|Author: Kobayashi Homare||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3579 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1545 words|
The battle was starting to heat up. Lapis’ power had completely stopped their first advance. The enemy’s morale was sinking, but not enough to make them retreat. We still had to make sure to do everything we could to achieve victory.
There was a high likelihood that the enemy’s boss, Stied, had come with them to the battlefield. Our spies told us they had seen Stied preparing for battle too, and would not shut up about taking Lapis’ head himself. There was still a possibility that he had sent a body double though. If that was the case, our plan to take out the enemy’s leader would not work, and we would have to escape while relying on Lapis to cover for us.
We could not afford to retreat until we made sure whether Stied was there or not. We had to continue holding off as much as we could, creating an opening for Lapis to go through and find him.
“Alright, cavalry go out as a distraction! Mages and archers aim at their frontline! Infantry, follow me!”
The cavalry continued forward after collapsing the enemy’s first wave, rushing into the enemy lines and dodging hits to confuse them. The enemy did not know how to react, since they expected the cavalry to attack in a different way, and then magic and arrows rained on them.
The enemy soldiers let out agonizing screams as they fell on the ground. Those who died instantly had the best luck. The rest were left severely injured, writhing in pain on the ground. The spearmen that ran after the cavalry finished them off. I felt bad doing that to my fellow countrymen, but we would be the ones dying otherwise. There was no room for mercy here.
It felt like our army was successfully holding the enemy back, but the difference in numbers was still staggering. I could already tell we would be too exhausted before we got rid of them. Not to mention that our soldiers were slowly getting injured as well, weakening our defenses as they pulled back to be treated. Just when the enemy was about to break through, the aerial fight finished and they came to our aid. They threw javelins, pebbles, and stones at the enemy, but they were not entirely safe in the air either. The enemy started flinging magic and arrows at them.
“We’re faring better than I expected, but I don’t know for how long we can hold this position…”
I wonder if Lapis managed to find Stied? I did not doubt her skills to pull out her mission, but I still felt a bit nervous.
After clearing out the skies, I went straight into the enemy lines, swinging my sword wildly amongst them. Though I did not kill them, I would simply injure them to render them immobile, and then let the other soldiers drag the wounded away. Having less enemy soldiers on the frontlines would help my allies, but I was thinking a bit more. Carrying the wounded would keep even more soldiers busy. Leaving one on the verge of death meant two or three other soldiers would come to their aid. They would obviously return to the frontlines once the wounded were safe, but that carried another issue.
The enemy’s priests were in charge of healing the wounded, and they had limited mana pools. Constantly using healing magic would wear down their mental as well, and once they ran out of mana, they would faint. In other words, increasing the workload of the enemy healers was a way of decreasing their morale as well. The ones most affected would be those who had gotten wounded once already. Would they be able to put up as much of a fight after being left half dead once? The answer was no, even if they were fully recovered. Except maybe for those with an extremely resilient mind. Magic could heal their physical wounds, but not their mental ones. Most people were afraid of standing in battle, not to mention being heavily wounded.
I aimed to enhance that fear, leaving them too afraid of attempting to fight. Once they looked less confident, Stied would definitely make a move.
The soldiers that had been so focused on killing me, started to pull back like waves at the beach. In their place, a unit of knights in black armor stepped out. The black knights, Stied’s strongest weapon. They were all so powerful that regular soldiers could not fight back against them.
“Don’t go getting any ideas just cuz you got here, girl-”
The black knight leading the pack tried to say something, but I sliced his body in two vertically before he could finish. The other black knights barely had any time to stare in horror before I sliced their necks and torsos as well. I had no need to hold back against them.
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“Now you’ve done it!”
The surviving black knights were enraged, instantly using their strengthening spell to raise their abilities. Their visual appearance did not seem to change much, but the aura surrounding them was completely different. It was almost like their souls had been turned inside out.
“So that’s the strengthening I heard so much about. It sounds like an annoying spell.”
Then again, I heard all those stories from common soldiers. Compared to me, they were weaklings that had gotten marginally better, they would pose no danger.
“Wha- How?! Even though we’re stronger..!”
After a deep breath, I attacked again just like earlier…or maybe even more furiously. I would not give them time to react, counterattack, or defend. I planned on taking down every single black knight in sight.
“Hey! What’s wrong with you! You’re fighting a single girl!”
Stied bellowed angrily from atop his horse, annoyed at the worsening state of the battle. He had pushed everyone to come here against their will from the start, but seeing his plans crumble made the spoiled prince get even more angry.
But regardless of that, just how powerful could Lapis be? She started flying at a speed I could have never imagined, launching multiple powerful spells continuously, and defeating our aerial units in the most embarrassing way. I thought she had gotten exhausted after doing that, but then she appeared on the surface and fought without rest, taking out even the black knights. She was strong, maybe even more powerful than Luvias the hero. If we did not stop her soon, it was hard to say just how much our army would suffer. I did not mind seeing the black knights die, but I wanted to keep the sacrifices of knights and soldiers to a minimum. At this point, retreating was the best option. But that would require… I glanced at Prince Stied who moved next to me.
I really wanted to sigh my woes away, seeing him take such a leading role but then continuously lose his mind in the most shameful ways. And convincing him to retreat would be even harder…
“You useless bunch! …I have no option then, it’s your turn, Barbaros!”
Hearing that name, the leader of the black knights, Barbaros, finally moved forward after remaining still all this time. His face was completely covered by a helmet and his movements felt inorganic, making it impossible to tell what he was thinking or feeling. His mere presence was overwhelming and I had to take a few steps back.
“Bring me the head of that little girl! You should be able to do it!”
“That Lapis or whatever her name is! Can’t you see her over there?!”
The moment he heard her name, I felt a strong murderous desire emanating from him. What did all this mean?! Did he have some past with Lapis?
His words were filled with anger, like they emanated from the bowels of hell, and he rode forward. His horse was completely black, just like the rider. The harnesses on the horse had an ominous appearance as well, and it seemed to share the rider’s emotions as it neighed loudly while galloping to the frontlines.
I was still trying to comprehend what had happened when I realized I was alone with the prince again.
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“Your Highness…who was that man?”
“Hmph, I borrowed him from a powerful ally. His head was never in a good place, so they made sure he could be useful somehow. Now he can barely talk, but at least his skills are top-notch. Just think of him as a golem made of flesh.”
I could not believe he would speak that way of a human fighting for him. For a moment I was filled with hatred and anger against him, but the strangeness of it all managed to keep me calm. Who was that ally he mentioned? Just who had helped the prince with that mysterious man and all the black knights?
That name felt familiar as well, Barbaros. But where had I heard it? I knew this was not the first time I heard it. I had a really uncomfortable feeling about it all, but I could only watch Barbaros heading out to challenge Lapis.