The dragon roars once again.
It feels strong enough to send my consciousness flying if I loosen up my abdominal muscles even just a little bit.
Perhaps sensing he could not make me faint like Christoph, the Dragon stops roaring and approaches me instead.
It probably wants to use a more direct method.
「L-Lintbloom…… chief…… this dragon is not an opponent you can fight!」
Gido is trembling while in a ready stance with his sword as he appeals to me with a tear-stained face.
Nobody can blame him, asking him to stay calm in front of a giant dragon dozens of meters tall is impossible.
That reminds me, I remember hearing about some dragon of legends.
I don’t know if this is the same one, but it may be intelligent.
I’ll try talking to it.
「We’re sorry for disturbing your place of slumber. We’ll be leaving now so you can continue your afternoon nap……」
When I was still in mid-sentence, the dragon raises its front leg and swipes at me sideways.
I was able to jump backwards to barely avoid being hit but the wind pressure was enough to send me tumbling backwards three times.
「……it doesn’t look like talking works. Everyone, spread out.」
The difference in size is too great so if we group together, it’ll just squash us all at once.
One person will have to dodge its attacks while the others counterattack.
Fortunately, it isn’t very fast based on that previous strike.
Everyone, aside from Christoph, should be fast enough to dodge.
With that said, it’s hard to believe regular swords can get through the tough-looking scales covering its entire giant body.
The only weapons that look effective are my hammer and Balbano’s axe.
「You guys don’t have to worry about attacking, just focus on evading. Balbano and I will attack so escape to the top when we create an opening.」
I use a forceful tone while raising my hammer.
The highest point I can reach with my attack is its front legs at best.
I’m not looking to deal a fatal blow, but it might writhe in pain if I crush its finger or something.
Even I feel tremendous pain when I stub my toe on a desk.
「I don’t care if you’re Lintbloom or whoever, but getting hit with a hammer while you’re sleeping isn’t-……」
I guess I would also feel like killing someone out of frustration if that happened to me.
As if understanding my thoughts, the dragon roars angrily and swipes its foreleg at us again.
The trajectory of its claw leads toward Celia and Kroll. I hope they can dodge it.
「Kuh! Can’t hit me!」
Celia hops sideways and tumbles to evade the claw.
Meanwhile, Kroll closes his eyes and stands still.
「Idiot, dodge it!」
I instinctively shout at him.
The large claw looked to tear Kroll apart.
「I see it!」
At that moment, Kroll’s eyes shoot wide open, then he dodges the claw by a hair’s breadth before jumping forward, of all things.
He slashes at the dragon’s giant tree trunk of an arm with his unsheathed sword and a sharp clang reverberates throughout the cave.
「There is nothing my sword can’t cut.」
At the same time Kroll finished his sentence, the blade of his glittering sword stabs into the ground.
「Your sword broke.」
Kroll’s sword snapped in half right in the middle.
「Like I said, you don’t have to attack. If you don’t listen to what I say, you’ll get buttfucked!」
「Hey pal, so you swing that way after all?」
Argh, this is not the time for that, Balbano.
That thing is attacking again.
The dragon does not even care about Kroll’s weak counterattack, instead it gets upset, probably from swinging at air, and raises its front leg up high.
「It wants to crush us! Jump backwards.」
It aimed for Gido.
The limb swinging down was even more lethargic than before
The arm that slammed into the ground with unbelievable power sent rock shards scattering in all directions.
Gido tries hastily to block with his shield but wasn’t able to cover his entire body as he collapses after countless stones pelted his limbs.
「Let’s go, pal.」
The movement that limb made as it came down to the ground made a rather large opening.
Balbano and I run simultaneously at the dragon.
Its aim did not deviate from being Gido.
After all, it would only take one more attack to finish him off.
It should retreat if we’re able to bash its leg before it can complete its attack.
However, the dragon didn’t continue its attack mindlessly.
It quickly turned its attention to us, trying to mow us down with its right leg.
The targeted Balbano deftly rolls out of the way.
You would think as a dwarf he would move slow, but he actually isn’t that sluggish.
Balbano, who reached the dragon before me, took a heavy swing at the dragon’s leg with his axe.
The dwarven axe should be able to split that leg even if it has the same thickness as the trunk of giant tree.
A sharp metallic sound rung out.
「So that’s not good enough?」
Balbano’s axe snapped in half from the handle portion.
The blade which danced in the air before falling to the ground was also dented with the shape of the dragon’s scale.
Even as axe made with dwarven metal can’t come close to getting through that thing’s scales.
And now I’m the only one with a decent weapon.
Dashing towards the dragon one beat later, I take a swing with my hammer, utilizing the momentum from my run as well.
I purposely aim for the tip of its foot.
The hammer I’m holding is made with the same material as the axe that broke, so it will probably produce the same result even if I get a decent hit in.
「I’ll hammer your toe!」
Not straying from the spot I aimed, the hammer accurately pounded the base of the dragon’s giant claw.
The impact made a dull sound and the recoil made my hands feel numb.
When I look at the hammer, I find that it has become flat and the handle was bent.
However, I can tell the blow was effective.
No blood was shed and the claw didn’t snap off but its body definitely shook when my attack hit its mark.
Its face warped with anger and pain as it glared at me, disregarding both the fleeing Balbano as well as the fallen Gido.
So a dragon feels pain when it stubs its toe too.
I’ll need to use this chance to let everyone escape.
「Run away Balbano, I’ll figure something out.」
As I say that, I hold the crooked hammer in my left hand so I can wield the Dual Crater with my right hand.
「Sorry. I’m powerless here.」
Balbano listens obediently, putting Gido on his shoulder before falling back.
Don’t worry about it, it’s already hard enough to fight when I have to be mindful of Celia or Kroll.
It’s easier if that thing aims only at me.
The dragon roars again, though I’ve already gotten used to it by the third time.
「Here I go.」
I run straight ahead with my hammer and sword in hand.
First, it swipes at me horizontally with its right hand.
I crouch to the ground as low as possible to avoid being hit.
Next, it swings its left hand down at me.
I change course and take a diagonal route.
I use the hammer only to destroy the larger rocks flung at me from the shockwave of the attack, taking the hits from the small rocks with my body.
Naturally, it really hurts but it shouldn’t cause any major damage so long as it doesn’t hit my head.
Now, how will this guy react when I get within range of its feet while avoiding attacks from both of its arms?
It would make things easy if it just moved back, though I doubt it would do something like that after getting enraged from the hit on its toe.
Sure enough, as I get up close, the dragon attempts to bite me, sticking out its neck and opening its large mouth.
I hurl my hammer as its jaws separate.
The heavy object spins in the air several times before crashing into one of its teeth.
Take that, you don’t have scales inside your mouth.
The weapon makes a dull thud before that one tooth snaps at the root.
I hear Celia moan in pain behind me.
Oh right, she recently fixed her cavity.
「I’m not done yet!」
I swing my Dual Crater at the snout of the dragon whose movements stopped due to pain.
It reflexively closes its mouth so I would be slashing at its scales. It better not break my sword.
If the Dual Crater breaks, Nonna will cry while headbutting me a hundred times.
A dull clang rings out on impact, then something falls to the ground a few moments later.
It was a dragon’s scale.
「You did it!」「It shed blood!!」
Celia and Balbano cheer.
The Dual Crater cuts into the dragon’s snout and red blood sprays out.
However, I’m not happy.
The Dual Crater definitely slashed its body.
Yet I thought I would have made a deep and clean cut from its snout to its chin.
「What impressive scales.」
I was able to tear off a single scale.
In exchange, it deflects my Dual Crater and prevents me from slashing its face.
「This will be a tough fight.」
I settle my heart down and think calmly.
If I can’t tear its body apart, then I’ll have to aim for its vitals.
I don’t know where the vitals are on a dragon specifically, but like all living things, probably its head or heart.
It’s impossible to cut off its head so I either have to pierce straight through the top of its head or through its heart.
The Dual Crater is by no means a small sword, yet it still isn’t long enough for this particular opponent.
Moreover it is hard, even with my strength, to make deep cuts on its body through the hard scales.
「What do I do?」
If I take a clean hit from the enemy’s attacks, I’ll be squished like a little insect.
This fight is a little too unfair.
「Aegir-sama…… is smiling.」
I unconsciously grin.
This kind of fight probably sets my soul on fire more so than crushing goblins.
Despite going crazy with rage from getting a tooth broken and shedding blood from its snout, the dragon seems to have recognized me as more than just an insect.
It spreads its previously folded wings, flaps them once and pushes itself backwards.
The gust of wind created from the single beat of its wings makes me lose my footing.
「Uooh, what a strong wind.」
「C-chief…… Lintbloom…… can fly……」
Gido, who is being carried by Balbano, frantically tries to inform me.
Don’t push yourself, besides it’s already too late.
The dragon rises into the air then dives down toward me.
Its speed is worlds apart from before.
「I won’t make it if I use my head.」
I don’t have time to think about how to dodge.
I lock my eyes on that thing and rely on my instincts to twist my body out of the way.
I evade its claw, its fangs, and avoid getting pinned by its body, but still get hit by its tail.
Just when I thought I got hit, I rolled on the ground rapidly.
「Aah! I’m going back!」
「You’d only get in the way if you go back! Just go back up.」
I can see Balbano carrying the shouting Celia as he returns to the rope even as the world spins around me.
After tumbling for a while, I crash into the wall.
I check my body while enduring the sharp pain.
No bones were broken and my innards didn’t fly out of my chest.
It looks like I tripped over the tail rather than getting hit by it.
Fortunately for me, I rolled quite a bit so the speed dropped.
All I know is that the pain hurts and my eyes are spinning and everything in my stomach has now come out.
Because of that though, I’ve sobered up as well.
The dragon doesn’t have any intention to wait for me to recover after throwing up on the ground.
Its earth-shaking steps carry it forward toward me and then it slowly raises its leg.
So it wants to crush me underfoot.
I keep track of its movements while pretending to continue throwing up.
Right when its foot was about to come down on me, I roll to the side and narrowly escape.
「This is an uncool attack but……it hurts!」
As soon as I get up, I swing my sword at its lowered leg.
The razor-sharp blade of my Dual Crater perfectly cuts into the area between its finger and claw.
Unlike its earlier roars of intimidation, it lets out a more of a whining scream.
Fufufu, it hurts, doesn’t it.
I’ve done the same thing accidentally when cutting my nails with a small knife.
I really wanted to cry when that happened.
The dragon spreads its wings once again and dances in the air, putting some distance between us.
I swiftly retreat until I’m close to the wall of the cave.
As long as I’m here, it can’t make a rapid descent and fly towards me.
Or else, it will crash into the wall.
The dragon hovers in the air but doesn’t approach me.
I thought it was scared of the wall but something seems strange.
It’s facing this way while sucking in air.
「C-chief…… Lintbloom can…… guh……」
The injured Gido shouts again.
「Lintbloom can…… breathe fire……」
Right as Gido finishes his sentence, an intense stream of fire shoots out of the dragon’s mouth.
Its power makes even Alice’s magic seem like a child playing around with fire and it doesn’t look like I can avoid it.
I swing my Dual Crater.
「It’s not as bad as that time.」
Compared to the calamity at Dard mountain, this similarly seems like child’s play.
I swing my Dual Crater down as the flames approach me.
The fire in front of me is split apart, separating the fire into three walls, one on top and one on either side of me.
I managed to avoid getting hit directly, but it still felt really hot.
「D-don’t struggle, you’ll fall! Ooh!」
Celia must have brushed away Balbano’s hand.
The screaming voice is getting closer.
The flames were split apart but it still seemed to engulf me so she probably thought I got burned to death when she couldn’t see me from the outside.
Don’t worry, there’s nothing in the cave that will cause the fire to spread.
The fire around me will eventually die down too so you’ll see me come out of this alive.
I can hear that thing roar during the short time before the fire vanishes.
Following that, there was a continuous deep rumbling and shaking from something resembling a cave-in before it eventually becomes quiet.
Celia jumps at me crying when the flames peter out and as I look around me, I don’t see any sign of that thing anymore.
「Huh? Where did it go?」
Balbano points to the ceiling with a blank look on his face.
「Hanging like a bat…… -wait, what’s that!?」
A large hole opened up in the ceiling of the cave and a ray of light shines down almost like God was about to descend down from the heavens.
It’s just sunlight.
「So it escaped above ground……」
「It made a hole just by bashing its head once against the wall. Its original entrance might have been sealed off by a cave-in.」
「It probably left after thinking Aegir-sama got burned to death.」
If the Dual Crater didn’t cut apart the flames, I would have become a piece of steak.
Woah, the rocks have turned red and are melting.
How powerful were those flames?
「Because you made it angry, it didn’t pay any attention to us at all.」
「It wasn’t anything more than a little pestering.」
With me and Balbano safe, we could relax and make jokes.
Celia is clinging to my waist with my relieved smile on her face.
Phew, that was close, really close.
「Did that dragon leave to the surface?」
What’s wrong, Kroll. Should I hug you too?
「……that thing went outside and I believe it had the city of Lintbloom in its eyes.」
Kroll and I look at each other.
Celia also got in the mix while still grabbing onto me and the three of us stare silently.
「Hurry! Let’s head back to the city!!」
If that thing gets to the city, it won’t end with just a few casualties.
More importantly, Leah plus Claire and her company are there.
They can’t put up any resistance, let alone run away.
「Balbano, lend me the best and heaviest weapon you have!」
「Sure! We’ll all head to the city as well. We can’t sit back and drink while that thing’s around.」
We rush out of the cave and run along the tunnel.
Balbano kicks the drunk dwarves along the way while shouting to gather his friends.
「This is the best thing I got, though it’s not light enough for a human to carry.」
Ignoring all he said, I grab the giant warhammer in my left hand and run out the exit.
「In one hand? As expected of my pal……」
Argh, this isn’t time for talking.
「Aegir-sama, the dragon flies in the air. You won’t be able to reach it with a sword or hammer if there’s no ceiling.」
「You’re probably right. On top of that, it has those scales. Arrows won’t have any effect on it.」
To be honest, I have no idea how to fight it.
It might just burn down the entire city.
I still have to let the girls escape somehow, along with the other citizens too.
「It looks like Claire-san is going to be ruined.」
I want to do something but I unfortunately can’t fly.
Balbano, who is stroking his beard after shutting up, spoke up.
「Can you win if its wings are taken away?」
「I’ll figure something out if it falls to the ground.」
「In that case, I have an idea!!」
Balbano shouts happily in a certain direction.
「Fufufu, the time has come for our masterpiece to be of use!!」
Interesting, I’m certain ‘that’ can penetrate the dragon’s scales in spite of how hard they hard.
Let’s drag that thing out of the sky.
–Third Person POV–
Battle of White City. Arrival of Reinforcements. White City Royal Palace.
「Ivan Galchenko Defense Supreme Commander.」
「Yes, Your Majesty!」
High officials dressed in fancy attire have gathered here in the royal palace while the battle of White City continues.
Sitting on the throne with his eyes closed in the center is Jutland II.
Everyone’s eyes are concentrated on Galchenko.
He led as many troops as possible to White City amidst the chaos caused by the fall of Albens.
「Those Imperial savages have regrettably forced my nation to fight a difficult war.」
Cannons could be heard echoing sporadically in between their words.
Skirmishes would continue in some area of the wall regardless of the time of day.
「The west has completely fallen into their hands, and even the eternal capital in Jutlandgrad has also been ravaged by the war.」
Galchenko keeps his head lowered in silence.
「And that blame should fall on you as the supreme commander, do you have any objections to that?」
「I have none. Military Minister, Your Excellency.」
The Cabinet Minister of military affairs nods, taking a breath before saying what he has to.
However Jutland II casually raises his hand to interrupt him.
「Galchenko, I don’t think you are incompetent or disloyal. Everything just didn’t go your way, that’s all.」
「I-…… I am unworthy of your words.」
Galchenko sheds tears as he falls to his knees dejectedly.
He wasn’t able to protect his fatherland, he allowed harm to befall the citizens and he even let the capital be turned into a battlefield.
As a soldier, there is no greater shame than that.
The ruler governing Olga Federation lets out a single sigh.
This particular incident was also painful for him.
「But sure punishment or reward is the fate of a military official, responsibility must be taken.」
After saying that, the King signals for the Military Minister to continue.
「Ivan Galchenko, you will be dismissed as the Supreme Commander of Defense. Further, you will assume responsibility for suffering defeat and a trial will be held…… tomorrow morning.」
Galchenko doesn’t say anything as he lifts his body up and bows his head deeply.
「I cannot imagine you will flee after all the achievements you have brought about. Someone will be sent to your home to get you tomorrow morning, so you are free to do as you wish until then. You will return the medal of commander bestowed upon you.」
After a final bow, low enough to touch his head to the ground, Galchenko begins to leave the throne room.
The King spontaneously stands up and shouts towards the doors.
「Your Majesty as well, take care. Victory to the Olga Federation!」
The general, slightly more than 50 years old, executes a perfect salute before taking his leave.
The King burns the last image of his retainer of more than 20 years into his eyes.
Everybody in the room knew that the trial could not be held tomorrow.
The reason a trial was deliberately scheduled on the day right after he was dismissed was to protect the man’s honor.
The defeat began with the annihilation of the naval fleet in the first battle, a place outside of Galchenko’s authority.
In order to prevent him from losing any more honor than he already has, Jutland II himself made arrangements for him.
「Your Majesty, subsequently please nominate the new Supreme Commander of Defense.」
「Stessel broke through the blockade in the north, didn’t he……. Alright, make it quick.」
The King covers his reddened eyes for a bit before composing himself.
Post-nomination. White City Headquarters.
「I’m Martin Stessel. I was appointed to be the Supreme Commander of Defense starting from today.」
He stands upright and salutes to everyone in the headquarters.
Meanwhile, all those present seem to have the slightest amount of anxiety within their eyes.
That is probably because the person who took over the position of Supreme Commander in place of Galchenko was a young man, who looks to be in his mid-thirties.
The man was dashing and handsome enough to star as the lead actor on stage during peace times, but that thin and unreliable look to him fostered more doubt in a place like the battlefield.
Paying no mind to the insecurity in the eyes of his new subordinates, the man with his nicely trimmed blond hair scanned the entire room with his beautiful blue eyes.
「Everyone, your eyes are bloodshot. How many days have you not slept?」
Everybody looks at each other.
「Well, that’s because those guys from the Empire are attacking us incessantly……」
「We’ve only taken brief naps whenever it gets quiet……」
「How many days have you not slept? Answer the question.」
「Three days!」「Five for me!」
After all the subordinates provide their answers in a hurry, Martin’s expression relaxes and he smiles
「Alright, then here’s your first order. All of you will sleep soundly until tomorrow morning. You do not need wake up for anything unless I call for you. You will also fill your stomachs.」
The subordinates were puzzled at the sudden order, but Martin continues with a smile.
「What, the enemy is only sending out small detachments because they have no other way to attack. The last all-out offensive was three days ago, so it will take at least four days for them to reorganize.」
「But how can we sleep with no care in the world while the enemy stands before us……」
Martin continues, interrupting the subordinates who continue to express their worries.
「Put yourself in the place of the enemy commander.」
His slow and imposing tone echoed throughout the once murderous headquarters.
「Your opponent is a man with red eyes who is both lacking sleep and starving.」
After saying that, he lightly prods the forehead of one of his subordinates.
「Then you have a man who is full of energy, well-rested and well-fed. Which one would you rather not have as your enemy?」
Then Martin adds one final order in a joking tone.
The strained mood loosens up slightly.
「You have to learn when to be vigilant and when to relax. You’ll just tire yourself out if you remain tense for so long.」
Martin proceeds to tap the shoulder of each subordinate.
「You’re too skinny. Meat, go eat some meat.」
「Haha, I’m ashamed.」
「You stink. Go take a bath before you sleep, but don’t sleep in the water. Don’t drown before going out to war.」
「Pfft, understood sir.」
「You look like you’re in need of a woman. Go visit an operating brothel.」
「I-I’m a virgin.」
「You have bags under your eyes. What a waste of your lady-killing skills, go sleep right away.」
「Yessir! I will do so for an entire day!」
After making his way around to everyone, Martin got everyone’s attention once again.
「Don’t worry, we will win. I brought a trump card as our reinforcements!」
The window was opened at the same time those words were spoken.
“Reinforcements”, a word everybody wanted to hear.
All of the subordinates crowd around the window.
「Where are the reinforcements……?」
They couldn’t see the much anticipated reinforcements waiting for them outside the window.
The only thing there was the 20,000 troops that accompanied Martin when he broke through the blockade to get into White City from the north.
That was already a well-known fact among all those in the headquarters and they could not expect reinforcements of a mere 20,000 to greatly influence the state of battle.
Seeing everyone’s confused faces, Martin opens his mouth and laughs.
「Hahahaha! Just as I thought from sleep-deprived people, your heads are not thinking clearly! Look carefully. Not on the ground, but in the air!」
The men looked up at the cloudy sky and their expressions changed from surprise to delight.
Something white was floating down from the gray sky.
When that substance touched the window or the faces of the men peeking out, it melted quietly and turned into water.
It goes without saying that it was snow, winter has finally come.
「Look gentlemen, it’s snowing. Winter is here! The Federation’s winter is upon us!」
The murmuring turns into cheers.
It’s the first time the Imperial army has stepped so far inside the Federation, so they have not experienced the hellish cold of the Federation winters.
They might be equipped with iron armor but they shouldn’t have carried fur pelts with them.
In addition, the military slaves might as well be half-naked in this weather.
「Gentlemen, eat! Sleep! Prepare for the soon-approaching time to counterattack.」
The generals in the headquarters rush to fill their stomachs and get rest in bed like they were charging towards an enemy.
The snow falls indiscriminately on both armies, welcoming the harsh winter.
Federation VS. Empire – Comparison of Military Forces (Current + Losses = Max Mobilization. In the case where numbers don’t match, it means there are spare forces.)
Military Strength – Current: 600 000, Max Mobilization: 2 550 000, Losses: 1 170 000, Civilian Victims: 940 000
Military Strength – Current: 2 110 000, Max Mobilization: 3 100 000, Losses: 990 000 (Military slaves not included)
- Nat: vomiting sfx ↩