Kay brought dinner in, and ate it together with Naga and Raibach.
Kay tried to chat with Raibach as they ate, but his replies were halfhearted.
“Tch. How boring.” Kay complained and kept the cutlery.
“Don’t hold back on your requests, Raibach. Aside from undoing your ropes or letting you escape, anything else would be fine.”
“No… I don’t have any requests.”
“How about massaging my feet, Kay?”
“What? I am asking Raibach, why are you making such overboard demands as if this was natural, Naga? That is so strange.”
Naga laughed in response to Kay’s retort.
“Just kidding, don’t be mad.”
“I’m not mad.”
“Then help me massage.”
“Huh? Are you joking with me!?”
“Of course I’m kidding.”
Kay snatched Naga’s plate away.
“Alright, I’m cleaning up.”
“Ah, there’s still a bit left…”
“I. am. cleaning. up.”
As Naga was smiling wryly, thumping footsteps came from the corridor outside.
“Hmm? Harrigan Nee-san?”
“Harrigan wouldn’t be walking so agitatedly.”
“That’s true, did Ais get angry?”
Naga waved his hand with his face turning green.
“We didn’t do anything to anger Ais.”
“That’s true, then…”
When Kay turned to the entrance, the footfalls stop. The door was then opened violently; revealing Yuuki with the corners of her eyes raised greatly.
“I heard that we captured a soldier of the Kasandora Army!?”
Kay responded affirmatively because of the pressure from Yuuki.
“I will kill him.”
Yuuki’s expression turned into rage and a strange light shone from her eyes.
“I will kill him in the cruelest way possible.”
Raibach opened his eyes wide and stared at the vile-mouthed Yuuki. He knew that Yuuki wasn’t joking, but he wasn’t afraid as he stared at Yuuki with a lost expression.
“Eh, what the hell are you saying, Yuuki?”
“You are the one speaking nonsense, Kay. Why didn’t you kill the enemy immediately!?”
“In order to gather intel.”
“Do you need to treat him like a guest when doing that?”
“I’m not doing that.”
“Yes you are, you’re letting him stay here and even prepared an entire set of bedding. If you are trying to get intel, why not torture him!? Did he spill the beans already?”
“No, he is still thinking about it.”
“Huh? Why give him that choice? We don’t have the time to wait, let me handle it. I will make him spit out the information we need. Let me think… I will cut off his fingers one by one. To prevent him from dying because of blood loss, I will cauterize the wounds with a burning iron plate. He will definitely give in after cutting off two or three fingers. If he won’t, I will cut off all his fingers and toes, and he will beg me to kill him. When he spills everything, I will take his life if he asks, and it’ll all be settled.”
The agitated Yuuki spoke passionately as she took a couple of steps forward.
“I will handle this, so back off, Kay.”
“Eh, don’t decide that on your own, Yuuki.”
Kay also took a step forward to block Yuuki.
“Are you planning to stop me? Kay?”
“If Harrigan Nee-san and Naga don’t give you permission, I advise you not to be reckless.”
Yuuki cast a glance at Naga who had crossed his arms with a serious expression and showed no intention to speak. After confirming that, Yuuki turned back and faced Kay again.
“You… are helping the humans?”
“I don’t mean to do so, and don’t do anything that will spoil the image of witches.”
“If you don’t back off, I will cut you to pieces.”
“Hmmpf! Do it if you can. Your wind blades can’t harm me!”
The skin on Kay’s exposed limbs started turning grey.
“You think you are tough enough to take my wind blades!?”
“Go on, try me.”
“Why are you protecting that guy!?”
Yuuki was furious as she pointed to Raibach, behind Kay.
“This man is one of the soldiers who are always trying to kill us! Why let him live!?”
At this moment, Raibach suddenly asked:
“Ah, let me ask you.”
Yuuki’s body stiffened.
“W-What!? Don’t think of begging for your life!”
“Was your family killed by us… by the Army of the Kasandora Kingdom?”
“Not by the soldiers of the Kingdom, but…” Yuuki answered softly, but then lost her composure. “It’s humans! Humans gathered everyone and massacred them!”
Raibach watched Yuuki and his brow twitched.
“I see, you have a tragic past too. No wonder you hate humans. If you are bent on killing me… Please do so.”
Bafflement flashed across Yuuki’s face for a moment, but she puffed her chest with an arrogant look in no time.
“Look, even the subject himself said so. So let me do it.”
“Eh, why did you say that, Raibach!?”
“Kay, you don’t need to protect him, get out of the way.”
“You two… Kay, Yuuki- you two are comrades, so don’t quarrel over someone like me.”
“Ahhh, that’s why… Ahhh—! So troublesome!” Kay grabbed her head exasperatedly. “My head isn’t that good; I can’t process something so complicated~~”
After holding her head and squatting for a while, she stood up. “I still think Yuuki shouldn’t kill this man. I will stop you.”
“Damn it…” Yuuki cursed angrily. “If you dare to stop me, I will really cut you to shreds.”
“Try it if you can.”
Kay’s grey skin turned silver with a metallic luster.
“What’s with the din? I have a morning shift tomorrow and need to sleep early, so stop with the noise.”
Harlequin said so casually when she popped up at the door. Noticing the tense atmosphere in the room, she stood stiff on the spot.
“Y-Y-You two, what are you doing?”
Yuuki and Kay glared at each other and ignored the baffled Harlequin. An intense fighting aura welled up about them.
Naga said all of a sudden.
“W-What is it. Even if you try to lecture me… Eh, what are you doing?”
Yuuki turned her face towards Naga and found him kneeling on the floor with his forehead on the ground. She was shocked and took a large step back.
“What… the hell are you doing!?”
“I don’t know why you hate humans so much, and cannot understand how you feel. But in order to create a world where witches can live a happy life, this man is necessary. So can you please bear with it? I’m begging you.” Naga pleaded with her while on his knees.
Yuuki looked down at the back of Naga’s head with a shocked face. She didn’t expect Naga to kneel down to her for a man he didn’t even know.
“I-Is the information this guy has that important!?”
Naga raised his head slowly and looked up at Yuuki.
“I will only know if it is important after hearing it, but it might be very important. If I can gain critical intel, we will be able to seize Fort Ein without sacrificing any witches or humans.”
Yuuki looked at Naga with a face of doubt, but her anger had been soothed a lot.
“W-Why do you care about the lives of those inhuman soldiers!? If we kill all of them, we can cut down the enemy’s numbers.”
“That might be true for the current situation, but taking the future into consideration, not having any sacrifices would be advantageous for us.”
Yuuki showed a troubled expression.
“I-I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“It’s fine if you don’t understand, but can you trust me this once?”
“How could I trust someone like you!?”
“Ehh, that’s too harsh, Yuuki.” Kay interjected. “Naga saved us when we were in danger. If not for him, we would have been chased out of the dark forest long ago.”
“Eh… T-That’s true.”
“My head isn’t good, and I can’t analyze the situation, nor predict future developments. But I trust Naga. Since he said so, let’s leave this to him.”
Yuuki glared first at Kay as she said that, then Naga, and finally Raibach. She then turned around abruptly and left in a huff.
Yuuki’s fierce expression intimidated Harlequin, and she made way for her.
Just like the time she came, Yuuki stomped through the corridor when she left. Seeing her back disappear into the distance, Harlequin turned back and asked Kay: “What happened?”
“Well, it’s a long story. Where do I start…?”
Kay looked towards Naga for help.
“I will explain this to Harlequin later. I have something to ask Raibach, and it would be better if Harrigan and Ais are present. They didn’t show up even after that ruckus. Did they turn in already?”
“Eh, I think Ais is out on patrol.”
“I see, she would have stopped Yuuki if she was here.”
(Or maybe not, she might even escalate things. Ais can’t control herself when she loses her temper, it would be an explosive scene if Yuuki retaliates.)
Kay thought about it, but didn’t say it out loud, afraid that someone would snitch on her.
“Harrigan nee-san should be in the fort, should I bring her over?” After Kay said that, Harrigan’s voice could be heard saying, “Why is Yuuki in the First Fort!?”
“Ohh, speak of the devil.”
Kay sighed in relief, thinking that she had washed her hands clean of the troublesome matter.
Most of the witches garrisoned here had gathered in the biggest room inside the fort. Naturally, Naga and Raibach were also present.
The witches around Raibach were:
And of course, Yuuki was absent. The sisters, Linne and Linna, were on guard duty, thus not in the room.
After receiving Harrigan’s pigeon message, Lela immediately rushed to the First Fort on horseback behind Mimone.
Harrigan sighed softly after hearing Kay’s report.
“That’s why I didn’t want Yuuki to know about this.”
When Lela received the pigeon message, Yuuki was just setting off from the Third Fort. In the confusion, she found out about Kay capturing a human soldier, so she rushed here on her hoverboard alone.
“Forget it… No, we are not done yet. Getting detailed intelligence from that man takes priority… right, Naga?”
“That’s true.” Naga replied with a troubled face.
“Didn’t that man say he would consider giving us information about the fort? Did something change while we were gathering?”
“Aside from the detailed information about the fort, there is one thing I am very concerned with.”
“What is that?”
Harrigan prompted him to continue. Naga shifted his stool and faced Raibach.
“Raibach, you seemed surprised when Yuuki appeared just now. There are plenty of witches here that are unknown to you, but why did Yuuki surprised you so much?”
“Ah… Huh~~ you have sharp eyes.”
Raibach’s vision wavered and he stretched out his right hand to scratch his head. He then recounted his tale slowly.
“I had a daughter.”
Raibach said something unrelated, making Naga and the other witches to look at him puzzledly.
“If she were still alive, she would probably be about the age of you two.” Raibach said as he pointed at Nonoel and Kay. “It doesn’t sound convincing for a parent to say this, but she really was a cute kid.”
They were actually not interested in Raibach’s personal affairs. Naga and Harrigan looked at each other, hesitating about whether to stop him or not.
“When I was out on a campaign once, the barbarians invaded at the city I lived in, ravaged the streets and killed the citizens.”
Naga and Harrigan were shocked and turned their heads away.
“I couldn’t find the remains of my wife and daughter in the end. There were thousands of charred corpses in the streets, and I think my family was probably murdered there.”
“I can empathize with you, but right now we are…”
Raibach continued in a calm tone as if he didn’t hear what Harrigan said:
“That witch just now, the one who was shouting about wanting to kill me, is Yuuki, right?”
“Yuuki is hard to get along with, but she has her circumstances. If she made you feel uncomfortable, let me apologize…”
“No, that’s not it.” Raibach raised his head, his expression strange and complicated. “That girl looks really similar to my dead daughter.”
He looked up to the roof, his eyes far away.
“My dead daughter is actually alive and appeared before me. That thought occurred to me for an instant, surprising me.”
Raibach said sadly, but Harrigan’s reply was cold.
“My condolences for your loss, but she is a witch, not your daughter.”
“That’s true, I know that very well too, but… They really look identical, it’s like my daughter who survived somewhere appeared, so I…”
Raibach said passionately, but stopped midway.
“…I …I” He turned his gaze back from the ceiling, tears falling from his eyes.
“I won’t have any complaints if that girl kills me, my daughter must have hated me the same way. If I didn’t go off to fight a war in that dangerous time, and stayed with my wife and daughter, they would still be alive today.”
Harrigan wasn’t sure how to respond and kept quiet. Naga couldn’t say anything and watched him without a word. It was the same for the other witches. The entire room fell silent.
“Dragon King, you mentioned about creating a world where humans and witches cohabit in peace. If it succeeds, will the fighting between humans cease?”
Naga said confidently with a gentle smile on his face: “What a silly question.”
“If Witches and humans can be at peace, so can humans and humans.”
“That make sense. If you can create such a world and craft such a future, there won’t be children like Elena, who are killed at such a young age.”
“Your daughter is named Elena?”
“Yes, her name’s Elena. Ahh, Elena.”
Raibach buried his face in his hands.
“She must have been so scared, and suffered so much and… been hoping I would come to save them. But… I…”
Raibach curled up and sniffling sounds escaped from his lips. Naga, Harrigan, and the other witches did not say anything to console him, and his cries filled the entire room. A short time later, Raibach put down his hands. He turned to Naga with tears on his face.
“Hey, Dragon King. Can you really create a world where Humans and Witches can live in harmony? A place where humans and humans won’t fight with each other?”
“Of course I can… is what I want to say, but regrettably, I can’t make this promise lightly. I can only say that I will do my best. Doing all we can is important. If we don’t work hard, we won’t be able to make this brand new world a reality, and pave our future.”
(Can’t make this promise lightly, huh? That means he views this very seriously. Maybe this man can really create a world like that.)
Raibach didn’t have or want a dream. Maybe it’s because his memories of his family made him sad, or maybe he was compelled by the hope that doing this will lessen his self reproach.
Raibach wiped away the tears on his face.
“If I tell you the details of the fort, there won’t be any sacrifices?”
Naga didn’t nod; he just puffed his chest out.
“I can’t guarantee that there wouldn’t be any, but the chances are high.”
“I am not hoping for zero deaths, but can you promise to keep casualties to a minimum?”
When he heard that, Naga nodded firmly.
“Alright, I promise. I will seize the fort by utilizing a method without deaths.”
“In that case… I will tell you.”
Raibach provided them with the required intel regarding the fort. But after the witches heard his tragic past, none of them showed any signs of glee.
Raibach explained the structure of the fort and the placement of the guards in great detail.
Lela noted down the important points on a parchment as he spoke.
After he was done, Raibach added:
“The guard commander of the fort is a man named Baldkeist; he was one of the close subordinates of former General Geobalk, who took responsibility for the failed campaign and resigned. Similar to me, he was assigned to garrison the fort as cannon fodder. On the other hand, he isn’t too loyal to the new general, Guiscard, and won’t fight to the end if something does happen… That’s how I feel.”
“I see; this information is a great help.”
Naga smiled and turned his head.
“Harrigan, I have something to discuss with you.”
“Hmm? Oh, alright.”
Harrigan nodded, faced Kay and ordered:
“Bring that man back to his room. Nonoel will stand guard with you, so Yuuki won’t come and stir up trouble.”
“Understood, Harrigan Nee-san.”
Kay and Nonoel left the room with Raibach while Naga and Harrigan moved into another room. They sat on stools and faced each other.
“Do you think his words can be trusted?”
After sitting down, Naga asked. Harrigan crossed her arms as she sat on the stool, answering thoughtfully:
“He doesn’t seem to be lying, at least he is not lying to us blatantly. What do you think, Naga?”
“I agree with your opinion. When he was talking about his daughter, his tears were real.”
“That’s right. Assuming everything he was true, do you have any good ideas?”
Naga nodded seriously.
“It should work.”
“It will work? Really!?”
“The most important part of the plan is to get Elysione or Vita near the fort. From what we heard about the structure of the fort, there isn’t a need to infiltrate the it; just being near the walls would be enough.”
“That would mean sending Elysione first, right?”
“This is the safest and simplest way, but letting Vita approach the fort herself, without Elysione, is also an option.”
“That is true, but Vita doesn’t have much defense. She could manipulate weight to guard herself, but if she does that, even we won’t be able to go near the fort.”
“That shouldn’t be a problem.”
“How do you plan to solve this?”
“We have people who can launch ranged attacks. I plan to use this method to tie up the enemy’s forces, then distract them, and use the chances to approach.”
Harrigan thought about it for a moment and turned her face back.
“The long range attacker is Ais?”
“That’s right, Ais’ stone throwing attack is very powerful, and she can attack from outside the range of normal bows. It would be hard for the defending soldiers to handle her.”
“Won’t they leave the fort and sally forth?”
“The enemy are witches, and you think they would dare to send two hundred soldiers to counterattack?”
Harrigan shook her head, as that make sense.
“I don’t think they have the guts.”
“If they move out in full force and leave the fort empty, that will play into my hands. If Ais, Lela and Yuuki keep attacking from a distance, they should be able to intimidate them and keep their attention. Vita can use the chance to approach.”
“Is doing that alright? Vita is a crucial figure in this operation, isn’t she? If she gets injured, wouldn’t the entire plan be ruined?”
“You are right, but logically speaking, Vita won’t be taking too big of a risk.”
“…I hope so.”
“But just to be safe, we should prepare Elysione’s cloak so it can be used at a moment’s notice.”
Harrigan leaned forward and asked:
“Specifically speaking, how are you planning to take the fort?”
“Here’s what I plan to do.”
Naga then explained to Harrigan the details of the strategy to capture the fort.
“First will be Ais and the duo of Yuuki and Lela, who will attack at long range from two different places. Let’s set them to the west and south. Ais will throw rocks and Yuuki will carry Lela and her talismans into the sky above the fort, before making them burst into flames as she tosses them down. That way, the defending soldiers will fall into confusion.”
“Once the soldiers focus their attention on them, Kay will use this chance to charge to the eastern wall, and of course, bring Elysione’s cloak with her. If she hardens her body, the soldiers won’t be able to harm her no matter how many arrows they shoot. Once she has reached the wall, she needs to place the cloak down. The soldiers in the fort won’t leave the fort just to take the cloak, since they are under the witches’ attack.”
“When Vita uses her spell, it will be best to gather the defending forces in the east. So after Kay puts down the cloak, the participating witches will need to show themselves. Ais will stop and Yuuki will retreat. That should get the soldiers, who still have the strength to defend, to gather on the eastern walls.”
“Once Kay has put down the cloak, Elysione will immediately bring Vita to the wall. Kay will then withdraw temporarily… No, I figure she should stay put, and act as Elysione and Vita’s guard.”
“Once Vita teleports to the wall, she will begin her spell immediately. As for the structure of the fort, assuming the information given by Raibach is correct, almost all of the soldiers should be unable to move. If not all, then at least 80% of them should be incapacitated. When Vita uses her spell, Elysione won’t be able to move either, she’ll have to bear with it then.”
“We will leave the north alone, and attack from the west and the south. We will then close in from the east. This is to show the fort soldiers that there are no threats from the north. This is to give the soldiers the impression that, ‘we won’t be able to escape if we are completely surrounded, let’s run while we are still able to do so.’”
“When Vita uses the spell ‘Song of Gravity’ and captures all the soldiers gathered on the eastern side, we need to find a way to tie up these soldiers, so they won’t be able to move freely when the spell is released. To prevent Vita from being attacked by soldiers outside her range, Ais would need to attack more fiercely.
“Wait a moment, Naga.”
Harrigan raised her hand to stop Naga’s explanation.
“You mentioned tying up the soldiers while they are immobile, but how do you do that specifically? We witches can’t resist Vita’s magic and enter the range of her spell. Our bodies will become heavy and we won’t be able to move if we go in, so how can we tie up the soldiers… Why are you staring so intensely at my body!?”
“Vita’s magic will increase a person’s original weight by two or three times, correct? Compared to Lela and Kay, it would be hard for you to move…”
*Knock knock knock*
“That really hurts! Don’t keep hitting me with your hair!”
The teary Naga leapt backwards from his stool to dodge the attack. Harrigan pulled her head of hardened hair back, but her eyes were full of fury as she glared at Naga.
“You are not considerate towards girls at all.”
“No such thing, I am famous for being considerate… probably.”
“You actually have the cheeks to say that.”
Harrigan blew her top once again and Naga waved his hands in front of him hurriedly.
“Alright, I know, it’s my fault.”
“Sorry”— Naga lowered his head in apology, and Harrigan’s hair fell onto her shoulders. Naga returned to his seat when he saw that.
“Alright, back to the topic.” Harrigan said grudgingly, after Naga sat properly.
“Ais might be able to move after Vita casts her spell, but that would take all her strength. It will also take a long time to bind the three hundred soldiers in the fort, and I don’t think Vita’s spell can last that long.”
“Speaking of which, she didn’t mention how long her spell could last.”
“This is her personal secret. The better known one’s magic is, the bigger the disadvantage. Not all witches live harmoniously with each other. More accurately speaking, most of us see each other as enemies.”
“I see, so even while facing the threat of being invaded by other nations, there are inter-tribe battles as well. I think I have heard something so regrettable in the past too.”
Naga was troubled.
(By the way, I have a feeling that this is something I experienced personally.)
“Something the matter?”
Naga looked at the ceiling deep in thought, and shook his head when Harrigan asked.
“There is a way to solve this problem.”
“There is a way!?”
Harrigan was shocked, and made an impressed expression.
“I see, as expected of Dragon King-sama.”
“Don’t mock me.”
“I’m not mocking you. Since there is a way, isn’t Fort Ein is as good as ours?”
Harrigan said confidently and Naga’s face turned serious.
“But there is a serious problem with this.”
“You mean there is a risk? But there is always some risk if we want to succeed, and our target is to take the fort without anyone dying or damaging the fort.”
“No, not that kind of danger.”
“The danger I am referring to is Yuuki. Specifically speaking, I am going to entrust her with a mission, but if I do that now, my life will probably be in danger…”
Naga sighed after saying that, and Harrigan laughed:
“What, so it’s that thing. I will order Yuuki to do it then.”
“I don’t think she will disobey if you give the word. No, that’s hard to say. Maybe she will resist strongly this time, since the main strategy involves sparing the lives of the Kasandora soldiers. Even if she agrees, she might screw things up as it goes against her will.”
“Hmm, that’s true.”
Harrigan, who didn’t get it in the beginning, finally raised her head.
“By the way—”
She asked Naga:
“What mission are you giving her? Is it difficult? Why must it be Yuuki? Her magic is powerful, it will be hard for her not to harm the enemies while suppressing them.”
“The mission I want to assign her isn’t difficult, and I have no plans to use her magic to subdue the enemy.”
Harrigan frowned and tilted her head.
“What… do you mean by that?”
“This is what I mean.”
Naga leaned towards the side of Harrigan’s face and whispered.
After finishing, Naga returned to his seat.
“I… I see, only Yuuki could do it.”
Harrigan groaned and was impressed.
“Not only will this method subdue the enemy soldiers without them resisting, it will also resolve the issue quickly, so there is no need to worry about how long her magic will holdout.”
(It was the same last time, with Naga proposing a well-thought-out strategy. Normally, one wouldn’t even think of utilizing Yuuki’s ability in such a way.)
Harrigan was becoming more impressed.
“But there is also a problem, since this method couldn’t be used against the soldiers inside the buildings.”
“Ahh!” Harrigan pounded her thigh with her fist.
“That’s true; this method won’t stop the soldiers inside the buildings.”
“If we can push as many soldiers as possible into Vita’s magic range, the problem would be solved.”
“And so, you need us to reveal ourselves at this point, so the enemy will think we are going to attack the fort?”
“That’s right.” Naga said with a nod.
“The plan is to induce most of the soldiers to gather near the walls or towers in their attempt to disrupt our attack, but I am not confident that we can draw all of them out. Maybe we have to subdue the soldiers inside the buildings by force, and this is something I don’t wish to see. It would be for the best if they run away the first chance they get, because of the fear of being rendered immobile by magic.”
When she heard Naga say that, Harrigan answered confidently:
“Even if they don’t run, we have about forty witches here; handling a hundred soldiers would not be a problem.”
“With your combat prowess, subduing half of the troops wouldn’t take much time. But I hope to minimize the losses as much as possible, for both the witches and the enemy.”
Harrigan seemed a little troubled.
“In that battle earlier, you showed no mercy to the enemy, but you insist on not harming the enemy this time. In order to get the intelligence from Raibach, you promised him that…. The reason doesn’t seem to be this simple, so can you explain why are you insisting on this?”
“Because—” Naga leaned forward and said:
“The goal of this battle is to seize Fort Ein intact, and to change how the humans evaluate witches.”
“The evaluation of most people about how witches are ‘violent and cold blooded’.”
Naga raised his right hand and stopped Harrigan who wanted to defend herself.
“I know. Anyone who has actually interacted with you all would know that isn’t true, barring those with extreme prejudice. But the humans who have never met you all before wouldn’t know.”
“Eh… t-that’s right.”
“This mindset has been ongoing for dozens of years. The truth isn’t important anymore, since humans already have a deep-rooted belief that this is the truth. And there are also things in this world that spread lies about the cruelty of the witches, for example: the church abusing the authority of god. This evaluation is already firmly set in their mind, am I right?”
Harrigan sighed heavily.
“Unfortunately… that is so.”
“So we just need to turn this evaluation around, for the sake of building a peaceful world for humans and witches.”
(T-This guy has a grand vision as usual.)
“The fort was taken; most of the soldiers were captured but did not lose their lives and were even released safely. I want to create this fact. Even if the Kasandora Kingdom tries to hush things up, the news will spread sooner or later as they can’t stop the people’s grapevines. Just the fact that the witches didn’t kill the soldiers would be enough to make the humans doubt their impression that the witches are ‘violent, cruel and merciless’. It might just be doubt in the beginning, and they might even question if that was the truth, but if this accumulates over the years, it will overturn the current evaluation one day.”
Harrigan answered with a soft mutter.
“You vision is wide, and you can see the future very well. I feel impressed every time I see this.”
“That’s too exaggerated; anyone can understand if they think about it in detail.”
(The problem is that no one can think about it in such detail.)
“But things aren’t so simple, we can’t just wait idly and hope the prevailing evaluation will be overturned someday. We have to actively spread this truth that runs contrary to their evaluation, and disperse the news widely.”
“W-We have to do something like that too?”
“Of course. In a way, war is a battle of intelligence. Obtaining accurate enemy intelligence and spreading news that is beneficial to our army, all of these are crucial factors in winning the final victory.”
“Dragon King-sama is good with tactics, and is underhanded in doing so.”
“I wasn’t expecting that.”
Naga wasn’t happy about that comment. Just then, Harrigan shouted “Alright!” and clapped her hands.
“I understand; we will proceed as you proposed. I will beg Yuuki to help us, and do my best to convince her.”
“I will accompany you and ask her too.”
“In that case…”
“What? Did you think of a good idea?”
“Let’s bring Vita along to plead with her.”
“…Is it fine to ask her for something like this?” Naga was confused.
“The future of both our clans depends on this, so she has to show up too.”
(Your personality is bad too.)
“You have any objections?”
“Eh, I want to confirm if we have that important thing.”
“We should have one or two of them, but their durability and toughness aren’t enough to subdue the enemy. And we will need multiple, so I’m thinking of remaking them.”
“Can you do that? This part requires intricate work to be done on it.”
“We have basically been providing for ourselves all this time, so making something like that is no big deal.”
“I will leave it to you then. So, how should we start?”
“Let me think. Let’s find Vita, and work from the outside in.”
“With you, Vita, and me lowering our heads to ask her, I don’t think Yuuki can reject us.”
“But like you said, it would be problematic if she did this unwillingly, so we have to really convince her, don’t we?”
“If it’s up to me…” Naga’s face became sullen.
“Who else can we entrust with this mission?”
“Ugh…. That’s true.”
“We will be going to Vita’s side tomorrow, let’s ask her then.”
“Alright, it’s settled then.”
The next day—
Naga and Harrigan visited Sraymeyer Fort right before noon, and had a conference with Vita in one of the rooms of the residential block.
Naga sat on a stool and explained his strategy, while Vita, who was also on a stool, didn’t say anything and listened carefully.
“… And this is the strategy I plan to use to take Fort Ein.”
After finishing his explanation, Naga stared at Vita as he finished speaking.
“Hmm, I see.” Vita crossed her arms and answered in a soft voice.
“If we used this method, not just us, even the enemy won’t suffer any casualties, and we can take the fort undamaged for our own use. It is a well-thought-out plan. But there are some elements of uncertainty.”
“That’s right, we have to confirm if the structure in the fort is just as Raibach described. Which is meant to clarify if the range of your magic can cover more than half of the fort. If there are any problems, we have to reconsider the entire plan.“
“And where to place Elysio’s cloak, as well as whether the enemy will fall for the trick and gather in the eastern part…”
“We can’t confirm where the enemy will be positioned, so we have to adjust our plan accordingly.”
“There’s another thing to confirm with you. Elysione mentioned she can teleport with one more person, right? This means she can teleport together with you?”
“Hmm? Oh, that can be done, it’s just that we never tried it before.” Vita said with a solemn face.
“That’s doesn’t sound confident, will it be harder to move if there’s two people? Or is there some other danger?”
“That’s not what I mean; it’s just that I will encounter something unpleasant along the way.”
Naga made a strange expression and pressed Vita:
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t mind it; anyway, Vita can teleport together with me, so you don’t need to worry about that.”
“In that case…”
Naga and Harrigan exchanged a look.
“The only problem left is Yuuki.”
“Yes, only Yuuki is left.”
“Yuuki is indeed a big problem. If we are to capture the enemy alive by using my magic, Yuuki’s participation is very important.”
Naga turned his face towards Vita and asked with a serious expression:
“Regarding this matter, I have a request for you, Vita.”
“What is it, why so serious?”
“Can you ask Yuuki for her help together with Harrigan and me?”
“What do you mean?”
Seeing Vita looking at him, Naga scratched his head.
“Actually, I am not very sure, but I heard her family was killed by the humans, and she really hates human men.”
“I have heard about her hating humans, but there are no witches who welcome men; Yuuki is no exception.”
Vita shifted her eyes towards Harrigan, who sighed softly and said:
“Her childhood experience left a deep trauma in her heart, so her hatred towards humans is exceptional among us. If the mission were to kill human soldiers, she would accept it, no matter how dangerous. But if it is to capture them alive, I’m not sure that she will cooperate.”
“Eh, so the two of you are planning to beg her?”
“Yes. Actually, we are hoping you could join us.”
Naga said. Vita pulled a long face of annoyance when she heard that.
“As the Sraymeyer Clan Head, why must I do that for a witch from your side?”
“This battle doesn’t only concern the fate of the Heindler Clan; it will also decide the future of your clan.”
“That’s true.” Vita looked into the distance and pondered for a moment. She then turned her head back. “Alright, I am not very willing, but I will lower my head along with you two and ask for her help.”
“Thank you very much.”
“Sorry for troubling you, Vita.”
Naga and Harrigan lowered their heads to Vita and thanked her.
“You mentioned the future of our clan, which is correct. If enduring for a moment will lead to a bright future for my clan, I won’t mind the hardships.”
“When do you plan to ask her?”
“Time is short; I hope to settle this tomorrow.”
“I see. I will visit your fort tomorrow morning to ask Yuuki then.”
“Thanks for the help.”
After that, the three continued discussing the strategy of attacking Fort Ein. After finishing for the day, Naga and Harrigan bid Vita farewell and returned to their fort.
The next morning—
Vita showed up at the fort as promised, bringing Elysione and another witch named Lilly.
She ordered Elysione and Lilly to standby in another room, and headed to the room where Naga, Harrigan, and Ais were waiting. As they would be asking Yuuki for help, Naga and Harrigan requested for Ais’ presence in case anything happened.
At this moment, Naga, Harrigan, Ais, and Vita sat in a circle, surrounding Yuuki, who was summoned to the room.
“Hmm? What is going on? Harrigan Nee-san and Naga are here as usual, but why are Ais and Vita clan head also here? Did I do something wrong? Or rather, are you going to do something to me?”
After entering the room, Yuuki had been stealing glances at the four of them repeatedly.
“Why am I sitting on a stool, but all of you are sitting on the ground? Are you asking me to look down on the four of you?”
Yuuki’s face was deathly pale, and sweat glistened on her forehead. Even the defiant Yuuki felt a lot of pressure when she faced these four people.
“Yuuki, we have something to tell you.” Harrigan said in a serious tone.
“I-I-I think so too. I would have run away if the four of you didn’t have any business with me.”
Yuuki broke out in cold sweat all over her body as she replied, and the four of them knelt down without any warning.
“Hyaa?” Yuuki jumped from surprise and backed away.
“W-W-What is this!? What does this mean!? Are you all joking with me!? Is this a new way of pulling a prank!?”
Harrigan lifted her head and soothed her: “Calm down, Yuuki.”
But Yuuki was still shocked and suspicious.
“Aren’t you all… angry?”
“Of course not.”
“Aren’t you going to punish me for trying to kill the prisoner?”
“We have no intention of doing that. We called for you today because we have a request for you. Please take a seat.”
Under the watchful gaze of Harrigan, Ais, and Vita, Yuuki appeared really timid as she returned to her seat, and sat down fearfully on the stool.
“We want to attack Fort Ein while avoiding damage to the fort itself and preventing casualties for both the witches and humans, so we will need your help, Yuuki. Please lend us your aid.”
After she finished, Harrigan lowered her head earnestly once more. Not just her, Naga, Ais, and even Vita, who was the head of another clan, pressed their foreheads to the floor, begging for her help.
Yuuki couldn’t say anything for a moment.
She understood that an important task would be entrusted to her, but if that was it, Harrigan could just issue a direct order. She might not be willing to follow the command, but Yuuki wouldn’t outright reject Harrigan’s orders. But Harrigan didn’t do that, and even asked Vita to beg with her. Yuuki tried to think about what this meant.
She couldn’t understand and gave up immediately, deciding to ask directly instead.
“Why didn’t you just give me the order? And what kind of mission will be given to me? Will I be in danger of losing my life?”
“No, it’s not that dangerous.” Harrigan raised her head and replied.
“I don’t understand. Since it’s not dangerous, why not just issue a command? But instead of doing that, you ask me like this. And while surrounded by the four of you, being asked is much scarier than being ordered. Also, isn’t Clan Head Vita an outsider? Why is Clan Head Vita lowering her head too?”
“Fufu”, Vita laughed cheerfully.
“I’m here to ask for your help on the Dragon King-sama’s request. He thinks you will find it harder to reject if I am present too.”
“T-That really makes it hard for me to reject, but I won’t refuse if it’s Harrigan Nee-san’s order anyway. Why go so far as to lower your head and ‘ask’ for my help?”
“Naga will explain this part. As for the mission we need you to undertake, he will explain that too. You see, Naga is the one who came up with the proposal to seize the fort.”
After hearing Harrigan say that, Yuuki scowled.
“So it’s because of you.”
“You don’t need to make such a face for me.”
“I don’t understand why we have to spare the enemies’ lives. After all, wouldn’t it be easier in the future if we kill more of them?”
Yuuki’s critique might be reasonable, but Naga just shook his head lightly when he heard that.
“Conquering Tenka is not a simple matter of how large your army is.”
Yuuki wasn’t alone, as Harrigan, Ais, and Vita also had a look of confusion. Lela’s talisman couldn’t accurately translate the term ‘Tenka’, so Naga tried to say it in a way the witches could understand.
“Hmm, eh… oh, if I use the term ‘take over the world’, will you understand?”
“Take over the world?” Yuuki still couldn’t get it, and kept blinking her eyes.
“How is that possible; is that a metaphor?”
“Just think of it as a metaphor for overturning the common sense of the world that thinks witches and humans are sworn enemies, which requires revolutionizing the entire world order. Doing that is related to seizing a new world.”
Yuuki had a look of wonder on her face.
The new world Naga envisioned and his goal for the future of the witches had not taken concrete form in her mind yet. But she understood that Naga wanted to create a new world where witches and humans live in harmony, and knew he was acting in order to build this ideal world.
(He mentioned this in the past; seems like he was serious, and he really wants to build a world like that.)
“If we can build such a world, then there wouldn’t be witches with painful memories like me?”
Yuuki muttered softly.
Naga laughed gently.
“Yuuki, so you have the same ideas as Raibach.”
“He said ‘can you really create a world where Humans and Witches can live in harmony, a place where humans and humans won’t fight with each other?’ and ‘If you can create such a world and craft such a future, there won’t be children like Elena who are killed at such a young age.’”
“W-Who is Elena?”
“That was Raibach’s child. Ten years ago, the place he lived in was invaded by barbarians; his wife and daughter were murdered.”
This seemed to have struck a chord with Yuuki, and she showed a rare face of sadness.
“…I-Is that so?”
“If Raibach’s child was still alive, she would be about your age. He said his deceased daughter looked very much like you.”
Yuuki sneered and reverted back to her usual face and attitude.
“He is just trying to get on my good side because he almost died by my hands, right?”
“He looked surprised when you appeared in the room, right? I don’t think he was faking his reaction.”
“I didn’t watch that closely.”
“Forget about Raibach for now, back to the topic. In order to build a new world, and overturn the common sense that ‘witches and humans are sworn enemies, I want to avoid killing any enemy soldiers whenever possible.”
“How is not killing the enemy soldiers related to building a new world? I can’t understand.” Yuuki puffed her cheeks unhappily and asked a sarcastic question.
“Witches are not violent and cold blooded, but are instead kind, benevolent, and merciful… I want the humans to learn these facts. It is not easy to overturn their values and perceptions, but we need to make such views waver. With time, their common sense will be proven wrong. When that time comes, humans will be willing to stand on the same side as us.”
Yuuki lowered her head and seemed to be thinking about something. Harrigan and Ais looked at Yuuki with eyes filled with kindness, while Vita observed her curiously.
Shortly thereafter, Yuuki lifted her head and mumbled:
“I still don’t understand, but I don’t mind cooperation for the sake of building a new world.”
Harrigan’s and Ais’ faces brightened, Vita laughed, and Naga was all smiles.
“That is wonderful, as there is something only you can do after all.”
“Hold it! Tell me what I need to do first, or I won’t be able to give you a definite answer.”
“Oh, this is what we want to ask of you.”
Naga explained how to use Vita’s magic to seize the fort, and how the strategy will not harm the soldiers or damage the fort.
“Oh, so that’s it… That’s why Clan Head Vita is here?” Yuuki looked towards Vita.
“That’s right.” Vita nodded in acknowledgement.
“There is no problem in using my magic to subdue the soldiers, but there isn’t any witch in either tribe who can withstand my spell and bind the soldiers. The only one who can still move would probably be Ais.”
Ais showed a proud face.
“Aside from having a huge body, Ais also has lots of fat, her breasts and butt looks really heavy. No matter how strong she is, she might not be able to overcome the increased weight.”
Ais had a smile on her face, but her veins were showing on her temple. But no matter how gutsy Ais was, she wouldn’t dare rebuke Vita, so that smile on her face just turned stiffer and stiffer.
“Which is to say, the Dragon King-sama is giving up on binding the soldiers in the fort, and will be entrusting these things to you.”
Yuuki turned her gaze to Naga.
“Your head is always full of strange ideas.”
“Isn’t my head really good?”
“To think you can devise such a plan. I don’t think your head is good, it’s just that your personality is evil.”
“That’s so mean.” Naga grumbled.
Harrigan and Vita couldn’t help their snickering, and Ais finally relaxed her stiff smile and laughed gently.
Never mind, Naga lifted his spirits.
“How about it, are you willing to cooperate?”
After hearing his question, Yuuki puffed her chest out and said arrogantly:
“Piece of cake. And the soldiers will be subdued by Clan Head Vita, so I won’t have to worry about getting hit by arrows. It won’t be a problem.”
Hearing Yuuki’s response, Naga shouted “Alright!” agitatedly.
“Since Yuuki is willing to work with us, we will begin the operation to seize Fort Ein immediately.”
And so, the Heindler and Sraymeyer Clans worked together and began preparations to take Fort Ein.
The date that they would attack was tentatively set to be ten days later.