Atelier Tanaka Chapter 29 part5
The news of the impending battle arrived at midnight.
"Everyone, wake up! The enemy is moving!"
Allen's voice echoed throughout our tent that was filled with sleeping soldiers and adventurers. The slight tremble in his voice caused all that could hear it to know that this wasn't a joke or a lie. It was actually happening. The enemy had begun to mobilize and are now advancing towards our camp.
All of the adventurers that were sleeping in the same tent as I immediately got up.
Unlike the last battle I entered with Gonzalez and Henry, this group seems to have a large percentage of women. I'd say the entire army is about twenty percent women. I can't describe the emotions I felt while lying down in the same tent as several women. Amazing.
I threw a fireball into the centre of the tent in order to provide light to everyone.
"Thank you, Tanaka-san."
"No problem. Can we get more information on what's happening?"
The main body of the army was sleeping in their tents. And each tent can fit dozens of people.
The entire army consists of thousands of people and it has been split into multiple companies for convenience sake. Even when we're crammed together side-by-side like sardines there isn't enough room in the tents for every member of the army to enter. Ten percent of the total army is out on patrol at any given time, and still, several were forced to sleep outside. The lucky ones were able to sleep in the tents. Of course, we'd rotate out on patrol on a regular basis, so everyone would receive equal time in the tents.
I had only just entered the tent to get some desperately needed rest when the scouts reported that the enemy was moving.
"The enemy army has begun a full offensive charge towards our camp. It appears they advanced stealthily through the night while using mages to conceal their movements. By the time our scouts noticed them, they were already upon us. The third battalion has already engaged them in battle."
"The exact size of their army is unknown but I've heard estimates that they hold ten times our number."
Oi, oi, aren't there too many?
"To tell you the truth, it has me worried."
If I look closer at him, I can see Allen's knees are shaking.
This wouldn't even be fair to him if he were being punished. This is only his first time being in command and his troop’s number around 4,000. That means the enemy's army is around 40,000.
The small skirmishes I took part in before can't even be compared to this. Does this mean the war is starting in full-force now?
Given that Ester-chan's territory is along the border of the country we're at war with, I'd like to avoid entering a full-scale war. But how could I even accomplish that?
"However, well…. We've been assigned to support the army from the back."
"I don't know if I can say I'm happy given the situation but we are lucky."
I'm sure we were given the support role due to Allen being a part of our company. He's a knight from the capital, he's been on the elite path for most of his life, and now he's the commander. It makes sense to leave him in the rear. If anyone were to give him orders to fight on the frontlines, they'd be disgraced if this ikemen were killed.
"Anyway, we're ready to go wherever you need us. Please, command us, Allen."
Allen motioned for us to follow him and exited the tent.
I followed the rest of the adventurers out of the tent.
We walked to the opposite end of the camp where we met up with the rest of our allies.
I could probably use my flight magic and launch fireballs down on the enemy like a bomber. However, the battle has already started and our allies are mixed up with the enemy.
My magic would obliterate an area several metres wide, regardless of who was caught in the blast. The only magic I can use is more oriented towards widespread destruction. The decision to use this magic on the battlefield is entirely mine, but I'm not sure if I can handle that responsibility.
Without me even noticing, the Dark Elf was now standing by my side.
As usual, she's looking at me like I'm an insect that's not really worth her time.
"Did you sleep well?"
"Do you think there's anyone that could sleep well in this situation?"
"Sorry. I've actually been feeling exhausted as well."
Though I'm not sure that's entirely due to my lack of sleep.
My heart. The thoughts of Allen doing all of the things I want to do to Sophia-chan. Every time I see Allen's face I'm reminded of this.
I'm even more serious about my backup plan now. Wait for me, my blonde beautiful lolita meat toilet twin sister slaves.
"Only a complete fool would allow themselves to relax in a place like this."
"That's certainly true. I'm sorry for saying anything."
She seems worse than usual.
I wonder if it's due to all the time we've spent living under poor conditions recently.
"Our luck seems to be changing. We've been tasked with providing support from the rear."
"Yeah, that's true."
We exchanged few words as I looked off into the distance to watch the sparks of magic flying into the sky.
The adventurers from other companies had put on all of their equipment and were now standing with us waiting for orders. The entire army that was still within the camp had been divided into two groups. The front line consisted of melee fighters and the back line were all archers or other ranged fighters. Behind all of them, the commander Allen, the Dark Elf, and I stood.
There were several companies that consisted of dozens of fighters. Each of these companies was lined up in there own individual units that resembled scales all lined up in a row. At the end of this row was the first company.
"Ah…just now, that surely killed a number of troops…."
A massive explosion appeared in the meadow not too far away from our camp.
That was probably a mage's attack.
In response to this explosion, dozens of our soldiers were sent flying into the air. After about ten seconds or so, their bodies, or what little was left of them, came falling back down to the earth.
Some of their blood and even some chunks of meat were sent flying all the way back to our camp. A few droplets of blood ran down my face.
Similarly, Allen's face was dyed red in the blood of our fallen allies. He was doubled over and was holding his hand to his mouth.
The damage to our army is tremendous.
It seems to me that there are two options here.
The fighters that are still in camp will follow Allen and Klein into battle and I will do my best to support them or I can ignore the friendly casualties and start launching fireballs into the heart of the battle. The latter would be most effective, but I'm sure there would be a high chance of me being charged with war crimes.
So far the only purpose of this conflict seems to be disposing of any knights that the capital has deemed unnecessary.
Right now, we're closer to the Pussy Republic than Tricklis. Therefore, the enemy will be able to receive reinforcements and any aid quicker than us. Most of our fighting force has either been killed off or demoralized to the point that they'd be hardly any use in battle. Even if we were to retreat I doubt it would end well. Their army is ten times larger than ours and the second we showed signs of retreating, they'd almost certainly charge forward at full-force. I doubt many, if any at all, would get away.
It's a difficult situation to be sure.
While I was trying to find the best course of action, a familiar voice rang out nearby.
A shrill laugh.
A laugh that I recognized.
Following her laugh, several of our allies were sent flying to the left and right. Other adventurers that saw this began to scatter and try to escape. Some even dropped their weapons and tossed aside their helmets and shields. I guess they've made their decision.
They broke right through the centre of our formation and our shape was lost almost immediately. I'm really not surprised. These are adventurers, not trained soldiers. If anything goes wrong they'll immediately forget any orders and start acting on their own.
As a result of this, a single beautiful blonde drill was standing before me.
"…no way. You survived?"
"Did you seriously think flames of that level would be able to harm me?"
The morale of our entire army has already dropped. The enemy troops that accompanied her cleared her path of any of our fighters. It was like she was a goddess descending on the battlefield and the sea of soldiers was parting before her.
It was the general of the enemy army.
However, this girl was not the same perfect girl I met before.
First off, her perfect drills that should be on either side of her head were wrong. The drill on the left was completely gone and the one on the right was burnt at the ends. I guess she came straight here after our encounter in the forest. Most of the hair on the left side of her head was gone and now exposed her burned scalp.
Per usual, the long-haired man was by her side. Except he was also different. His right arm was gone. His right sleeve hung loosely by his side. It must've been completely evaporated by the fireball. I wonder if I'd even be able to heal an injury like that with my recovery magic. I doubt it.
I wonder if they're still weak after receiving my previous attack.
"W-Who are you…?"
Drill-chan and the long-haired man were standing in front of me.
Allen was standing at my side and asked this. His knees were still visibly trembling. I could see him glancing back and forth between the big-breasted loli and the long-haired man. He's clearly worried.
However, the two of them seemed to pay little attention to Allen's question.
She disregarded his question entirely and continued talking with her normal haughty manner.
"To think we'd meet again in such a nice place! Allow me to repay you for that previous humiliation!"
Negotiating in this situation seems to be difficult.
The enemy army is larger and they've virtually won this battle already.
Due to the weight difference caused by her missing drill, her head is slightly tilted to the right.
"Aren't you getting angry at the wrong person? No one here has taken part in the battle so far."
Allen spoke without knowing about my previous battle against Drill-chan.
Drill-chan looked annoyed after hearing his words. If I let Allen take part in these negotiations, things will just become more complicated. I'll listen to his complaints later. If he persists, things will end badly for everyone here. I'll do my best to ensure the safety of the adventurers and soldiers that stayed by our side.
If things become worse it will assuredly have a negative impact on Allen's future. Even if we still lose here, as long as our army still remains intact, it won't be a complete defeat for Allen.
In the future, once Allen has reached a lofty position, I'd want him to offer me a job under him. Preferably one that pays well but requires as little work as possible.
"Even though you lost to me once, you expect to beat me here?"
"Even if you like a challenge, it's stupid of you to try to fight against me when you already know what the result will be."
I tried to bluff while keeping up my best poker face.
This seemed to unsettle her and I could see Drill-chan's face tense up. However, the big-breasted loli's massive army was still standing behind her.
"H-How long are you going to keep running that big mouth of yours!?"
"A thousand years, or even a million. I'll keep going forever!"
"Guh…. Do you not see the army standing behind me!?"
"Even with that pitiful crowd you call an army, you won't be able to get passed me."
"W-What did you say!? Why you…."
Drill-chan's reaction was cute.
Thanks to this, I felt the tension between us was relieved. The Dark Elf pointed this out before, but trying to talk with her is pointless. She may appear to be a cute girl, but she's still the general of the enemy army.
Beside Drill-chan, the long-haired man whispered something into her ear.
What is it that she knows?
I think her shrill howl is going to cause my ears to bleed.
"Shouldn't you be begging for peace right now?"
I can understand the reason Drill-chan is laughing. The Penny Empire's army has been completely devastated. With victory all but assured, it's not surprising to see the general of the army come to the front so she can gloat. However, it seems like she's hesitating on the last step. If I had to guess, the reason for this is our last encounter in the forest.
This is the only chance I see of us getting out of here alive.
"I'm sure your reason for entering the heart of our camp is so you can witness our army scattering before you. However, even if everyone else runs, I'll stay and stop you. Are you really willing to sacrifice the lives of your soldiers in order to satisfy your own ego?"
"Ooooooohohoho! Did you not see your own soldiers running away scared for their lives at my sheer presence?"
"…and yet I'm still standing here."
"You'll regret ever underestimating the power of the Pussy Republic."
Was there a double meaning to her words just now?
I shouldn't think too deeply about it. Instead, I should focus on getting out of here alive. But I really am in a disadvantageous position. I'm lacking the information a commander would have to use to negotiate.
I don't think it can be helped at this point.
I'm going to have to resort to using my fireballs.
"Well, don't expect me to go down without a fight."
— And that was supposed to be what happened.
"Sorry about this, human."
Just behind me, I could hear the Dark Elf's voice.
At the same time, I could see her raise something large above her head.
The sound of cold steel slicing through the air rang passed my ear.
My vision began spinning and my hands and feet were no longer responding to me.
In the corner of my vision, I could see the Dark Elf holding her body-length sword in front of her.
And a fresh streak of blood ran down it.
A few moments later, someone's headless body entered my vision.
As I looked closer, I could see that it was my body.
"They told me they'd free me from the bonds of slavery. There was only one choice for me."
I was finally able to understand. The Dark Elf had cut my head off.
[Sophia-chan's point of view]
It's been about half a day since we found out Tanaka-san was no longer at that camp. We've now returned to the castle in Tricklis. Just like before, after we arrived Ester-sama and Fahren-sama entered the drawing room to exchange information.
"The soldiers still at the camp said as much. Do you have any more information for us?"
"J-Just give me a moment! I'll see what I can find out!"
Because Tanaka-san is involved, Ester-sama seemed motivated. At the same time, Fahren-sama has become increasingly more impatient. These two are surprisingly compatible.
Ester-sama ran out of the room in a hurry.
The only other people besides me in the room are Fahren-sama and the Dragon. In fact, I don't remember seeing a single person on the way here. They must have been all called into an important meeting. My heart is racing.
A simple town girl like me being allowed to listen in on important discussions like this. When I return home, I can boast to Misa-chan, who works at the second-hand shop near our restaurant, about all these amazing things I've experienced. Misa-chan, what have you been doing this entire time? If possible, I'd like you to replace me for the rest of this journey.
"Do they know where he is?"
"They're trying to track his movements. I'm sure it's only a matter of time."
"I hate having to interact with this many humans."
The Dragon spoke rather bluntly.
It's something she has repeated several times now.
Due to this, Fahren-sama nervously chewed on his lip.
"I understand that dragons are exceptional beings. However, that doesn't mean that human beings are inferior to your species."
"…is that so? I’m sure this will be amusing. Please, continue."
"Before that, there's something I wish to know."
"I've heard that a Red Dragon will only give birth to one or two children in their lifetime. How many children will you have, Ancient Dragon?"
"I will have children only when I wish to. However, nowadays there are very few males that draw my interest. Our existence on this planet will be troubled if things are like this for other females."
Even in the world of dragons, the females are all looking for males that have specific characteristics that they desire. I can understand the desire to want to be with someone you love rather than whoever is available.
"I see. But do you have an idea of the general number?"
"Male Ancient Dragons have very low fertility. Even if a male were to mate with hundreds of partners, I doubt more than a few children would be born."
"As I expected."
"…what is that supposed to mean?"
The Dragon's voice caused a chill to run down my spine.
Even though she has the voice of a little girl, I couldn't stop myself from trembling.
"I've heard that a dragon that is only a few years old is wiser than any man. I'm sure you can understand my meaning without me explaining it to you."
"Just say it already."
"Humans are certainly weak as individuals. They can't even be compared to dragons. However, even though our lives are shorter, a single human could give birth to over ten children."
"No matter what their number, the children of a small fish will still be small fish."
"In addition, the average lifespan of a human is only several decades. It's incredibly rare for a human to live over one hundred years. The offspring of a dragon will live on for hundreds or even over a thousand years. While us lowly humans will only live for a few decades."
"Our shorter lives have led us to develop our civilization at a remarkable speed. The culture we've developed is far superior to that of any individual human and our civilization can be a powerful force as a whole."
Fahren-sama is getting fired up.
His blood must be boiling.
He held a clenched fist out at the Dragon.
"What's your point?"
"I'd like to know how many individual Ancient Dragons there are in this world."
"How many of you are there in this world?"
Fahren-sama's eyes were shining brightly.
I can understand it without him even saying.
Fahren-sama is trying to learn more about Ancient Dragons.
"Like I'd know. We don't fly around in giant flocks."
"No matter how many humans there are here, if I decided to attack, you'd be unable to stop me."
"Of that, I have no doubt. However, there will certainly be survivors. Like trying to hold water in your hands. A few droplets will escape and join the main body once more. And they'll continue to develop our civilization."
"And what will they live on to accomplish? Continue to live their insignificant lives?"
"And what if I were to tell you that they'd continue those insignificant lives and eventually prosper?"
Fahren-sama and the Dragon are staring intensely at each other.
"Would you like me to kill you, human?"
"If you kill me here, you'll never meet that man again. Would you be okay with that?"
The Dragon's golden eyes reflected the light and appeared to be on fire.
This combined with the black area of her eyes was incredibly scary.
Ah, I really need to run to the bathroom. Why though? It hasn't been that long since I let it leak out. Have I developed a bad habit? Ester-sama, please let me go home soon.
As if in response to my request, the door to the drawing room was slammed open.
How convenient. Ester-sama has returned.
She was carrying a bundle of paper in her hands.
I'm sure they're documents related to this conflict and the troop movements.
"What have you found, Richard's daughter?"
"I've collected all the documents I've received over the past month!"
She set the mountain of papers down on the table between us.
There's so many. Even if I compare it to the book we have at home that keeps track of our customers, it's more than we'd collect over an entire month. The lord must really have to work hard to get through all of this. And that's not even everything they have to do. Amazing. I could never do that job.
"Alright, let's see."
"Will you help me?"
"There's not much else I can do."
Fahren-sama reached out and grabbed one of the documents.
Ester-sama sat down on the sofa and did the same.
It seems like it's time to start our investigation. But I can't even do anything to help them. All I can do is sit here and watch. Tanaka-san, where did you go?