Translator: Kell | Editor: Weasalopes
Ponsonia’s Rank A Adventurers
It had been years since they had used the regal conference room. The late King disliked arguments and never once changed the decisions he had made.
A girl in her mid-teens sat on a chair that paled in comparison to the throne beside it, yet still plenty elegant. Princess Kudyastoria watched the argument—or rather, exchange—transpiring before her.
「The Prince’s army… No, there’s no need to call him that anymore. The rebel army is nothing but a ragtag crowd. To think that Einbeast’s army would join him. You just can’t expect anything better from demi-humans.」
「Exactly. Lowly demi-humans don’t stand a chance against Ponsonia’s heavy infantry.」
「The problem now is they shut themselves in Leather Elka, the fort city.」
「What a bunch of cowards. Even when teaming up with the demi-humans, they’re still holing up in there.」
「Hahaha. Damn right.」
The military men were feeling confident. But Kudyastoria thought they didn’t see things clearly, that they lacked foresight.
In the war against Quinbland, the Empire’s forces were a close match with Ponsonia’s pride, its heavy infantry. Quinbland’s fortification of their defenses contributed to it, but to say Ponsonia’s army was clearly superior was doubtful. At least that’s what the report said. The Kingdom only managed to break through the enemy’s defenses because of the man seated beside the Princess, the Captain of the Order of the Knights, Lawrence.
The Captain had his eyes closed and arms folded. Similarly, the valiant Margrave Grugschilt, sitting at the far end, was silent. As to why he was seated at the edge, away from the other high-ranking military officials, it was because his troops weren’t stationed in the capital. His forces were to remain in the border. Though he had already ordered some of them to march for the capital, they probably wouldn’t make it in time for the battle.
「Yikes. Big words coming from the guys who couldn’t even break through Quinbland’s walls.」
Someone voiced out what Kudyastoria was thinking. He sat at the far end of the table as well. While most men in the room sported military uniforms embellished with medals, he wore casual clothing, the kind that ordinary townspeople would wear. His attire felt out of place in the castle.
「Yo, Senkun. Did you really just say that? You’re crazy, dude.」
The two people beside him responded. They wore the same casual attire as well.
「What did you say?!」
「You want me to say it again? Oh, yeah! Isn’t it obvious that Einbeast will have plans to counter the heavy infantry? They’re a quick bunch, right? They might, like, use lots of earth type magic and magic items to restrict your troops’ movement.」
He was right. The heavy infantry could move nimbly even with full armor on because of magic items. But its weakness was it consumed too much energy. It would pose problems if the enemy bought time. And earth-type spells were perfect for stalling, able to turn the ground at one’s feet to mud, for example.
To make matters worse, Ponsonia’s heavy infantry had not trained against earth magic on a massive scale.
「We will not be beaten by such petty spells! Damn adventurer. Is that all you have to say?!」a military official responded, veins popping on his forehead. Indeed, the cool-looking man who voiced his opinion, was an adventurer.
「If I recall correctly, you’re the ones who wanted our help. Oh, crap. Was I just hearing things?」
「Tch. Princess, we don’t need these guys’ help. We can do it ourselves. Please throw them out!」
Many agreed with the official, but Kudyastoria shook her head.
「I cannot do that. Einbeast is no doubt employing adventurers as well. I hear they have two ranked A parties. I’m sure you’re aware that adventurers should fight adventurers. Mr. Senkun’s party, Sweet Pleasure, is the only rank A party in Ponsonia.」
「Man, the fact that we’re the only rank A party in the Kingdom tells the sorry state Ponsonia is in.」
「Dude. That’s going too far.」
Senkun was 150 centimeters tall. He even looked like a child. Sitting beside him was an even gaudier elf with bangs and earrings. And lastly, the one whose words were only “true that” was a huge man about 190 centimeters tall with a bowl cut, his forelocks just long enough to cover his eyes. Despite his looks, he was one of the best healing magic users in the Kingdom. All three were members of the rank A party, Sweet Pleasure.
「We do not need their help! Princess, if you’re worried, please allow us have a mock battle. Our troops against these men.」
Kudyastoria heaved a sigh. She had a feeling it would come to this.
「Sure, I don’t mind.」Senkun said.「But no hard feelings and complaining afterwards, aight?」
「I could say the same to you! I better not hear excuses from your mouth! Use bows or magic or whatever. They won’t work against the infantry’s fourth battalion!」The official was heating up and Senkun fanned the flames.
The high-ranking government official seated next to Kudyastoria—now her secretary—whispered in her ear.「I don’t think they’ll calm down unless they fight.」
The Princess sighed once more.「Very well. If both parties agree to it, you may have your mock battle. But I don’t want any more disruptions after this. Our enemy lies somewhere else.」
「Yeah, yeah. Let’s just get to it!」Senkun said.
The meeting convened to come up with strategies against the combined forces of Austrin and Einbeast’s army somehow ended in a mock battle.
「I can’t believe it.」
An hour later—as Senkun had announced—the mock battle, fought in the Order’s training grounds outside the castle, was already over. Three adventurers versus ten heavy infantry soldiers. The victor stood at the center.
「Man, that was easier than expected!」
「Dude, like, I know, right?」
All ten soldiers lay sprawled on the ground. The military official stared at the scene in disbelief.
What did they do? Kudyastoria wondered. As soon as the fight started, the soldiers flew in the air and crashed into the ground then stopped moving. But the adventurers didn’t do anything.
「They pass themselves off as bow and magic users, but based on my investigation, they specialize in creating traps.」Lawrence whispered into the Princess’s ear.
Kudyastoria realized something. Senkun knew this would happen. So before the fight—not a moment ago, but from way back—they set up the traps.
「Can outsiders enter the training grounds easily?」
「No. But workers regularly come in for repairs and maintenance.」
So they disguised themselves as workers.
「Did you see that, Princess? We won!」
「W-W-Wait! You can’t possibly call that a fight!」
「I thought there’d be no complaining.」
The official swallowed the rest of his words.
「So, who’s up next? Ponsonia’s strongest man right there?」
Lawrence stared at Senkun intently.「Are you a Man Gnome?」the Captain asked.
「So what if I am?」
A number of people’s expressions changed—those who knew that the King was killed by a Man Gnome. Only a few were privy to the information.
「Princess, the heavy infantry are no match against Sweet Pleasure.」Lawrence said.
「You’re right. I understand your point, Mr. Senkun. You wanted to show that a few men can win even against a large army. Your strategy lies in preparations and leading enemy to the battlefield. That, and traps.」
「Whoo! You’re smart, Princess. That makes things easier.」
Senkun didn’t have to agree to the mock battle. After all, winning wouldn’t earn them money. But by showing how they easily led the soldiers by their noses, people would think that perhaps they could do it against the enemy as well. Senkun agreed to the fight so his strategy would be accepted more easily.
「All right, then. I ask you, Princess. Do you want to abandon Pond?」Senkun asked nonchalantly.
Before the officials could grasp the weight behind his words, Kudyastoria answered.「If Pond is deserted, the enemy will surely use the town as a base. You will then trigger the traps you set up there. Is that what you’re saying?」
「Will the enemy fall for an obvious bait?」
「Of course, a few… hundred people will have to stay behind. You’ll have to sacrifice soldiers too. Someone has to play the “cowardly soldiers who ran away” role.」
「H-How dare you suggest we throw lives away! Our soldiers are noble men!」a military man interjected, finally catching up with the conversation.
Sunken’s easygoing attitude suddenly changed. He gazed at the official with cold eyes.「A few hundred lives will destroy the enemy. Or are you saying your plan of fighting “fair and square” won’t have casualties? I hate to break it to you pal, but thousands will die at the very least.」
「You don’t go to war for gains and losses!」
「What a load of crap. Of course it’s about gains and losses. I mean, we’re getting 200 million from this job.」
Kudyastoria felt just a tad bit irritated at Senkun for disclosing their reward like it was nothing. What he suggested was logical, but lacked heart. To rule a Kingdom, one must have compassion. You wouldn’t get the citizens on your side by ruling through pure logic and reason.
But if the royal capital falls, all this logic and compassion won’t matter anymore…
The choices weighed heavy on Kudyastoria’s mind. If she followed Senkun’s proposal, there would be fewer casualties and they could deal a heavy blow at the enemy. But problems might rise later on. The new queen treats her soldiers like they’re disposable.
In these kinds of strategies, those who were guilty of heinous crimes or received death penalty would be used. But the chances of success would go down. If they escaped and turned into bandits, the public’s trust in her would plummet.
But fighting the enemy head-on would result in huge casualties, and the Kingdom’s power would greatly decline.
If the only downside is my reputation going down, then the fewer casualties is the better choice…
「Princess Kudyastoria!」A messenger came running.
「Th-There’s a messenger from Quinbland!」
Everyone present—not just the Princess—froze in surprise. Are they declaring war too? Kudyastoria’s face turned pale thinking of the worst possible scenario.
「Why would they be here?」
「H-He says he come in peace.」
「The Empire wants to form an alliance! Quinbland’s Prime Minister is here on Emperor Kaglai’s behalf.」