「First unit, three wounded, and among them, one severely wounded.」
「Switch all of them out! The wounded are to be brought outside and return to the medical group. Mercenary unit, please hold down the left passage!」
Even if it was called a tunnel, it was too narrow for armed Humans to invade all at once. In addition to that, there were also differences in height. Naturally, the ones that were able to put up the battle front was limited to two people at a time. It would be different if they came out to a spacious room, but advancing inside a slender tunnel, there wasn’t much difference between using a large number of people or a small number of people.
Temple Knight Olivia was a commanding officer that particularly excelled in her ability to grasp the surrounding situation. The tactics that she took were simple and clear. While switching out the few members essential for the capturing of the dungeon before they accumulated fatigue, she steadily increased their area of control. Splitting the regular infantrymen and the mercenaries into four groups, two of the groups were put at the frontline, and the other groups were resting at the back and flanks while keeping watch on the surroundings. The militiamen acted as the defense for the areas that they had finished gaining control of, and focused on aiding the wounded. The Officer of Arms quickly summarized the information, and performed things like making the arrangements to bring the wounded back. Because this was not a war against a foreign country, there were not knights or any opponents that carried family crests of some house that came out. For that reason, the existence of an Officer of Arms in a conquest such as this was nothing more than a formality, and would generally be treated as a secretary to save a battle record. ……Despite being an imposter, her performance wasn’t bad.
If a large opponent were to appear, the frontline would be made to slowly retreat and bring the opponent into a wide area where archers lied in wait. After bringing it in, damage would be given with arrows, and after that, they would encircle and annihilate it. The textbook tactics were steadily performed without being mislead by the changes in the progress of the battle. Her hearing was probably good and could catch the various shouts. She was quick to grasp the situation, and quick to make decisions. She most likely placed priority on preventing the loss of soldier, but there was no hesitation in her decisions. ……Was this really commanding ability of a Human going out to battlefield for the first time?
「Inside the right tunnel, there is a trap!」
One of the mercenaries fell into a small sized pit that was set in the floor right behind a door. Working together with the trap, a small group of skeletons attacked him, but a shieldbearer immediately followed up, and while he bought some time, the mercenary’s rescue was performed. The expeditionary force’s dungeon capturing speed was slow but their loss of soldiers was considerably small. It seemed that wounded people were appearing due to the traps and surprise attacks, but most likely, immediate casualties weren’t appearing in battle.
It wasn’t as if the traps and the designs of the monster positioning were seen through. In addition to that, by choosing methods that wouldn’t decrease the soldier, they were slowly closing in. By some chance, this might be due to Olivia’s cowardly nature. ……That girl, when we were small, she was more of a tomboy than a coward though.
However, my current self didn’t have the time to confirm that trait, nor the time to create a situation that could make use of that trait as a fact. Lookout soldiers were deployed in areas that they finished capturing, traps were filled and marked with chalk or cloth, and the areas they controlled slowly increased. As an opponent in a home base capturing game, Temple Knight Olivia was unpleasantly straightforward and efficient. By some chance, could it be that she doesn’t intend to capture the dungeon in one day, but plans to slowly control the mine entirely over several days……?
「She got me. Olivia is much more difficult than I expected.」
In a room deep in the dungeon, I muttered that while confirming the progress of battle using the water basin and voice pipe. The only thing that fell below our expectations was their capturing speed after entering the mine. And even that wasn’t all that slow.
「Ah, I recognize that mercenary group’s crest. If I remember correctly, they are a group of hoplites that the mercenaries that drifted in from the north had created, and they take high payments but never run away……That’s type those guys are. Moreover, there are several Rangers mixed in. The lightweight equipment wearing guys that occasionally go up front in order to check for traps whenever they go into a new room are the Rangers.」
「Hey, Elio……I mean, Goshujin-sama. That Temple Knight girl, is she really a novice to battle?」
Shiro and Sara, who had gone out to set up other mechanisms inside of the dungeon, finally came back and were confirming the progress of the battle together with me. Both the swarm of Imps and the Stone Golem didn’t become anything but a way to buy some time. I thought that I would only use them when we eventually had to run away, but after thinking about the amount of damages, I ended up wanting to hold my head.
Behind us, there was the figures of a completely exhausted Diana, and Astarte who was playing around with Diana. Since I still couldn’t fully trust Diana, I had her played around with by Astarte so that she wouldn’t become calm and so that she would be preserved in a state of halfway sexual excitement. Well, since it would probably cause her to consume an extraordinary amount of stamina, it also had the significance of eliminating her means to escape. As far as Diana knew, this was how the Assassin’s Guild strategy would play out. The jewels that Diana planted inside of the dungeon……in actual fact, there were two varieties that would either explosive or gave a poisonous vapor……were there. Similar to the collar that I had attached to Diana, those jewels probably had a function that would allow the Officer of Arms to know their general location. Those would act as a map, as well as traps. By making it explode in a convenient location after advancing further in, the expeditionary force would be split up. It was fine if Olivia died from the poisonous vapor, and if she didn’t, the Officer of Arms would do the deed directly……It seemed to be that sort of plan. If gunpowder were to be used inside of a mine like this, the danger of a cave-in or a dust explosion was high. The Officer of Arms actually doing the deed, probably wouldn’t happen…… But, from what I heard Diana say. And from what I remember from the few conversations I experienced with that Officer of Arms. I had a premonition that that Officer of Arms most likely wanted to kill Olivie with her own hands.
「Goshujin-samaaa, just now, the Officer of Arms dropped something on the ground at the back.」
When I peered into the water basin due to Shiro’s words, the place that the 「eye」 could see could no longer be seen. As expected, I wasn’t able to install several eyes in a single spot. If it weren’t for the small gadget that was carried by Olivie, I probably wouldn’t have been able to follow the expeditionary force’s present location this smoothly.
With a rough sketch of the tunnels, I reconfirmed the layout of the Officer of Arm’s rearranged jewels. Further down ahead, it turned into a three-forked road, and the narrow passages continued on for a while. The width of the tunnels changed to the point of where only two armed soldiers could line up side-by-side, and where only one soldier could wield their weapon. Olivie put a shieldbearer and a regular infantryman together into a two-man cell and had them slowly advance. The suppression of almost everything other than the frontline was finished, and she was even managing the soldiers that were drinking water from their canteens. Unlike a battle that would be finished in an hour even at most, this method of capturing had the state of tension continue throughout the long period of time. Their fatigue wouldn’t become ridiculously high from that but…… Since it was a dungeon where it would be hard for interference from the outside, as long as the area that they suppressed kept a lookout on the unknown area, they were able to rest like this. To be honest, I didn’t notice that they could handle the situation like this.
If the Assassin’s Guild weren’t here, we probably wouldn’t have any other choice but to scramble and run away from the dungeon. A weak point really is a weak point. They were coming from the front, and I understood the fact that we couldn’t win against them in terms of fighting power and against their overwhelming legitimate method of fighting. ……However, the world won’t end with just that. Perhaps, I might have to be grateful to the Assassin’s Guild.
「Considering the location, it’s probably around the time for the Officer of Arms to play her hand. With this location……Carry the water basin to the third secret room. Shiro and Dahlia, make it so that the soldiers don’t die pointlessly. And depending on what is needed, I don’t mind if you open the hidden passage. Either way, in this situation, even if they have a place to escape to, it won’t turn into anything but a prison with no exit after all.」
「Astarte, Sara. Follow me. Since we’ll probably be joining the battle against the Arachne, bring the Orc Leader that is on standby along as well. ……If they’re unwilling, I’ll probably be killed after all.」
「……Grouping together with the demon that was once Legda, I have some mixed feelings about it.」
「Eliott-sama, are you fine about leaving that girl?」
Astarte asked me that question. She was probably talking about Diana.
「For now, put her in hand restraints only once more, and then set her free after that. If she’s able to escape with this, that in itself displays her talent.」
I said it so that Diana could hear me. Whether she takes it as me having that sort of leeway, or as me having that little resources depends on Diana. However, it’s hard to believe that she’ll change to the Assassin’s Guild side as she is now. ……Though, the possibility that she’ll be turned into a demon by the Arachne and dominated isn’t zero.
「……Astarte. The Arachnes, are they able to turn others into demons just like me?」
I secretly asked her that.
「……It would have been better if you asked about that earlier. They probably can’t. Arachne are Mazoku that possess the form and abilities of a spider, and they are said to originally be children born from a high-ranking Mazoku called the spider archduke. As for their position as a Mazoku……or rather, as demons, they are designated as a middle level Mazoku. To begin with, high-rank Mazoku are the ones that possess exceptional abilities from among the upper and middle level Mazokus and are called with individual names, and it is simply a way of calling them in order to differentiate them from low-rank races such as Orcs and Lizardmen.」
Well, the lecture about this sort of matter is something that I wanted to ask about in the future though.
「Arachnes strongly possess the dispositions of spiders. Therefore, there are many personal differences but as for the features that are often seen, many of them have multiple legs, release thread, and form nests. Doing things like slowly eating their prey after capturing them, many of them are owners of sadistic tastes, but when increasing their comrades, most of them do it mainly through giving birth……or rather through egg-laying. There are also ones that lay their eggs in their prey though.」
Astarte’s expression suddenly became somewhat overcast. Something might have happened in the past when she degenerated into a Mazoku in the Demon World.
「In that case, there is one thing that I’ve learned. That Officer of Arms, with a high probability…..wants to slowly kill Olivie with her own hands.」
「In the end, what kind of result will that turn into?」
While chasing after us, Sara came asking that question.
「It means that if we chase after Olivie, we will automatically come across the Officer of Arms. Moreover, we’ll be treated as colluders with the master of this dungeon via Diana. On top of that, since she’ll probably be careless in using us, so she won’t kill Olivie immediately and enjoy things for a bit. And that’s where the chance will be.」
We came in together in the hidden room that was in the area that would probably become the scene of the event, and started preparing the water basin. At that time, screams were raised on the other side of the wall.
It seemed that it had started.