, it’s good that you put your heart into this. If you keep this up, I don’t mind you being the bottom member of our clan.”
Kay and Ixine, who were on the horse behind them, laughed.
“Hey Yuuki, your attitude is like that of a tribal chieftain, you know?”
“Well, it’s Yuuki after all.”
Yuuki’s face blushed as she turned her body on the air hoverboard after uncrossing her arms.
“You there, what did you just say?”
“Nothing~~ Right, Ixine?”
“Nothing at all~~”
“Don’t look down on me, want me to cut you into pieces?”
“Wah~~ How scary~~”
Kay put her hands on her head and twisted about in an exaggerated manner.
After laughing for a while, Naga called out to the three of them.
“Okay, let’s go back to Harrigan, the other witches should be gathered by now.”
Naga spurred the horse gently and pulled the reins.
The horse carrying Naga and Cu sped up immediately and left Yuuki in the dust.
Yuuki increased the speed of the air hoverboard, Ixine pulled on the reins in a hurry too.
The four of them, riding their horses, and Yuuki, on her air board, turned into specks in the distance as they disappeared into the wilderness.