「Elliott-sama, my head hurts……」
「Well, if you drink that much, of course you’ll get a hangover……Moreover, after making that much of a clamor……」
「Ah, um, I am sorry about that……It was because boisterous merrymaking was the usual on the other side.」
Astarte was being unusually embarrassed, but since it’s been awhile since I got the upper hand so it felt a bit good. At the time we left the inn, the owner loudly raised their voice to say 「Looks like you had fun last night」 and other unneeded things while making a wry smile. Even I was embarrassed by this, but, well, since they say that you should scrape away the embarrassments of a journey, I decided to not worry about it.
Nevertheless, I wonder just what kind of lifestyle the Demon World lifestyle is. It feels like it is really decadent, but I lack the knowledge to properly judge whether that was just because of my father’s lineage, or if the entire Demon World was like that. I don’t know what kind of social position Astarte had, or what kind of person my father was……But worrying about that is just ludicrous for the time being. First off, let’s think about our course to take in the future.
「……Eliott-sama, it would seem that there is a crowd in front of us.」
Certainly, on the road that headed towards Abram’s central plaza, a great number of people was crowded together. What could also be heard was the sound of trumpets and the neighs of horses. Was there a parade or something? When we tried to get closer, we came across soldiers that were assembled in their ranks and were about to march towards the castle. Since the head of that group had just passed right in front of us, what was held up high was Count Abram’s family crest and the Church’s holy symbol. It was at this moment that I knew that this was an army formed, to be dispatched, in order to subjugate me.
I was somehow able to subdue the scream that I felt like I was going to let out. Even though I could understand with my reasoning that it would be of no use to make any needless suspicions here, my heart was pounding, and I couldn’t gather my thoughts. The difference in our numbers was overwhelming. Both the mercenaries that attacked the mining village and the Red Crows, they were groups that were on a scale of 10 people at most. However, this time was different. As a military force, they might not be on a large scale. But even so, they are at a number close to ten times bigger than what we’ve encountered until now. This wasn’t my first time experiencing everything before my eyes going dark, but it isn’t something I want to get used to. I was grateful that Astarte, who was beside me, gently supported my back.
「This is……an incredible number.」
「……I didn’t think that they would make their move this fast, but the movements of troops are actually pretty slow. If we hurry and return now, we’ll be able to gain a few days of time, you know?」
Although she was holding her head from the hangover that had yet to leave her, I was finally able to regain my composure from Astarte’s voice, who was much calmer than I currently was.
「……True, it will take some time for a large number of people just to move about, so that just might be the case.」
Think, think. If I lose my composure, it will make surviving more difficult. For me who is unable to fight by myself, thinking is the only way for me to be able to turn things around to my own profit.
「……Looking at them, I don’t believe that all of them will be going. This is surely nothing more than an event to make an appeal for a departure to the frontlines to people of the town.」
Astarte saw that I was brooding over things, and added on information that I probably didn’t know. I was thankful for that. Thinking while talking about things made it easier for my thoughts to gather. Since the surroundings were noisy, there was probably no problem with being heard by someone if we’re just having a conversation in the middle of the crowd.
「What is your reason for thinking that?」
「First, I cannot see the figures of a unit that would perform the transportation of goods among them. Unlike mercenaries and Adventurers that walk while carrying several days’ worth of provisions individually, armies are generally accompanied by units that specialize in supplies.」
True… I only have a smattering degree of knowledge on strategy and tactics, since I am a person of business, I was able to understand the things pertaining to logistics.
「I see. Certainly, that is probably the reason why they are headed to the plaza in front of the castle. Going by this trend, the destination of this parade is the audience plaza at this city’s center. I suppose it is something like a ceremony to receive the command once again from Margrave Abram.」
「That is most likely the case. It’s just past noon right now, so the army’s marching speed isn’t that fast. To begin with, since the main fighting power is the infantrymen, you should anticipate they will be moving on foot.」
「So the cavalrymen……there are around ten of them. Do they serve as messengers?」
「They are probably the commanding officer’s guard. The person wearing the feathered helmet at the center is probably the commanding officer.」
「That is probably Count Abram’s niece that we heard about yesterday. She has a holy symbol hanging on her, and she matches the Temple Knight description.」
The commanding officer had a petite and armored personage. I couldn’t confirm her face and figure with the helmet, but I would certainly be able to agree if I were told that she was a woman. She dons practical chainmail and a metal chest plate that had little decorations. On the flashy deep crimson surcoat that she wore on top of all that, the Church’s holy symbol was embroidered with golden thread. I do not know what kind of person she is, but reactions of the people of Abram was by no means bad. It would seem that it was true that she was popular with the common people. At the commanding officer’s side, there was a female officer of arms that was probably following as the adjutant. On the other side, there was a middle aged man that looked like a Cleric. There were four suit mail-armored cavalrymen that seemed to be Abram knights and looked like they were more experienced with fighting than the commanding officer. The remaining cavalrymen wore lightweight leather armor and possessed small-sized horseback bows and trumpets. It seemed that these were the messenger soldiers.
I desperately tried to remember from the smattering knowledge that I got from Gustave and the mercenaries in the past and from second-hand knowledge on anything related to the army. There was a little more than ten cavalrymen, with only a portion wearing metal armor, and there were about twenty regular infantrymen equipped with ceremonial swords and shields. There were twenty soldiers who, although their outfits were sporadic, had fairly substantial equipment……these were probably a group of mercenaries that were hired as one. The rest was made up of infantrymen that wore supplied uniform leather armor that clearly didn’t match their bodies and carried spears.
An army close to 100 strong would perform a one way, one-week march. In other words, at the very least, there was a need to transport fourteen days’ worth of food for 100 people for a round trip as well as camping tools and bedding. Most likely, around ten wagons would be prepared. In that case, at least ten pack horses would be needed, and fodder and water for those horses would need to be transported as well. Both maintaining and making use of an army have enormous costs. The knights and mercenaries would probably be the ones to take care of their own horses and equipment out of their own expenses, but the regular infantrymen are either ones that the knights hired to be their subordinates or Count Abram’s subordinates. Most likely, the equipment of the infantrymen that were probably recruited from the neighboring villages were provided by Count Abram, and a considerable amount of money must have disappeared from just their food expenses and such. Even the mercenaries’ hiring expense was considerably high.
「Could it be that they are making the numbers balance by making the mercenaries and regular infantrymen the main battle force while making the other infantrymen be the guards for the pack horses and do things that aren’t all that difficult?」
「Just from looking at their current equipment, that’s what it looks like. Since it looks like there are few longbow soldiers, things will be relatively better.」
I had no objections with Astarte’s comment, projectile weapons are bad news in general.
「They do say that considerable strength is needed to use a longbow, so aren’t they just finding it difficult to gather enough of them……After all, from what I’ve heard from Gustave, it’s said that research is being conducted on a weapon that will pull a bow’s string with a mechanism that uses springs and pulleys. It looks like it’s already completed on the technical level, though it’s now a question of whether it can be mass produced or not……In all likelihood, wouldn’t it work just like a poison needle trap?」
「……That must be a disgrace for the knights.」
While we were talking about such things, my shaken up spirit calmed down by a certain extent, and although the militiamen were the greater part of the army, there was close to forty regular soldiers and mercenaries. Since the knights will most likely be the commanding officer’s guard, even if I were to leave them aside, it’s at the very least a fighting force that is four times bigger compared to the Red Crows that came half a year earlier. Moreover, maybe because of the commanding officer’s popularity, the support of the people of the town is also cheerful, and from what I could see, the army’s morale was high.
In any case, the one thing I understood is that there is no hope of winning against them by clashing with them head on.