“Stop! Calm down! The witches still haven’t made their appearance! Maintain your formation!”
Ligaya tried to hold back the staff officers together with their soldiers and advance forward with the 2nd wave. Nonetheless, the situation only worsened.
“Our bodies turn heavy and we can’t move!”
“There are cobbles flying at us!”
“Not to mention, even human-sized rocks!”
“There’s that witch in the sky who sends lightning bolts at us!”
“A crowd of dolls is coming this way!”
“A witch in front of that crowd is made from metal!”
“Rather than a witch, isn’t it a magic-created doll too?
“A big herd of man-eating wolves has attacked us. Our comrades are being eaten alive!”
Such words were shouted from mouths of the soldiers who tried to escape. However, alongside the fragmentary information, there were groundless rumors mixed in as well, making the whole situation hard to grasp.
At this rate, it would mean those running away crossing swords with the side that tried to hold them back. Ligaya, who feared that, could only continue with their tactic. He had to avoid increasing the casualty count any more, at all costs, otherwise, the Kasandora Kingdom would become unable to keep their military structure. And once their army ceased to function, the kingdom’s very existence would be in danger.
“For now, we will retreat to General Guiscard, who is waiting on standby at the main camp. Rearrange the formation and bring back the defectors by grabbing their attention!”
The staff officers, who stood near Ligaya, conveyed his order to other troops with a loud voice.
(We are saved!)
Both the soldiers who were trying to flee and those trying to stay felt relief upon hearing the order. They ran towards the main camp while striving to be first.
Once Ligaya had dispatched a messenger to Guiscard, he and his confidants remained at their spots and continued to scream out the order while watching their troops running toward the main camp.
Guiscard became shocked upon hearing the content of Ligaya’s report, which he had received from his messenger.
The general immediately recalled Kasandora Kingdom’s major loss, the one it had suffered from the previous battle at the Schweiz River, and shuddered.
“What’s the number of casualties? Is Ligaya safe?!”
“The extent of the damage isn’t thought to be that serious. Ligaya-sama decided to stay on the battlefield and lead the retreat of the troops.”
“Is that so?”
Guiscard sighed with relief, however, he remembered it wasn’t the right time to rest assured.
“Gather back all the soldiers who have withdrawn!”
Guiscard passed such an order to the other staff officers.
Watching how the staff officers came alive in a hurry, the general smacked his lips and grinded his teeth while cursing inwardly.
(Still, I didn’t know the witches would be this strong! Just what the heck is going on?! Haven’t they been doing nothing but protecting the black forest till now?)
‘That’s not what was promised!’ – Guiscard wanted to complain, but because he didn’t know to whom he should direct his words, he gave up on that idea.
If someone like Ligaya, with his firm tactics, was unable to win, then one could only think the witches had won. [TN: you don’t say…]
(Will the witches who are on a roll charge at us? Should we also withdraw from the main camp while it’s not too late? No, that won’t do. At least, we’ll have to wait til all the defectors are gathered back. There’s a fear the defectors will scatter somewhere and never return if they don’t find our main camp.)
The general had some sense left telling him not to retreat his troops from the main camp.
Guiscard’s senior aide returned back to the main camp.
“General, it’s been confirmed that there was no major loss to our troops. What should we do?”
In other words, the aide asked Guiscard whether or not they should fight again once they had managed to gather all their troops.
“Gather the soldiers and check them for any wounds. Once you finish, wait here on a standby til Ligaya comes back.
“Yes. We will confirm the soldiers’ condition and await Ligaya-sama’s return.”
“When Ligaya comes back,”
Guiscard took a glimpse in front of him. What he saw there were his soldiers still running back in succession.
The senior aide waited for Guiscard’s next words.
“We shall retreat back to the royal capital.”
(I think this is the most reasonable choice.)
The aide stroked his chest in relief after hearing they wouldn’t have to advance on the witches once more.
(It’s good to have a sensible General, like Guiscard-sama.)
The reason why Guiscard wasn’t stubborn and haughty about forcing his troops was perhaps due to him previously walking the path of a career accountant, which made his decisions rational. The senior aide was thankful to Guiscard for not launching a suicidal attack. Most likely, the general himself thought that way.
(Still, by just making this reasonable decision, we won’t be able to overcome our crisis, probably.)
The aide had also made such a prediction.
Despite that, there was little he could do.
He, who was Ligaya’s subordinate, would occasionally, like this time, serve as Guiscard’s aide, but not as someone who would be able to come up with a plan to break the deadlock. Even if the aide was able to carry out his orders devotedly and effectively, he couldn’t afford to pull his superior’s leg with his ideas. That’s why, it was fine for him to just fulfil his duty as a soldier.
And then, looking at the general, Guiscard had his weak points too. While he most likely had the ability to manage a country during peace, it was quite uncertain whether or not he could get through hectic times.
(I wonder what’s going to happen next. Well, I guess only time will tell, but…)
Suppressing the feeling of hopelessness that gushed inside of him, the aide paid his respect to Guiscard.)
“Yes. We shall await Ligaya-sama’s return, and then, head back toward the royal capital.”
“Anyways, bring the soldiers back together. If any of them tries to desert, you may even slice them up.”
“Yes. We will hold back the soldiers even if it means for us to slice them up!”
“Excellent, now go!”
Turning around and moving his sight away from the aide, Guiscard looked again towards the southern direction.
Guiscard was a bit surprised at himself for being able to calmly watch how the soldiers continued to disperse.
(So the real problem is we don’t know what the witches are going to do…. next?)
The messenger sent by Ligaya claimed that 1 or 2 of the witches had shown themselves. Despite there being just 1 or 2 of them, as many as 600 units were quickly repelled and made to flee.
(I see. So it wasn’t impossible for General Geobalk, who had served long in military service, to be defeated as well.)
Guiscard also shared a similar feeling with Ligaya, but, it was only til they faced the witches for the first time that they understood the rumor about Geobalk was true.
(Despite that, why did the witches suddenly become this strong? I don’t understand it at all. Could it be, that someone powerful enough to govern the witches has made their appearance? Like the rumored King of the Witches? If that’s true….)
It’s useless to fight the witches any further. – Is what Guiscard thought about absentmindedly.
“They’re running away!”
Kay, who stood in front of the dolls, jumped up and down.
“Yahooo, we did it! We forced back the enemy! We were able to ward them off even without letting them approach the fort!”
As she was doing so, Ais ran down a hill from the right side.
Behind Ais, there were Ixine riding on her horse and Nonoel clinging to her following after.
If the enemy soldiers had responded back with their bows, Nonoel would have had to protect Ais using her water-made shields. In the end, not receiving any attack from the enemy, Ais didn’t even have the chance to flourish.
“Oh, Ais, thank you for your hard work!”
“Kay-chan, you did a great job too!”
“Ah no, I was just standing all the time, you see.”
Kay put a wry smile on her face and looked down at her body.
“The enemy thought it was creepy, since they couldn’t pierce through Kay with their arrows. That’s why, I would wonder if the creepy Kay-chan didn’t play a big part in our plan.”
“Ehh? Ais, it doesn’t feel like you’re praising me.”
Kay puffed her cheeks out in unhappiness. Just then, Yuuki descended on her hoverboard.
The petite Lily jumped off the board upon its landing.
“Lily! You did well too!”
As soon as Kay waved with her hand, Lily responded back by waving.
“Ah… I’m honestly beaten. I’ve never casted my magic from a hoverboard, so it was very difficult for me to concentrate.”
“The same goes for me. I rarely give a ride to anyone for this long, so it’s not just you who’s tired, you know?”
“Ah, that’s right. Well, aren’t you fine anyway, Yuuki?”
“Why am I the one to be fine?! I had to pay twice as much attention so as not to get hit by arrows. Seriously, don’t consider me as an exception!”
“Ah… I got it, I got it. Thanks for your hard work!”
Kay bowed down in an apologetic way, but, Yuuki wouldn’t stop getting cocky.
“It’s okay, as long as you can understand.”
Lily chuckled back. At that time, Elysione and Vita joined up with their group, and then finally, Harrigan, Naga, Raibach, and the rest arrived together.
“Is it fine for us….. to consider this repulsion successful?
At Harrigan’s question, Naga folded his arms and looked in front of him.
“I guess that’s okay. We managed to win against Kasandora Kingdom’s army three times.”
The witches raised voices of joy, pressed their hands together and sprung up.
“Still, I was surprised to learn it went better than what we had anticipated.”
Once Vita said so with an admiring face, Ais agreed with her and carried on.
“I thought we would have to hole up inside the fort at the very least, but, we were able to ward the enemy off far away from the fort.”
“Good grief. Naga, just how skillful are you in battles?”
No no – Naga shook his hand in front of everyone.
“Honestly, it’s not like I’m particularly good in battles. The reason why we won was because the flow of the battle had already been decided, and it was fine for us to simply follow it.”
“You mean it?”
Vita was still unconvinced, but, Naga continued speaking in a casual manner.
“For example, if among Kasandora’s troops there were those who had gone through a painful experience during the last 2 battles, just a single attack from you would be enough to scare them off. These people would be ready to run away immediately. Any troop that consist of many of them would become fragile. That’s why, if we carried out an attack similar to before, no, or rather, it’s because our attack was exactly the same as the ones before, that we yielded a great result. Even though the extent of the damage suffered by the enemy wasn’t big, it was enough to make them lose their composure. As long we continue to press them, their troops will crumble and fall into chaos. ”
“I think I can see your point in that explanation of yours, but, the whole plan wasn’t something you could easily pull off. To begin with, it’s impossible for us to see through that flow of the battle that you had mentioned. It may be natural for you who excels in battles, but, not for us who are still inexperienced, you know?”
Bending her neck, Vita looked at Raibach.
“What’s your opinion on that, Raibach?”
“Ah, no. I also think that Naga-sama’s highly experienced. The fact he can see the previously mentioned ‘flow of battle’ would also prove that, or perhaps, you should call it the ability to grasp a chance? Being able to exact such precise instructions, not even generals from Kasandora Kingdom would be a match for Naga-sama, even if they were to form a group.”
“Vita, Raibach, even if you praise me, there will be no gains. We should be focusing on the present, you see.”
“‘On the present’? What do you mean?”
Harrigan threw a question from aside.
“Sooner or later, we ought to reward everyone properly, is what I mean. Obviously, if the number of our members will increase from now on, I’ll have to add conditions, but….”
“Oh, is that so?”
“Well, let’s leave that aside. What we should do now is—-”
“We already know that, Naga-san!”
Kay suddenly put up her thumb at Naga and replied.
“Of course, you mean holding a banquet, right?!”
“Eh? That’s not it? So we aren’t going to hold another, banquet this time?
“No, we will, but you see, it’s still too early for that. Did the enemy really withdraw? Can we already cease thinking they might attack us again? First we need to confirm that, and then, we hold a banquet.”
“Ah…. you mean it? I guess you’re right.”
Kay scratched her head shyly. Once she did so, Ais interjected.
“It can’t be helped, since Kay-chan thinks about nothing but banquets all year round.”
“Ais, that’s mean!”
Laughter burst out among other witches. Filled with optimism and relief about the fact they had managed to protect Ein Fort, everyone’s faces were radiating.
“Well then, Yuuki, you’ve done a great job, but I’d like for you to scout once again. I believe the enemy has already fallen into too much disorder to attack us again, but still, please continue to keep an eye on them.”
“You don’t have to tell me that. Then, I shall be going now.”
As soon as Yuuki finished chanting and jumped on her hoverboard, the board gently lifted up in the air together with a wind vortex surrounding it.
The hoverboard soared quickly into the sky and stopped momentarily there; however, it then immediately started to glide through the air.
Within a blink of an eye, Yuuki’s appearance vanished from everyone’s sight.
A single young witch stepped forward from the rest.
“Can you walk around and check the current situation using your Heaven’s Eyes?”
“Kay, Nonoel, and Cu will assist Selena as her bodyguards.”
“Excellent. The rest of you will go and check on the soldiers who fell behind. If any of them got injured, provide them with first aid. In case there are those with bone fractures, it should be fine if you use a wooden support to attach to their limbs. That’s because their troops will come to retrieve them later.”
Naga called out to the witches who were about to get going.
“Ah, by the way, if there are people who had lost their consciousness, apply treatment to them after waking them up. We need to let them know that the witches are the ones who helped them. This is an important thing.”
The witches responded back affirmatively, divided into groups and scattered to check for any casualties.
“Thank you very much, Naga-sama.”
Raibach, who stood next to him, expressed his gratitude with a small voice.
“Don’t fret. I did so in order to change the bad image of the witches and increase their reputation. It’s not like I would care about your former allies.
Despite Naga saying so, Raibach still bowed down lightly toward him.
“It may be true, but still, allow me to express my gratitude.”
“I won’t stop you in doing so, but well….”
Naga laughed and shifted his sight toward Harrigan and Vita, who remained there.
“The problem is, we still don’t what Kasandora Kingdom plans to do next.”
“Will they attempt to capture this fort once more?”
“I don’t think they have any spare power left, but, they might go through the trouble of borrowing men from other countries. What’s your opinion on that?”
Naga looked in turn at Raibach, Harrigan, and Vita’s faces.
“I wonder. I think it’s unlikely for that to happen.”
Harrigan, who replied that way, directed her sight toward Raibach.
“Indeed. Thinking back, Kasandora Kingdom had rarely asked for any reinforcements from other countries, so it’s hard to imagine.”
Saying so, Vita and Naga moved their eyes towards Raibach.
Feeling a pressure coming from their gazes, Raibach drew back unintentionally.
(That’s some incredible pressure coming from those three when being stared at by them)
“What do you mean, Raibach?”
“T, That’s right. I…..I believe Kasandora Kingdom would like to avoid borrowing any power from other countries.”
“Is that so? If that’s true, then, that will buy us some time. Shall we move forward with the preparations for establishing the new country at once and check Kasandora Kingdom’s internal condition?”
“Are you talking about the infiltration and surveillance of Kasandora Kingdom you had mentioned before?”
Once Harrigan questioned on that, Naga nodded down and said ‘That’s right.’
“As one would expect, it’s necessary for us to grasp the current state of the kingdom. If we can manage to do so, it will be easier for us to read their movements by the next time. Nonetheless, true, perhaps it’s better for us to increase the size of the group designated for that surveillance a little.”
“What are you thinking about?”
“This is just in case, you see. Well, we have yet to talk about that, so for now, there’s something else we ought to do.”
“Hm? What could it be?”
“Oi oi, didn’t Kay just mention it? We went through the trouble of pushing back the army of Kasandora. You don’t mean to say we aren’t going to hold a victory banquet, do you?
“Is that so? I guess, you’re right. Still, I’ve got the feeling we’ve been doing nothing but victory banquets recently.”
“Don’t be like that, Harrigan. The banquets are the proof of our consecutive victories, so shouldn’t you be glad?”
“It’s…. just as you have said Vita, but, should you say I’m perplexed, since I’m not used to winning, or so.”
“You’re pathetic, Harrigan. You should follow Kay’s example.”
“No, if I were to do so, our clan wouldn’t last that long.”
“I think you’ve just said something rude there.”
“Then, shouldn’t you listen to what Elysione has to offer?”
“I shall decline that idea without even considering it first.”
Harrigan became dumbfounded.
“I wonder which of us is being more cruel.”
“Well, isn’t it okay? Today, let’s celebrate the victory to our heart’s content.”
At Naga, who was laughing while saying so, both heads of their clans nodded deeply.
“I’ve no objections.”
Finally, the witches who were in charge of treating the wounded soldiers finished their work and gathered back at where Naga and the rest had been waiting for Yuuki and Selena to return. According to Ais, there were several men who were heavily wounded. Were they to be left like that, they would probably die before their allies could even arrive.
“It can’t be helped. Should we put them on the cart and treat them when we return back to Fort Ein? After that, we shall release those people, I guess.”
“Understood. I’ll arrange for that to be carried out immediately.”
Just then, Selena, Kay, Nonoel, and Cu returned back as if changing their place with Ais.
“There was no sign of the enemy to be found in the surroundings.”
“Selena, you did quite a work there, didn’t you?”
At Naga’s praise, Selena shook her head from side to side intensely and answered:
“Ah, no, I haven’t done anything in particular. It’s okay.”
Praise me too, praise me too! – Kay pointed at herself as if asking for that.
“That’s right. Kay and Nonoel worked hard too.”
“For some reason, it sounded half-hearted.”
“I think it was half-hearted.”
“Naga-san’s words were quite shallow.”
Being criticized by those 3 girls, Naga made a wry smile.
“That’s not true. I’m thankful for what you did from the bottom of my heart.”
“I wonder about that.”
Kay looked at Naga with her scornful eyes, and then pulled her head back.
“More importantly, now that the enemy has retreated, it’ll soon be time for what you’ve been waiting for, the victory banquet.”
“Umm, no? Everyone’s been waiting and not just me?”
“Well then, shall go with that?”
“Naga-san, you’re mean!”
Kay bent backward, whereas, Nonoel and Selena chuckled.
In the end, Yuuki returned. Based on her information, the enemy retreated back to the royal capital, leaving only a few scouts behind for surveillance. Upon learning that, voices of joy rose up among the witches.
“Excellent! With this, Kay’s long awaited banquet can begin. Everyone, let’s head back to the fort!”
All the witches made an ardent shout of victory, except for Kay.
“That~is~why don’t say it like I’m the only one who’s waiting…….”
Kay didn’t try to hide her discontented expression.