The witches fell asleep as a result of them getting drunk and being exhausted from making an uproar. Following that, Naga, Harrigan, and Vita moved to a separate room.
Facing each other, the three of them were sitting in a circle in front of appetizers and wine brought from the banquet.
“Your tactic was, once again, splendid this time, Naga. I didn’t expect us to be able to capture the fort that easily.”
As Harrigan said so, Vita nodded in agreement.
“Umu, it was indeed a brilliant trick. The first time I heard about it, I wasn’t sure what you were talking about, and thought you were just blowing your own horn. Nevertheless, we were able to take over the fort without producing any sacrifices on either side, which was surprising. You’re a big deal. Perhaps, your name, which stands for the Dragon King, isn’t just for show.”
Not even Harrigan was fully confident about Naga’s words, regarding not making any casualties. Nevertheless, with Vita and the rest of her family also doubting the success of his plan, it was certain, their anxiety was nothing more than just mere criticism.
However, just as Naga had told them, they managed to capture the fort without losing anyone on either side.
Being much pleased at that great battle result, Harrigan and Vita praised his strategy. Still, Naga himself didn’t appear to be quite in high spirits.
“This time’s strategy wasn’t that much of a big deal, you know?”
“Is that… so?”
“Yes. This is just a reasonable outcome, considering the fact I was able to grasp and put together your abilities. You could even say it was bound to happen.”
“Are you being humble, or perhaps, boasting of yourself? Your manner of speaking is difficult to understand.”
Vita spoke while laughing, but, Naga wouldn’t smile.
“What’s more, it was thanks to the wind blowing in our direction, you see. Be it war or gambling, the ability to predict the course of action is what’s essential.”
(Still, even that is a difficult thing to do, and most likely, impossible for a common soldier to carry out. Be that as it may about his abilities, but there’s no doubt that this man, who goes by the name Dragon King, holds the power to command people and see through any event.)
Vita, who ceased to smile, looked at Naga while picturing those things.
“The problem lies in what’s next. We still don’t know what course of action will the future take.”
At his words, Harrigan and Vita tightened their expressions.
“In other words, are you talking about whether or not the human army will try to retrieve this fort?”
Naga nodded gravely.
“Back then, I told the other witches it was unlike to happen so as to calm them down, but, with the Kasandora Kingdom suffering one more defeat this time, there’s probably no way for those guys to leave things as they are.”
“Well then, Dragon King. Are you telling us they might consider taking immediate measures in order to retrieve this place? Even though they’ve already suffered 2 major loses?”
“That’s hard to tell. Certainly, Kasandora Kingdom’s mobilization power was around 2000 soldiers…. wasn’t it? Harrigan?”
“Umu, that’s right. Despite saying so, their numbers may slightly increase if they decide to go at full force without thinking of the consequences.”
“They have already lost 500 people from the previous battle at Schweiz River. This time, there were no casualties among their soldiers, still, I’d doubt if those who escaped will dare to face us again. Speaking of which, I want to confirm something before that, but…”
Naga looked in turns at Vita and Harrigan.
“It’s just my intuition, but I thought before that there would be lots of instances where ordinary soldiers and commanding officers wouldn’t belong to a king and feudal lords as a result of the previous ones retiring. How does it work in practice?
“I too am not knowledgeable about the military structure of humans, but, if we make the Kasandora Kingdom an example and assume the soldiers don’t belong to them, then there are 2 possible options.”
As Harrigan said it, Vita took control of their conversation.
“The first is that they are mercenaries. In this world, people who are broke will be the easiest to conscript as they need a way to maintain their regular stipend. These sorts of people will fight regardless of who commands them. And then, another one is soldiers dispatched by nobles and small feudal lords from domestic lands, who are from the so-called groups of families and adherents.”
“I see. Indeed, that concept doesn’t vary much from what I felt back in my world.”
“As long as the Kasandora Kingdom has enough funds, they can replenish the lack in their army. I wouldn’t be surprised if their main force was to consist of mostly mercenaries, you see. There might be a chance that the Kasandora Kingdom is, right now, desperately trying to recruit new soldiers.”
“With that, does it mean there will be no significant drop in their mobilization power?”
Naga asked while making various calculations in his mind. As he did so, Harrigan, who had a difficult expression, nodded in agreement.
“It may be that those guards who were stationed here have lost their interest in fighting us, however, there will be plenty of others to replace them with. To begin with, we don’t even know how much funds the Kasandora Kingdom has stored within their vault, so…”
“Once the rumor about them suffering another defeat to the witches spreads, is there a chance that……. soldiers will hesitate to join them despite the Kasandora Kingdom trying to recruit them?”
“Yes, but, the war between fellow humans has recently decreased. Since there are now less opportunities for those confident in their skills to flourish, they may be attracted by the war against us and gather in this area.”
“I see. We are indeed placed in a difficult situation.”
Folding his hands while groaning, Naga suddenly lifted up his face.
“Is it possible for the Kasandora Kingdom to request aid from other countries?”
“I wonder about that.”
Harrigan and Vita exchanged looks with each other.
“I guess it’s unlikely to happen.”
“That’s right. It’s hard to imagine them requesting cooperation from someone who’s just recently changed their status from being that of a mutual enemy. On top of that, they have incurred another defeat against the witches.”
“Is that so? Then, is it okay for us not to worry about that matter?”
Naga, who slightly tilted his head, released his troubled face and spoke in a distinct tone.
“Speaking of which, if they to decide to retrieve this fort, it would be nice if they could throw in the same number of soldiers as they did during the previous battle at the Schweiz River.”
“That’s probably the most they can dispatch. I wonder myself if that number won’t reduce a bit, still….”
“True. I also estimate there will be roughly around 1000-1500 of them, but, even that number is large for us. As you know, we only have as many as 40 people to defend this place.”
“As expected, is it reckless to fight back….. using everyone?”
“I think I’ve told you before, Naga, but there’s no way we can leave the black forest vacant.”
“Yes. Even among the witches, there are those who are sly and cunning, you see. Were we to leave our domain empty, they would probably try to snatch it away from us.”
“Can’t the witches make a truce and band together?”
“Unfortunately, it’s just as I have said.”
(I have the feeling that my clan also wouldn’t share one…. no, far from that, doesn’t it feel more like they would fight among each other?)
“Well, isn’t it fine?”
Naga, who muttered, shifted back his focus on the actual problem.
“By the time the next battle occurs, we will be protecting this fort. However, our previous trick won’t work a second time.”
“Then, what shall we do? As usual, when it comes to tactics, the discrepancy in our reasoning is so large it makes me feel unpleasant.”
As soon as Harrigan urged, Naga replied quickly.
“Well, when it’s necessary, we can just abandon this fort.”
“What?! Won’t it make all our effort of capturing it meaningless?!”
“That’s not what I mean, Harrigan. In the end, our objective is to create a world where everyone can live peacefully, and not maintaining this fort.”
“N, No…. that may be true, but…”
“But, Dragon King, provided we throw away this place, won’t our plan of achieving that be delayed? Won’t it become more difficult for us to do it?”
“It won’t affect our plan that much. I would understand were we to try a bit harder in protecting a castle or a country from being snatched away, but being persistent about this small fort won’t do us any favors.”
Harrigan and Vita looked at each other’s face as if being unable to comprehend his words, and then, turned their eyes toward Naga once more.
“In that case, what exactly are we supposed to do?”
“To be more accurate…. It doesn’t seem I’ll be able to knead a counterplan as long there’s not enough information regarding the scope and equipment of the unit in charge of the attack. Don’t you have a witch who specializes in disguise or can shapeshift in your family?”
Harrigan shifted her sight to Vita.
“Fumu, there’s one person like that at my place, still…”
“Can I have that person sneak into the Kasandora Kingdom?”
“It’s not like she can’t, but, in the end you just want to acquire information about the enemy’s mobilization power, equipment, and morale, right?”
“Yes. That’s because this time’s tactic will greatly depend on that information.”
“I wonder if that man, Raibach, happens to know about it.”
“Ah, no, I’m not sure if he would have any information about a newly formed unit designated for recapturing this fort…. Wait wait, that’s right!”
Naga suddenly hit his laps.
“Have you come up with some idea?”
“I think not just an idea but a solution for everything. How about I sneak inside the Kingdom and check the information by myself?”
“W…What on earth?!”
Both Harrigan and Vita opened their eyes wide.
“You shouldn’t do such a reckless thing.”
“Why? Do I look any different from an ordinary man? If I don’t, shouldn’t it be fine for me to walk around cities without being suspected?”
“No, that’s not my point. You, probably know nothing about the topography of that place nor about this world’s languages and customs. You may be able to understand their words, somehow, thanks to Lela’s charms, but if you do anything clumsily, your identity might be exposed. Is gathering the information by yourself something worthy of such risk?”
“I’ll have Raibach with me?”
“….Eh? You don’t mean to say you’re going to have him guide you, right?”
“Of course I do. Isn’t that place his home turf? What’s more, he’s familiar with its local customs, so I should be able to walk freely, no?”
“No no, he has acquaintances there, right? Aren’t you bound to be questioned because of that?”
“Raibach can walk with his face hidden, you see. And if you, Vita, can lend me that previously mentioned witch, I see no problem for the three of us to go there.”
“Saying that you see no problem, it feels as though you’re casually going to a town market to buy goods……”
Harrigan, who said so, had a dumbfounded expression. Not just her, Vita also felt the same way.
“Don’t they say that even audacity is no different from a ‘common thoughtlessness’ when taken to the extreme?”
“Aren’t you saying some wise words there, Vita?”
“Are you in the position of praising others?!”
“Honestly, you don’t have to be that angry. Does that witch of yours have any objections?”
“Furthermore, a group consisting of 2 men and a woman should probably grab no attention from the soldiers and local people there, right? If it’s something related to customs or land features, leaving it to Raibach will do. Assuming that my communication with other people turns bad, I can have Raibach and your witch to talk in my stead.”
“Surely, it’s not like there are no foreigners with black hair like you, but….”
“Then, it’s all right.”
“You’re, indeed, quite optimistic.”
“That’s wrong, that’s wrong. Rather than being optimistic, I just want to gather some proper information regarding the enemy before a battle, you know?”
“You mean it?”
“That’s what I mean.”
Vita switched her gaze from Naga to Harrigan.
“Harrigan, what’s your opinion?”
“That’s right. Shouldn’t it be okay to entrust Naga with that task?”
“Still, is it safe to let just Raibach and Dragon King go?”
“No, I’m going to assign one more person from this side as their guard.”
“However, there’s no telling whether or not that guy will turn Naga in due to him getting homesick, right?”
*Chuckle* – Naga chuckled under his nose at Vita’s statement.
“You girls think that Raibach will rat me out? You’re making light of him way too much.”
“……Is that so?”
“After all, he’s become an ally of the witches, of the heinous witches, who are seen as the enemy of humankind. An ally of those who should be exterminated.”
Harrigan and Vita warped their faces in displeasure.
“There’s no way for him to make such a decision with a half-baked preparedness.”
“…….That may be true, but, whether or not he can protect you during a crucial time is yet another issue.”
“Then, Harrigan, do I understand that one of your witch, together with the one from Vita’s place, will tag along with me?”
Naga looked quite indifferent, nevertheless, Vita and Harrigan had sour expressions.
“It would be troublesome, were I to overestimate you, so how about working together with Elysione? Perhaps, she will help you…… one way or another?”
“Her skill will come in handy when you decide to escape.”
“I see, is that so? Still, that girl might stand out because of her height.”
“Fret not. It should be fine as long we dress her as a man.”
“Ah, so there was that method as well?”
“I wouldn’t say that her height is a dime a dozen among men….. but, with just her walking, she shouldn’t attract that much attention.”
“Excellent. Well then, let’s quickly proceed with the preparations for the infiltration.”
“You’re pretty short-tempered.”
“You shouldn’t consider there to be that much of time til the enemy strikes.”
Saying that, he looked in turns at Vita and Harrigan.
“Got it, got it. Then, I shall progress with the preparations starting tomorrow.”
“That’s right. However, I’m worried that Elysione might not be able to meet up to your expectations when it comes to deep thinking or playing by ear, as she’s basically a simpleton. Wouldn’t it be better to forward someone who’s smart from Harrigan’s side?”
“You mean itso? Got it. I’ll designate 2 people here.”
“I too will appoint one more person besides Elysione.”
Naga made a deep nod.
“I’ll leave the selection of people in your care. I’m counting on you.”