WAR! Go Liz! Get them XD!
Chapter 2, Episode 13: Struggle
The Fourth Imperial Army had set up a camp about a three day’s distance away from the village in which Hiro was staying.
The tents were set up in various geometric formations and there were three layers of fences around their perimeter. Many campfires were burning throughout the site.
In the center of the camp site was headquarters, and the commander and his staff officers were right in the middle of a war council.
General Kielo sat at the head of the table and Liz could be seen slightly to his right.
One of the staff officers raises his hand amidst the tense air.
「May we move on to the next agenda?」
「Hmm. That’s fine. Begin.」
After receiving General Kielo’s confirmation to go ahead, he stood up with a scout’s report in hand.
「A rebel army has appeared in the southern part of the Lichtein Dukedom. They are currently moving north and it seems they are heading towards our direction.」
The aide turned his head and looked at General Kielo.
「What would you have us do? We can not avoid a clash at this rate.」
General Kielo snorted uninterested.
There is a map spread across the table. He glances at a piece placed atop it.
「How big is the rebel army?」
「Approximately 4,000 men. They routed the Lichtein Dukedom’s defense forces. It seems they’ve employed mercenaries and are continuously taking in slaves from surrounding areas. They may have over 6,000 men by the time they encounter us.」
「Hmm. What is the Lichtein Dukedom doing?」
「According to an informant, it seems they’ve gathered soldiers and are holed up in the capital. We’ve received the same report from a spy, so the information is likely accurate. We believe they are preparing to hold their castle.」
「Have they lost their nerves? But it’s decided then.」
General Kielo calmly held his hand over the map.
「First, we destroy the bothersome rebel army. Let us add them to our own army. But all the slaves will be executed. After that, let us assault the capital, then have a grand and triumphant return to our country.」
There is no objection to be heard from the staff officers. General Kielo nodded satisfied.
But Liz was not satisfied as she glared at the map.
Noticing this, General Kielo decided to call out to her, maybe because he was being considerate of the fact that she was an Imperial princess.
「Was there perhaps something not to your liking?」
「The soldiers and horses are exhausted after all these blitzes.」
They fell a number of forts. You could even say they were easily brought down.
Thus far, it’s been victory after victory. It’s almost scary how smoothly things are going. And thanks to that, the morale of the soldiers is high.
However, even if the forts were brought down easily, they did in fact put up a resistance, even if slight.
Riding their momentum, they advanced thus far at a startling speed.
The battles will still continue. Even if they do defeat the rebel army, if they are to take down the enemy nation’s capital, they need rest.
It’s fearsome just thinking about what could result from the accumulated fatigue.
「If we can’t rest, we should capture the oasis city of Bruno in the north and negotiate, as initially planned.」
General Kielo shrugged his shoulders and spoke.
「You don’t understand, do you, Princess?」
There was a hint of contempt in the tone of his voice. Although Liz noticed this, she kept quiet and continued to listen.
「You can not treat the Fourth Imperial Army as the soldiers of another country. It is for times like this, that they train all day, every day, and build their endurance. They will not tire from any lukewarm campaigns.」
「But they’re still human. It’s impossible to continue fighting to no end.」
「According to our plans, we will only fight two more times. After that, we won’t just have the northern region, but half of the Lichtein Dukedom’s territory.」
「His Majesty the emperor does not wish to destroy the Lichtein Dukedom.」
「The downfall of a capital does not necessarily mean the downfall of the country. Do not worry. We will leave the south for them.」
With hatred in her voice, Liz voiced her rebuttal to General Kielo who was acting victorious.
「If we do that, the Fourth Imperial Army will be forced to stay here. If the defense in the south thins out, who knows what the Schteizen Republic will do? Also, the Lichtein Dukedom will become desperate to reclaim their capital. If stability crumbles in the south, things will turn disastrous.」
「If that time comes, we can destroy the Lichtein Dukedom. Am I wrong?」
Then, as if he remembered something, the corners of the mouth rose up and he shot his gaze at Liz.
「It seems you’re tired, Princess. That must be why you keep making such timid statements. The war council will be over soon, so go rest. We will be departing early in the morning.」
Liz wanted to tell him off, but she clenched her fists and restrained herself.
But anger does not subside so quickly. The aide saw it on her face and chastised her.
「You are currently a staff officer. Here, your position as the Imperial princess is irrelevant. I do not approve of you showing your emotions. You should be careful with your words so as not to cause his Excellency any concern. Tread carefully.」
「Enough. Her Highness is still young and she hasn’t been a soldier for long. It would be cruel of us to tell her to know the ways of a war council. It’s fine if she learns slowly from here on out.」
The staff officers nodded in agreement to General Kielo’s words.
「Rest at ease, your Highness. I will be sure to give you a place to play a role.」
General Kielo smiled slightly and turned his gaze to the map.
It was probably his way of showing that he was done talking to her.
「I see… Then I’ll take you up on your offer and get some rest.」
If she lost her patience here, it would only put her in a worse position.
She has no allies here. There are only staff officers aiming to please their commander.
After looking around at each of the staff officers, Liz stood from her chair and left the tent in long strides.
A cold wind hits her cheeks and quickly drops her body temperature.
After blowing into her hands, she starts towards her own tent.
As she does, a large man— Tris came over with an escort in tow.
「Princess. Is the war council over?」
He’s smiling like a good-natured old man. He thinks of Liz as his granddaughter.
Liz voiced her complaints in a way so as not to seem like she was venting her anger on him.
「General Kielo isn’t thinking ahead at all. It’s like his head’s full of nothing but gaining merits.」
「Hmm… As I thought, he won’t change his mind, will he?」
「Yeah, he said he’s going to move forward and destroy the rebel army then attack Azbakal.」
Tris furrowed his brows and began to walk beside Liz.
「He’s just brimming with ambition, isn’t he? And I thought he was a cautious man.」
Liz laughed sarcastically at Tris’s words and let out a sigh.
「More importantly, how are the preparations going?」
「I’d say about 60% complete.」
「I see. I’ll write more letters, so hand them to each unit’s leader.」
Liz parted ways with Tris in front of her tent. She goes inside, looks at the open space, and sighs.
She did not bring Cerberus along for this battle because he’s unable to handle the heat.
And of course, Hiro isn’t here either. She doesn’t even know where he is right now.
She hopes he completed the 「contract」 without incident and was acknowledged as a descendant.
「I wonder where he is right now…」
Her body shivers in the cold so she covers herself with a blanket. Liz closed her eyes while seated.
She has 「Laevateinn」 by her hand so she can fight at a moment’s notice.
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A two days distance from the Lichtein Dukedom’s capital of Azbakal is a fort called Azba.
There are currently 2,000 camel cavalrymen and 3,000 infantrymen here.
There’s a possibility the Fourth Imperial Army has taken notice of the soldiers assembling in the capital.
Having come to this conclusion, Marquis Ranquil decided to gather soldiers from various areas and summoned them to Fort Azba.
Marquis Ranquil watched the final unit walk through the gate from atop a tower.
From behind him appeared Count Karl with his teeth chattering.
He had his guards stand down, then stood next to Marquis Ranquil.
「Marquis Ranquil, what are we going to do now?」
「They are both moving as planned.」
Marquis Ranquil smiles.
His eyes were burning so hot with passion that it made you forget about the cold.
He spread his arms out towards the empty night sky. Below him, the soldiers were keeping themselves warm.
「First, we lead the rebel army and have them clash with the Fourth Imperial Army— Do you remember me explaining this part?」
「Yes. I received word as well. I was relieved that it went well. But even if we were able to lead the rebel army, do you think it will be so simple to do so with the Fourth Imperial Army?」
「That is why we are making a path for them. If we show them that it’s safe to advance this way by thinning out the defenses of our forts, I’m sure the merit hungry shadow general will bite. Then, we just have to lead them deep into our territory.」
Even with those confident words, Count Karl’s face still looks worried.
Count Karl voiced his concern as he rubbed his arms.
「Will it work out like that? Even if only in name, he’s a general of the great empire. Won’t he see through a plan like this?」
「People are like lumps of avarice. If you dangle bait in front of them, they will bite. We just need to make him think he’s steadily advancing. An enemy who creates their own momentum is fearsome, but an enemy army which you provide momentum for can be dealt with in any number of ways.」
「Is that so…?」
「Because the avarice of man has no bounds.」
Marquis Ranquil sneered and let out a white puff of air.
「After we watch the outcome of the battle, we will attack the exhausted victor.」
「I’m sure we will succeed in getting this far. After that, it will depend on the soldiers whether or not we can win, but… there is one thing that bothers me more than that.」
「What is it?」
「It seems the Schteizen Republic and the Grand Duchy of Doral have called for a truce. Part of it may be due to the fall of Ferzen, but the passing of the grand duke is likely a cause as well.」
「… That too is problematic.」
「The fight for the heir has already begun in Schteizen. I can’t say that there is zero possibility of them coming to attack us in order to gain merits.」
They lost many soldiers with their last two losses.
Even now, they forcibly gathered soldiers from various areas, and their defense is thinned out in nonessential places.
「The rebel army, the Grantz Grand Empire, the Schteizen Republic… Despite the fact that they normally despise us as a slave nation and keep their distance, only at times like this do they swarm and try to use us. Our country really is so popular.」
After hearing Count Karl’s self deprecating remark, Marquis Ranquil laughed in return saying, 「you’re absolutely right」.
Then, he looked earnestly at Count Karl.
「This battle will be settled quickly.」
Bandits and monsters are attacking villages.
If the building resentment of the people bursts, there will be a second and third rebel army.
It would be hard to maintain their statehood if it came to that.
Whether it’s an invasion from the outside, or a collapse from within, if either happens, the Lichtein Dukedom will likely be erased from the maps.
In order to avoid that, they must have a short decisive battle and avoid dragging it out.
「Can we do it?」
「It’s possible, so I’d like you to leave everything to me.」
「… All right.」
「Now, it’s cold out here. Please head back inside.」
He pats Count Karl’s shoulders and urges him to return.
It seems his anxiety is still there, but Count Karl nods and turns around.
After watching him disappear into the darkness, Marquis Ranquil hangs his head low.
There were two reasons why he did this.
One was that he did not mention the zorosta.
The other was that he did not mention 「Valdite」.
(This is an extremely difficult situation for battle.)
He looked down below at the assembled soldiers.
There are 5,000 of them. Half the number of the Fourth Imperial Army. It’s even less than that of the marching rebel army which is increasing its numbers as it passes through different areas.
「I’ll draw in a victory no matter what.」
Though it is a barren land, it is the country in which he was born and raised, and so owes a great debt to.
He wants to do whatever it takes for it’s survival. Marquis Ranquil looked up at the night sky and muttered.
「The stars seem close today… This is the one thing that hasn’t changed.」
Even if the country falls to ruin, the stars will likely shine on for all eternity.
Even if all of mankind on the surface die out, they will continue to look down undisturbed.
「I’ve taken every measure I can. Only the gods know if we will succeed or not.」
With those as his final words, Marquis Ranquil goes back inside the tower.
All that was left were the strong, freezing winds grating the air.
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Imperial year 1023, August 3.
Twelve sels (36 km) away from the Lichtein Dukedom’s capital of Azbakal.
The winds are strong today. Clouds of dust impair the vision and it is impossible to see far into the distance.
Within such conditions, the Fourth Imperial Army of 10,000 encountered the rebel army’s advance unit of 1,000.
The Fourth Imperial Army had sent out patrols numerous times and were aware of the advance unit.
It seemed that was not the case for the opposing advance unit. Unrest could be felt from the enemy soldiers.
Seeing this, General Kielo sneered at them saying, 「I suppose they’re just a rebel army after all」.
「We have no obligation to let them go.」
「You are correct.」
「Are the preparations in order?」
「There is no need to worry about the supply unit. It has been entrusted to someone who is reliable, and the members of the escort are all elites.」
After finishing his statement, the aide turned his gaze. He was looking towards the right flank where a flag with a crest of red soil and a lily was fluttering. It was a unit of slightly disarrayed ranks of soldiers entrusted to Liz.
They were in disarray because she had the riders marching on foot to allow the horses to rest.
「It looks like the right flank will reach them soon.」
As General Kielo turns his gaze in the same direction, a staff officer shouts.
「The rebel army is charging!」
General Kielo turned back to look at the rebel army and there was a large cloud of dust rising up.
The advance unit— 1,000 camel cavalrymen are heading towards the right flank where the Sixth Imperial Princess is attached.
The aide spoke in a shaky voice.
「Absurd. Without waiting for their main unit, the advance unit alone is…」
「Compose yourself. We far outnumber them. Don’t neglect the security on our perimeters.」
Said General Kielo, but it wasn’t that he didn’t have his own misgivings in his mind.
If they lose 「Laevateinn」 here, his head would go flying for sure.
He doesn’t think the Sixth Imperial Princess, a possessor of a spirit sword, would be defeated by the likes of a rebel army, but he needed insurance just in case.
General Kielo turns to the flag bearer and raises his hand.
「Have the reserve cavalry head to the right flank and the archers provide cover fire.」
The flag was waved from side to side and the drums were beat.
The thousand reserve cavalrymen standing behind the right flank sortied.
「Let’s have a look at her Highness’s skills.」
General Kielo’s nasty gaze was directed towards the right flank where the soldiers were getting into formation.
Spreading before Liz, who stood in the middle of those soldiers, was an army of camel cavalrymen.
Seeing the charging camel cavalry, Liz removes 「Laevateinn」 from her sheath and shouted.
「Here comes the enemy! Tris!」
「Can we move out right away?」
「The 2nd cavalry battalion can move out at any time. The 1st cavalry battalion may take a while longer.」
「Alright! Send out the 2nd cavalry battalion!」
Liz kicks her horse’s sides and moves to the front.
Tris said outloud in a surprised voice…
「Princess! Where do you think you’re going?!」
「I have to make sure we have at least a little more of an advantage before we fight!」
She weaves through the cavalry and stops her horse after gaining a bit of distance.
A large cloud of dust is rising up. It approached Liz like a wave.
It’s about 90 rus (270 m) away.
Liz keeps a strong grip on 「Laevateinn’s」 handle while focusing on the camel cavalry.
As they come 37 rus (111 m) away from her…
「No need to hold back. Set everything ablaze!」
In an instant— flames came spewing out from 「Laevateinn’s」 blade.
The flames scorch the air, and the dry heat spreads out around the area.
The flames, which were spreading to the sides, became a large wall and completely separated the two armies.
The cavalry in the rear burst out into cheers at the magical scene.
Liz turns her horse’s head around and rides to the front row of the 2nd battalion, who had switched places with the 1st battalion.
「The enemy will avoid the flames as they approach us! We’ll strike where the enemy’s ranks are in disorder! Second battalion, follow me!」
Tris comes rushing over on his horse.
「The 1st battalion is ready to move out!」
「Then attack the enemy’s flank! Send word to the reserve cavalry to move around to the back! We’ll surround the enemy and annihilate them!」
「Understood! May the Twelve Great Gods of Grantz be with you!」
「You too, Tris! Second battalion, we’re moving—?!」
When Liz turned forward, she saw the wall of flames being attacked by a wave of sand.
「No way… How?!」
While she stood surprised, the wall of flames was swallowed by the sand.
Flying out from the cloud of sand soaring high into the sky, were a large number of camel cavalrymen.
After regaining her composure, Liz swung down 「Laevateinn」 in front of her and yelled…
「We’ll crush the enemy’s spirit! Second battalion, follow me!」
She pulled on the horse’s reins and kicked its sides.
Liz rushed out past the vanguard. A thousand cavalrymen behind roar out 「follow her Highness!」 as they chase after her.
The enemy’s lead group comes in contact with Liz. As Liz flattened her body, a spear passed over her head.
Without delay, she swings 「Laevateinn」 and severs the enemy’s body.
After glancing for a moment at the enemy who raised a spray of blood and fell from his camel, Liz created a mass of flames from 「Laevateinn’s」 blade and shot it out in front of her.
「This isn’t the time to be surprised! Dodge it!」
Many of the camel cavalrymen are unable to evade it, and dozens of them have their flesh burned off.
The hideously burned enemy soldiers gave off an awful stench as they fell onto the desert floor. Hooves stomp over the corpses as the battlefield is covered in sprays of blood.
Having lost their riders, the camels started to get scared from the heat wave, and the ranks of soldiers began to break.
Then, with great force, the Fourth Imperial Army’s cavalry attacked, the tips of their spears sparkling in the sun and piercing through the enemy soldiers.
Nearby, Liz is hacking away at enemy soldiers whose faces are tense with fear.
At times, she was as beautiful as 「Palladiana*」, and at others, fiercely gallant.
T/N: The Kaniji reads valkyrie.
The smell of death encroaches the air and coils around the nose. The number of corpses kept growing and made the offensive smell even thicker.
「We’ll keep this momentum and crush the enemy!」
As Liz swung 「Laevateinn」 up, someone came charging past the corpses.
He effortlessly carried a greatsword almost as tall as him in one hand as he was cutting any cavalrymen who stood in his path in two.
Liz could feel her nerves building up in her face when she saw the large man with slightly purple skin.
「… What’s a zorosta doing here?!」
The large man jumped off from atop his camel.
the dust of battle mixed with blood rises up before Liz.
The greatsword picks up wind and howls.
Liz immediately drew out 「Laevateinn」 and got into a defensive position.
In an instant, a flashy show of fireworks go off as the greatsword hits her.
Liz floats in mid air along with her horse.
Although the man had unbelievable strength from an average person’s perspective, Liz, who undauntedly pushes him back is not normal either.
There’s the fact that she stopped his greatsword, but something else made the large man’s express change after he was pushed back.
Once he created some distance between them, he turned his gaze to 「Laevateinn」 and opened his mouth to speak.
「… A spirit sword, is it?」
「Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.」
Liz hides the fact that her hand is numb, and smiles so as not to let on.
「It’s impossible for the dainty body of a little girl like yours to have such power.」
「Isn’t it too soon to come to a conclusion just based on that?」
「There’s no use in hiding it.」
The large man thrust his greatsword into the ground.
「This is one of the Five Deadly Swords of the Demon Emperor, 「Beben Slave」. There are only so many swords in Aletia which can stop a Demon Emperor Sword.」
The Five Deadly Swords of the Demon Emperor.
They are five treasured swords which the zorostas refined a 1,000 years ago in order to stand up against the Five Imperial Spirit Swords.
The Demon Emperor Swords have the soul of a zorosta residing in them and they have a will of their own.
They each have a different method of selecting their owners, and if one is chosen, they are granted an enormous amount of magical powers.
There are times non-zorostas are chosen as well, but it’s said that in those cases, some form of a curse befalls them.
「And you feel it too, right? How they’re resonating after meeting their longstanding foe of so many long years.」
Liz looked down at 「Laevateinn」.
There is heat emanating from the crimson blade. It was hot enough to distort space.
It’s urging her— to hurry and fight.
As Liz calms 「Laevateinn」, she glared at the zorosta before her.
「… As you said, this is one of the Five Imperial Spirit Swords, 「Laevateinn」.」
「Ohh, the First Emperor’s beloved 「Laevateinn」, is it? It’s even written about in many legends. It is an honor. Its krall* was 「superhuman strength」 if I’m not mistaken.」
*TL note: Kanji is heaven’s blessing.
The large man swings his greatsword around, causing strong winds to sweep around him.
「「Beben Slave’s」 krall is 「impact」. Since we’re both being urged on, let us cross blades!」
The man’s lips twisted in joy.
「My name is Gahda Obunano. I serve as aide in the slave liberation army.」
「I’m Celia Estreya Elizabeth von Grantz.」
Liz jumped off from her horse and readied 「Laevateinn」.
During this time, the rebel army was being annihilated.
There’s the fact that they were outnumbered, but in addition to that, the First battalion was digging into their flank and the reserve cavalry was moving around to their rear.
Gahda should have noticed this. After looking about, he turned to look at Liz.
「It looks like we don’t have much time. Let us settle this quickly.」
「There’s no need to be in such a rush. I have plenty of time!」
「Laevateinn’s」 blade comes down on Gahda but is easily stopped.
However, there was no hint of surprise in Liz’s face. He’s a Demon Emperor Sword user, so she knows she won’t land the first hit that easily.
「I know, that’s why I’m bringing out the flames, too.」
A red wave rose up, and a snake of flames attacked Gahda.
Gahda repels the crimson blade, turns his body around, and places his hands on the ground.
Under the control of magic, sand piled up to become a wall and defended against the flame snake.
Liz strikes the wall of sand with her fist.
It’s a fearsome, superhuman strength. Liz’s arm pierced through the wall.
Caught off guard, the fist makes contact with Gahda’s face, and the immense force blew him away.
Gahda rolled once, twice, before coming to a stop. Liz steps into the spot where the wall crumbled.
「Oh, did you forget 「Laevateinn’s」 krall?」
Gahda stood up calmly.
「An average man would have probably lost consciousness.」
He wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth as his smile broadened.
「Now, it’s my turn!」
「Beben Slave」, standing almost as tall as his body, effortlessly swings down from above Liz’s head.
Liz raises 「Laevateinn」 and stops it. The overwhelming force digs her ankle deep into the sand.
Liz immediately kicked her right leg out. However, Gahda easily stops it with one hand.
While still in that position, Liz lifted her body and using her left leg for a front kick, the sole of her foot drives into the pit of Gahda’s stomach.
Gahda holds his stomach as he steps back and tosses Liz with the hand gripping her right leg.
Liz beautifully repositioned her body while in midair and landed with her left hand on the ground.
However, she ended up dropping 「Laevateinn」. With a grimace, Liz looked down at her shaking right hand.
It’s numb from 「Beben Slave’s」 「impact」.
「… That ridiculous power of yours is troublesome.」
「It’s rude to say a weak little girl has ridiculous power.」
「That is true. I was a bit forgetful in my manners towards one who has received the favor of a spirit sword.」
「How about you apologize with your loss?」
「Hmph, how valiant of you. Do you think you can win?」
They both glare at each other for a short while.
Suddenly, Gahda turns away to look around at the surrounding area.
There are gloomy voices echoing out amidst screams and roars.
Many of his comrades had become corpses, mere objects painting the desert.
Gahda furrows his brows displeased. He placed his greatsword on his shoulder, turned to Liz, then opened his mouth to speak.
「Let us continue… is what I’d like to say, but let’s settle this another time.」
「You think I’ll let you get away?」
「Don’t push yourself. Do you plan to fight with your hand like that?」
As Gahda said, the numbness from Liz’s hand was still there.
After jumping onto his camel, Gahda looked down at her.
「You have talent. If you keep training for another five years, you’ll likely surpass me.」
One camel cavalryman from the rebel army comes rushing over.
「Boss! We’re going to be surrounded at this rate!」
「I know. We’ve accomplished our objective. We’re pulling out.」
Behind Gahda was Liz, pointing 「Laevateinn」 at him.
After just a glance, Gahda rode off on his camel without a word.
Tris came up beside her as Liz was glaring at his back in frustration.
「Princess! Are you all right?!」
「Yes, I’m not hurt. More importantly, how are the casualties?」
「I can’t say without hearing the report, but I don’t believe there were too many casualties. It’s thanks to you drawing the attention of the zorosta, Princess. Should we pursue them?」
「No. No need for a pursuit. Let’s leave the rest to General Kielo. The horses and soldiers are tired from the blitzes so let them rest.」
Liz lets out a deep sigh and the strength drains from her body.
「Guess I still have a long way to go…」
She thinks how she still falls behind Hiro as she smiles weakly.