Chapter 490: Unconditional Love and Respect
I jerk my chin with my sword pointed at my allied soldiers.
Although my voice doesn’t come out, the meaning of my action is conveyed clearly, and my allies collide head-on with the advancing enemy.
Spears intersect, swords cross, and strikes and kicks fly back and forth.
Sounds of battle fill the air from the cracks of spearheads breaking against shields and the piercing clanks of blades hitting each other to the dull gush of metal sinking into flesh and cries of pain.
These are the noises of fighting I’ve grown accustomed to from hearing them everyday lately.
「I’ve got to say, it feels quite different.」
The enemy soldiers have matching armor and equipment, with the commander-class personnel wearing decorative ornaments on their shoulders and cloaks.
Meanwhile, my allies disguised as volunteer soldiers are dressed in ragged clothes and appear closer to brigands.
「Looking at it this way, I can understand why only half was sent.」
Despite being outnumbered by double the troops, the enemy must have still believed they could rout us.
Unfortunately, that estimation is wrong.
「It’s no good, we can’t push them back! They’re formidable!」
「They’re wearing chainmail underneath! Furthermore, they are organized and their weapons are well-maintained! These guys aren’t bandits, they’re an army!」
Momentum played a part in helping the enemy push in the beginning, but the 400 individuals here are not only part of my personal army, they are all veteran soldiers with a wealth of experience and aren’t cowards who will back down from a little pressure.
「The enemy’s momentum has ceased. Align your spears and drive them back.」
「The rearguard will circle to the left and right and aim at the enemy’s torso and ass.」
「It’s a rare win by numbers. Let’s take it easy and try not to die.」
The tides quickly start to shift in our favor.
It’s an expected outcome. Crushing the enemy with a small army requires them to be in disorder first.
Having to be in disguise gave the enemy the upper hand in terms of bows and heavy equipment, but that wasn’t enough to fill the gap created by the difference in troop count.
「There are exceptions though.」
Sekrit mutters beside me. An image of a group of red-caped men surfaces in my mind from her words which I erase right away.
「By the looks of things, we’ll win like this. Are there any methods left for the enemy?」
Sekrit answers without leaving my side.
「We don’t have enough troops! At this rate they’ll collapse from the rear flank!」
「Confuse the enemy! Target the boss, search for the commander……that must be him.」
「It’s definitely him. Rather, it’d be strange if that isn’t him.」
The distressed enemies stare at me.
「Hooh, so they saw through me in an instant.」
Defeating the enemy general is the best means of overcoming a predicament.
With that said, it isn’t so simple to find me when I’m hidden in such a chaotic battlefield.
「Even a child can do it. Hey, here they come.」
The enemies charge at me without a shred of doubt.
「Let’s go, you mass of vanity!」
More than a few mounted soldiers brandish their swords.
「I am the hero of salvation, Golden Lager!!」
Saying it myself makes it sound pathetic.
I allow one of the enemies to swing down his sword so I can deflect it outside……in other words, in the opposite direction of his body.
This results in the arm of the rider to be pulled away from his body, revealing his more vulnerable area, the torso.
I pass right by him and, with a sharp exhale of my breath, slash his side.
Sensations of my blade cutting flesh, entering into the enemy’s body and slicing through sinew travels up my arm.
He groans and eventually falls limply to the ground.
Bundles of tendons and blood vessels are located in that part of his torso.
If they get cut, he won’t die immediately, but he won’t ever swing his sword a second time and even if he were to wake up, he won’t be able to fight.
「This guy, acting like a show-off!!」
The next enemy rushes in. While he is on foot, he is a man of large build, wearing a set of full plate armor and equipped with a sword and shield.
Hey, I’m doing this unwillingly too.
I stick out my left hand to stop the shield he’s using to push with.
My feet slid half a step backwards on the ground, but the enemy’s momentum was completely halted.
「I’m not done y――」
Before he can complete his sentence, I whip a front kick at the center of his abdomen.
The heavily-protected enemy soldier twirls in the air and then drops to the ground.
Again, before he can finish, I close the distance and thrust my sword into the hole of his visor.
The lump of metal twitches and then becomes motionless.
「You guys talk too much.」
I pull out my sword.
「I can say the same about you, shiny bastard.」
As I turned around, an enemy jabs his spear at my face, using the same weak point of full plate armor that I previously aimed for.
「Be careful next time.」
My left hand grabs the spearhead and then I pull the weapon toward me with all my might.
Not expecting his attack to be caught, the enemy doesn’t let go in time and is pulled together with the spear.
I hold my sword steady at waist level rather than thrusting it out, confirm that the blade stabs deep into the belly of the lightly-clothed enemy, and then twist the sword once to either side before tossing the body away.
「Experienced knights in succession……and ambushes from behind are ineffective. He isn’t your average show-off!」
「Don’t be tricked by his foolish appearance! He’s a skilled practitioner!」
They gouge my heart everytime.
「I see, it seems the person Leopolt-sama told us to listen to isn’t an ordinary man. He’s got some bad fashion sense though.」
「Yeah, I thought he was a deviant when he came dressed in the shiny armor, but he’s not someone to sneeze at.」
I can’t accept the praise either.
「Wait a minute. I didn’t realize because of the abnormal appearance, but that frame and fighting style, the only difference is the weapon he wields……」
Not good, they’re going to discover my identity.
Is it because I’m fighting like I usually do?
If I’m exposed, it’s all over.
I have to change how I fight.
「This is the end of the side show.」
I ignore the suspicious way of talking and observe the next enemy.
He is high-spirited, but he moves sluggishly and his center of gravity is off……he’s either a new recruit or a bungling idiot.
I abandon my sword on the spot.
Such an action on the battlefield attracts everyone’s attention.
「Here I go.」
I run empty-handed toward the enemy soldier.
「Is this guy for real――」
The enemy, dictated by anger, prepares to swing his sword.
I hold the blade filled with all of his strength aloft with the palm of my hand.
A swing from above is powerful, but that’s only if a certain amount of force is used.
The moment the swinging motion changes from up to down, there is no power in the sword and a blank space is born.
Since this soldier is clumsy, the blank space was long enough for me to interrupt.
If he was more skilled, he would have retracted his sword without delay.
Doing so would slice my palm in hopes that the pain would remove my hand.
Well, it’s not like I would let go that easily though.
Now then, I would usually crush the opponent’s hand at this point, but that would arouse suspicion.
「I am Malt’s hero of salvation, Golden Lager. Let me burn the essence of war into your eyes. It is an inevitability for this martial art to send you to heaven.」
I twist my body as soon as I release the enemy’s arms.
「Lager Lariat of Salvation!」
I whip my body forward and slam my arm into his chin.
The enemy somersaults and falls on his head, knocking himself unconscious.
I move on to the next enemy.
「H-he’s coming! He’ll use either his body or fist, get into defensive positions……」
I’m not using either.
I use the running start to leap and then kick the enemy’s face with the soles of both my feet, sending him flying.
I don’t think he thought a drop kick was an option since he failed to defend himself.
It’s an unfitting attack on the battlefield no matter how you look at it, but the strike contained my entire weight, propelling the enemy like a marble, who bounced several times on the ground before laying lifeless.
「That was just one of three secret techniques, the Malt Lager Kick!!」
My voice alternates from low to high volume and the speech pattern is something I think of on the spot, so that’s why it sounds shaky.
But that’s fine.
The usual me definitely wouldn’t talk unnecessarily in front of the enemy, but most importantly, surely no one will believe such an insecure person is me.
「Forget what I said earlier. The feudal lord is a demon in battle……this can’t be him.」
「Did the Malt Kingdom always have such secret techniques? Uhh, sure, I guess. They sound strong.」
I cleared the doubts. Now I’ve just got to endure the embarrassment from all the staring.
My attention shifts beside me and I notice Sekrit, who had been fighting next to me this whole time, is defending and retreating against a smallfry.
Apparently, she burst out laughing from what just happened and the enemy took advantage of that.
In any case, my allied soldiers have pushed further and it’s safe to say that the battle has been decided during the farce.
Suddenly, a small shadow wrapped in black robes lines up beside me.
The beautiful blonde hair sticking out from the hem of the robes tells me the individual inside is Brynhildr.
「Oh, you came. I appreciate it.」
I grin despite knowing it can’t be seen from under my armor.
However, I was greeted with a cold emotionless face.
「……do you have anything to say to me?」
「Mmm, well we’re in the middle of battle, so……」
I don’t think this is a good time to have a casual conversation.
「Like I care. Because I am here, you don’t have to worry about leaving yourself open.」
Brynhildr peeks at me with eyes full of anticipation.
Alright then, don’t mind if I do.
「About the time in that forest…… erm…… she is in good health……」
Brynhildr’s eyebrow raises and the corner of her mouth lifts up, revealing her sharp fang.
Crap, wrong answer.
Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, an enemy soldier slips past the other allies and runs this way.
「I’ve got you now, Golden! A clown like you will die here…… huh? I can’t feel my body……?」
Your arms and legs weren’t severed.
Your spine was pulled out along with the removal of your head. He screams in agony as plenty of indescribable things dangle from what is left of him.
It goes without saying Brynhildr is the offender. Nobody besides her could manage such a feat.
She whacks the enemy’s shoulder with the man’s completely separated head and backbone as she glares at me.
「I’m never, eevveeerrrr, going to tell you!!」
Then she puffs her cheeks and looks off in another direction.
Anyways, we’ve won here.
I’ll apologize thoroughly to her at night, praise her beauty, spoil her, and then persuade her to tell me.
「Shout out――shout out in victory!!」
「You’re breaking character. Also, stop the falsetto, it freaks me out.」
I guess my talent for acting is nonexistent.
After defeating the enemy on the border, our march continued steadily.
We didn’t annihilate the enemy in the battle so news of their loss should have reached them, but they must either be thinking it’s fine to ignore a mere 400 enemies or the Vandolea army must have advanced further than expected and aren’t giving them any leeway to respond, since no new enemies showed up.
As of this time, we have arrived at a certain village.
Because the volunteer soldiers are still in disguise, we could not bring a line of carriages from the transport corps, so with the added benefit of also preparing for an enemy ambush, we found a village to sleep in that provided us with a roof over our heads, water and simple food supplies.
If possible, we wanted them to cooperate with us too.
Although we have elites disguised as volunteers, we’re in the end just a small group of 400, and there are limits to what we can do.
If we can get the citizens of Malt to aid us, we can use a variety of plans even if they don’t participate in the battle directly.
We introduce ourselves as Malt volunteer soldiers and state we are currently engaging the South Yuguria army again.
Perhaps I was quick to assume they would accept our explanation readily.
The village chief cut me down by rejecting.
「Please don’t misunderstand, everyone was overjoyed when they heard of your arrival yesterday via an express messenger. By no means are we offended. 」
That is when the fully armored Sekrit plants her foot firmly in front of the village chief.
「Then why won’t you cooperate? Did South Yuguria give you some sweet candy to suck on?」
The village chief shakes his head while trembling in tears from the pressure emitted by Sekrit.
「We have to live here no matter what! This is the only place with a wheat field……we can only live if everyone plows the field! Moreover, it is harvest season now…… it will be all over for us if the field burns or if the harvesters die!」
I want to commend him for his efforts in the face of Sekrit’s stare.
The village chief looks like a weary middle-aged farmer with unshaved stubble.
He doesn’t seem brave or capable of making bold decisions.
To be fair, the other people peeking nervously from the window also have the same faces.
「If you want supplies and a resting place, we’ll provide it, so use them as you like. Just……whatever you do, please don’t wreck the field.」
They are not leaning in favor of South Yuguria nor do they hate the Malt Kingdom.
They simply want to work on their fields. War is something they detest and they’ll do whatever they can to avoid getting involved.
There’s nothing to be done if they’re gutless, but that kind of lifestyle is valid too.
Even if we force them to come along, they won’t be of any use.
「Also, we don’t want to associate with a suspicious group……」
「What!? How are we suspicious!?」
From the outside of the window, I hear quiet murmurings of, “everything”, “I’ve never heard of a salvation army in Malt”, “a shiny captain is particularly suspicious”, and “even the soldiers were talking about how your conduct is inconsistent”.
「Anyways, we’ll take one night’s worth of water and food. We don’t intend on causing you harm, but if you’re worried, you can hide young women in a nearby forest.」
I stand up, knowing that talking any further is a waste of time.
However, a small presence that only reaches my stomach in height, yet is also a powerful ball of light, bursts forth. When she takes off her hood, the village chief falls over and the people by the window slip off.
「「「Your Majesty, Celestina!!?」」」
Celestina looks down sadly, or more like apologetically, before slowly lifting her head up and forcing herself to smile.
She closes her eyes briefly and then opens them, slowly opening her mouth in preparation to speak.
She’s trying her best to compile words in her mind to apologize for failing to protect her country and maybe also to express her desire for them to help against their will. Either way, she has a face that is prepared for denunciation and rejection.
However, her words did not come together.
The door collapses inward and the window frame breaks under the weight of the people pushing against it.
Villagers jump out and crawl to gather around Celestina.
My hand instantly reaches for my sword to protect her, but I restrain myself once I see the villagers’ expressions.
「Your Majesty――aah, I didn’t think you would return!」
「I can’t believe I can see Her Majesty up close like this! A-are my eyes deceiving me!?」
「Hey, move it! I want to get a look too!!」
The villagers were desperate like zombies chasing after flesh, yet they had the decency to maintain a safe distance to prevent any harm from coming to the little girl.
Celestina, who initially resolved herself to a barrage of insults, was pleasantly surprised at the positive reaction and smiled back softly.
In doing so, all the villagers seemed to loosen up, and the few who were close to her fainted from an overload of emotions.
「Err, are you alright? Did you get hurt?」
Next, Celestina takes the hand of the village chief who had fallen on his ass in shock at the back and tries to pull him up.
A weak girl like her couldn’t hope to support a grown man’s bodyweight, but the village chief bounces up energetically like a spring.
When Celestina expresses her relief, the village chief bows like a noble of the imperial court and turns to me.
The once tired face of the farmer has now become like a masculine knight.
His unshaven beard has also transformed into a neat handlebar mustache somehow.
「It is time for us, the people of Malt, to stand up.」
Even his voice changed.
「Here we are before Her Majesty, Celestina, the one we should love and adore and show loyalty to. No matter how mighty the enemy, is there reason to fear?」
「If not, then there’s nothing better than that.」
The village chief extends his hand and in response, several villagers stand up.
「Send notice to the neighboring villages as well. Everyone shall congregate under Golden Lager-dono……and most importantly under our Majesty Celestina.」
「That is……the most important.」
Those particular words are effective, but I’m starting to get anxious about using them.
「Your Majesty. If it is within your power, could you listen to a request from a lowly citizen?」
Celestina waits nervously, unsure of what is to come.
The village chief pulls out a fine cloak from the depths of a wardrobe.
His house is in no way that of a rich person’s house. He must have kept the article of clothing specifically for ceremonies.
「Could you write your signature on this? You can add any messages you like. I don’t mind if you call me a vile pig or tell me my breath stinks!!」
I stand up and leave the house.
A few hours later, when the soldiers are still sleeping, I drink water from a well.
I can’t take off my armor even when I sleep because I can’t allow my identity to be known so my body often gets sweaty.
「Brother, you can’t sleep either?」
Celestina also happens to be sitting alone by the well.
Monica is not with her. She might be sleeping.
「You too, huh? I don’t blame you.」
She shouldn’t have any experience camping outside without a tent.
「No. I’m fine with that.」
Celestina proceeds to hug me.
Her body makes a dull thud as it hits my armor and her warmth slowly transmits to me through the metal.
「Everyone loves me. Even though I can’t give them anything, they said looking at my face is enough, they said they would stand up for my sake, and that their lives and their harvest don’t matter.」
I remove only my gauntlet and grip her tiny hand.
I want to take my helmet off too, but I don’t know how to.
「Even though I can’t do anything, even though I fail at everything, they love me no matter what. They are happy. And that……pains me.」
I pat Celestina’s head as she starts to cry.
「I’m scared……that if I get a little bit angry or voice my complaints……everyone’s joyful faces will disappear.」
She’s afraid of disappointing them more than getting criticized.
If you are weak, even unlimited trust becomes a curse that you betray endlessly.
As I think of how to comfort her, something pokes Celestina’s head.
She was hit hard enough that her head bumps into my armor.
When Celestina turns around, she finds Sekrit with her helmet removed.
Before I can question her, she pokes Celestina once more.
「What is a shrimp like you troubled about?」
The way she spoke even made Celestina angry and puff her cheeks.
「I am having a serious discussion! I am a king so I have to meet everyone’s exp――」
「Then let me ask you, whose expectations can you answer when you’re small and incompetent? You fool.」
That was mean.
Celestina’s face is a furious red.
Sekrit, seeing that, smirks and looks off in another direction.
「You couldn’t be more suited to be king.」
She lets out a cute squeal when Sekrit told her something that completely contradicted the previous statement.
That was really cute. I’m not as bad as the village chief, but that made my heart flutter.
「But you said I was stupid and weak……」
「That is exactly why.」
Sekrit pretends to pat Celestina’s head and flicks her instead, giving the agonizing girl a sidelong glance before sitting next to me.
「It is natural for the clever to be praised and the strong to be relied upon. Incompetent people will always seek protection from soldiers.」
「But, you are weak and foolish. Yet they unconditionally follow you nonetheless. This is a rare skill incomparable to that of sages of the masses and heroes.」
Celestina forgets to soothe her reddened forehead and listens intently.
「If an intelligent king’s judgement is clouded, he will lose the people’s faith. If a brave king is defeated in battle, that spells the end of his rule. However, you are different. You are a king who was loved by the people as soon as you were born. I’m not sure if there were more than a few kings in history who can claim they had their citizens’ trust without any power to support it.」
Sekrit inserts a half-eaten piece of dried meat into the gap of my armor and then stands up.
「But I lost the country and the people countless times……」
「And each time, you recovered them. Think about it for a minute. What would happen if a king with an ounce of wisdom and a shred of courage faced off against South Yuguria? The difference in military strength is evident, which will result in the burning of lands and eventual surrender.」
There’s no doubt that would happen. South Yuguria is an opponent that gave even Goldonia a hard time.
With how little strength Malt had, it wouldn’t have made a difference if the king was a little wiser or somewhat stronger.
「But that’s a hindsight view……」
「Yes, true. Does the king require a course of events? You are tiny and incompetent, that’s why Malt wasn’t burned by the fires of war as a result, and now you have the opportunity to take back your country. Do you need me to say more?」
Confirming Celestina did not have any qualms, Sekrit snorts and walks away.
I couldn’t help muttering those words. It stopped Sekrit in her tracks.
「Who are you calling sister, shrimp!」
Just when I was about to protect Celestina, Sekrit simply kicks a pebble on the ground and curses under her breath before leaving.
Afterward, Celestina did not cry when she said she would go back to sleep.
On the contrary, I could see a sense of determination within her eye.
「Hey Brynhildr, what’s wrong?」
「Nothing! I thought you called me, that’s all! I’m going to sleep!」
Wait, do vampires even sleep at night?
Since I’m at it, I might as well apologize.
Brynhildr is a world-class beauty so I have no issue with putting my head to the ground.
We’ll reach Biado soon.
Protagonist: Aegir Hardlett. 25 years old. Autumn.
Status: Goldonia Kingdom Margrave. Great Feudal Lord of Eastern Area. Mountain Legend.
Friend of the Dwarves. Friend of the King of Aless. Dragon Slayer Hero.
Elf Mediator. Sex King of White City. Mad Demon God
Condition (Hero of Salvation, Golden Lager)
Sekrit (big sister), Brynhildr (misheard), Christoph (fainted), Guigue (nursing)
Celestina (unconditional king), Monica (deep sleep), Busco (insurance)
Friendly Troops: Malt Volunteer Army (fake): 400 ⇒ 380
Vandolea Military Volunteers: 5000 ⇒ 4850 (war of attrition)
Enemy Troops: Malt Garrison: Unknown
Assets: -68 000 gold
Sexual Partners: 799
Children who have been born: 70 + 567
Current Location: Near Biado