Chrono follows the wheel track with his eyes. The wheel track extending from under Chrono feet gradually lose its contour as its go further and further.
The grass gradually becomes denser, covering half of the wheel track. Raising his eyes, there’s a dark and quiet untouched forest spread around him.
The untouched forest which spread between the border of Cepheus Empire and The Holy Argo Kingdom was also known as Dark Forest.
Dark Forest is a natural defense with many high mountains, a place where a lot of wolf and brown bear lives.
It was said that even demons from the ancient times are lurking within the forest, but there seems to be horse-drawn carriage frequently passes this place, to the point that it left a wheel track.
It might be the result of merchants who do not want to waste their time via detour or those who do not want to pay the toll tax. In the Marquis Erakis territory where Chrono currently stand, the tax is high.
If you go through other territories, you have to pay a toll tax every time you cross the border, because of that the merchants would only get a small profit.
I can’t comprehend with how they regard money as a priority compared to their life, but I can understand that one must bear the corresponding risk to gain profit. <TLN: High risk, High return.>
That’s why he can understand that the Holy Argo Kingdom is going to invade the Cepheus Empire while taking the risk of crossing the Dark Forest.
However, he cannot comprehends the reason. Why The Holy Argo Kingdom and Cepheus Empire repeatedly skirmished near the border, again and again.
Currently, the status of the relationship between two nations are friendly, but why would the Holy Kingdom of Argo appear with massive military action in this timing?
Even if he asks his own self, Chrono could not understand it. In the end, the only thing he knows is that the Cepheus Empire’s army got forestalled, being unable to repel the invader quickly, his colleague and superior have escaped.
Feeling that something is moving inside the thick forest, Chrono reflexively clasped the handle of his sword, but the seven hundred demi-humans who are his subordinates did not respond to anything.
In this place, there are no elves who are forest specialist, but the beast men who are the majority of his subordinates boasts a keen sense of smell and hearing.
Believing the subordinates who have such sense, Chrono took his hand off the handle. Despite reflectively reaching out to his sword, Chrono does not have good swordsmanship skills.
Not only in fencing, he’s also weak at horse-riding. Therefore he usually moves on foot, but he never thought that his superior and colleagues would abandon him.
According to the report of the scouts, the number of Holy Argo Kingdom army is 10,000 and on his side there are 1,000 troops, Hearing that Marquis Erakis said to him that if he buys some time there would be reinforcements. Ten to one difference… It is checkmate no matter how I think about it.
Currently, Chrono and his subordinates life are in a precarious state. Understanding that, his subordinates morale is also very low.
Many of his men are beast men… They have the head of a beast and the body of a human, thus it was difficult to understand each other expression and words.
At least, if Chrono was an excellent commander, their morale would be high. And they would have some hope left.
Unfortunately, Chrono has just graduated from the military school, has no practical experience, and his grade was bad enough to leave his name in the history of the military school. It was thanks to the teacher in charge of him lowered his head here and there to get him graduated.
For the time being, Chrono is making some effort. Last night he give generous meals and alcohol to raise their morale, but they seem to end up pessimistically accepted that as the last meal of their life.
“General, are you alright?” (Moo~, Moo~)
“Sorry, it looks like something will leak.”
Chrono answered his adjutant who asks him anxiously with honesty.
His adjutant looked at Chrono with his black round eyes then voiced his sorrow.
His adjutant is a beast man with a cow’s head called Minotaur.
His height exceeds 2 meters, and his body is covered with steel-like muscle.
“Don’t worry, I also want to at least show that I still have some room… But you know…”
He was originally a weak human.
He dislikes quarrels, with such a personality, it was insane of him to take command in a battle.
As if his stomach turned into lead, it felt very heavy.
With just a slight stimulation, his peristaltic sphincter will be free.
“Why, despite being like that, you choose to be a soldier?” (Bumo~?)
“Because they told me that the nobility needs to go to the military school.”
The nose ring on the adjutant’s nose shook.
The ring is a magic item with magic art interpretation on it. Thanks to such item, that he can communicate with the beast men whose structure of the vocal cords is different from human beings.
“If it’s now, you still can escape no? In this battle, there won’t be any profit even if you stay behind with beast men no?”
“… Well, that might be true…”
In fact, he was right.
The demi-human such as minotaur who has their body mixed between animal and human or even the elf and dwarf who looks like humans a lot, for the human of this world, if they are not human, then they are a lesser being.
It was a long time ago that God illustrated the demi-humans as a natural enemy of the humans, and since the dawn of the human civilization, the humans has grown in power, they begin to incorporate the demi-humans into their society, as a tool to relieve their stress and anger.
In Cepheus Empire, if you serve the military as a demi-human, after a period of time, the government would grant a citizenship, but you would have to retire if you got yourself injured during battles, and with such injury, it would be hard for demi-humans to look for work.
Still, the way Cepheus Empire does things is still better compared to the other nation. The Holy Argo Kingdom raises the banner of eradicating the demi-humans as their national policy.
Even though he has demi-humans as his subordinates, he lived as a noble, which made Chrono born as a winner group.
“Even if I want to escape, for me to abandon you guys, it is impossible for me to do it.”
“… General, are you seriously saying that?”
As Chrono bitterly smiled, his minotaur adjutant looking at him with amazement.
“Of course, I’m serious. Although, I never thought that my superior and colleagues would abandon me.”
This time, his adjutant seems to be at a loss for words.
“I have neither, the intention to die a dogs death, nor give up.”
“I do not think we can win against the enemy straight on with simple a fence…” (Fumo~)
Saying that the adjutant considering the fence.
The fence is located a little away from the forest border.
The height and width are about 3 meters, the thickness of the wood is around Chrono’s thigh.
The fences are installed at even intervals, and in between them, there’s a gap for which people can pass through.
“Like this, it would be better for us to do a guerrilla warfare, don’t you think so?”
“I’ve thought about that, but even with that alone, it is not enough.”
Saying that Chrono carefully examines the forest.
If he had the time, he would be able to set a guerrilla warfare, but he was far behind the enemy’s movement.
Right now is a chance for them to create a column and march.
Since if the Holy Argo Kingdom passes the Dark Forest first, the one thousand people would not be able to compete against them.
“… I have to drive them back.”
Or else there would be plundering and massacre happening.
Pillage to secure food, and since the enemy advocates the eradication of demi-humans, the massacres of demi-human would be inevitable.
“This is why a religious state is…”
Chrono spat out a small complaint.
Bearing the name of the founder of the house of Marquis Erakis, the city is located less than half a day by a horse from dark forest, the city itself has been developed as a military base as well.
Tyria is currently hearing Marquis Erakis’ report inside the Marquis mansion located at the center of the city.
“What did you say?! You, does that mean you escaped?!”
When Tyria hit the desk, Marquis Erakis’ body trembled in fear.
“B-But, With this, we can earn some time.”
With his fat body, Marquis Erakis tried to make some justification while drenched with cold sweat, together with him, his subordinates followed.
There was no helping it. With all the discrepancy in information. If one thousand demi-humans can halt them, it is a cheap price to pay.
They turn a blaming gaze at Tyria as if saying ‘a girl who doesn’t know the site should not open her mouth!’.
Certainly, Tyria is not at the scene… And she does not know what kind of battlefield they would have.
Right now, the reason why Tyria can shut down Marquis Erakis who’s one year apart from her father the king was because she is the first princess and has the right to the throne.
Tyria felt dizzy due to Marquis Erakis and his subordinates behavior that make her beyond angry, she then remembered,
Thirty years ago, Cepheus Empire was in a turbulent period.
The civil war over the succession to the throne, multiplied by the independence and the invasion of the barbarians of the city-states.
The nobility at that time struggled and failed to respond to the successive disastrous situation, and finally converged the situation with the help of several mercenary groups.
At that time, the Empire supposedly learned the lesson that ‘the incompetent commander who gets their position because of their bloodline won’t be able to win a winnable war, unnecessarily causes damage during wars’.
That is why the empire established a military school and let quasi-nobility to enroll.
But it seems like just like the saying ‘danger past, and God was forgotten’, they soon forget the lesson that they learn.
The mercenary group who helped during those times was given territories at the southern tip of the empire, and now they are called the new nobility.
“Is Chrono included in that word of ‘cheap’?”
“… We tried to convince him to go back with us, but Chrono does not want to abandon his subordinates…”
Tyria strongly gritted her teeth until it made creaking sounds due to rage. For Marquis Erakis, Chrono was just one of his subordinates, but despite being only a son of a baron family from the new nobility, for Tyria he was a special person.
“How many days?”
“How many days until the reinforcement would arrive? Or are you saying you don’t have the intention of saving him?!”
The Marquis and the surroundings jumped out of the room to escape.
“Chrono, you stupid, stupid, idioooot!”
Tyria scratched her blonde hair whom she got from her mother.
Tyria and Chrono were classmates from the same military school.
Although they are classmates they don’t make many contact with each other.
Royalty and New nobility, an honor student and inferior student, their position was too different.
The reason why Tyria noticed Chrono was because he defeated her during a military exercise.
Tyria was someone who defeated her enemies one after another during flag battles and made them captive.
However, just before the end, Chrono launched a counter-offensive that can only be thought of as being suicidal.
Tyria’s side was being assaulted by his whole army, and a few troops took down her flag with ease.
To put it bluntly, he was performing diversion attack, and she fell for it.
Now, Tyria was ashamed every time she remembered her shallowness but, at that time, she was unable to understand him and repeatedly challenged Chrono for a controversial debate.
Since then, she thought Chrono as an interesting man when she talked with him. For her, he was a rare type of nobility who has his own perspective on things and felt the pressure to fulfill his obligation as nobility rather than enjoying the privilege that comes from being born as a nobleman.
Although he was too relaxed to a fault but, even though he was just a son from an upstart family. the new nobility, she never thought of that as a problem.
“For you… Demi-humans are also a target to be protected huh?”
Tyria sighed while narrowed her eyes.
At the moment the heavy cavalry loaded with heavy metal armor plate appear from behind the forest, he regretted that he did not choose to run away.
Chrono himself is aware of his own weakness. His swordsmanship was something that can only be said as amateurish. and he can only use one magic art.
His head is not stupid, but it is not too smart either. He also does not have courage. Even though he tried his best bring out some courage, he now regretted that he did not stick to his nature.
When Marquis Erakis said that he needs to buy time until the reinforcement arrive, Chrono thought it was a bad idea.
Fighting is scary. He also understands his weakness. For him, it was easy to see that if the weak him fights, he will die.
He only needed to nod with a follow-up smile. Because he was unable to do that, he lost the chance to escape.
Putting more pressure on his sphincter, Chrono went outside of the tent.
The threat of a heavy cavalry is their high mobility and rushing power.
A column charge boasts enough power to blow a large demi-human.
“… My name is Chrono! The eldest son of Baron Crawford! I want to challenge a named knight! I desire a single one-on-one combat, it would be a shame if I died by a common soldier!”
After he pulled out his sword, Chrono shouts out those words loudly, then one cavalryman from the enemy step up.
It seems to be the leader, he wears the most luxurious armor among the five horsemen.
The heavy cavalry begins to raise his speed while pointing out his spear.
And by the time the heavy cavalryman reached his maximum speed, his figure vanished.
A short moment later, everyone can hear his head being crushed on the ground.
He fell from his horse because suddenly a rope was being raised as high as his neck.
They lost their colleague due to a trap, the remaining horsemen rush out.
Slipped through the rope.
With Chrono signal, tree stakes pierced the enemy.
The mobility and rushing power of heavy cavalry might be high, but since we know that they were going to straight, it was easy to deal with them.
“Fuuh”. After wiping the cold sweat he returned to the side of his adjutant.
“… Don’t you have any pride in a noble?”
“If I can win with it, then I will fight with that pride. Ah, please leave their corpse as it is…”
He swallowed back nausea feeling that creep up, Chrono then gazes at his enemies.
Although his gaze seems to reproach something, a light appears within that gaze.
It was after a while Chrono killed the cavalries that the enemy main troops arrived.
The Argo Kingdom had moved first.
They were wondering how the five cavalries died at the stake.
A commander with a crimson tuft on his helmet who lead the infantry come forward.
Archers shoot arrows through the fence, but as the enemy’s commander expected the range, the advancing infantry began a melee combat.
Angry voices resounded throughout the battlefield, high cloud of dust due to the movement of all troops, and the smell of stinking blood and iron.
“Push them back!” (Bumo~!)
‘Ooh!’ And the subordinates responded.
A dwarf pierce an infantry tried to climb the fence, and a minotaur knocked down the enemy infantries who tried to pass the fence via the gap.
If this was a battle between demi-humans, the development would be different, but Argo Kingdom soldiers are all human… They are common soldiers with a minimum training.
For now, Chrono was doing well.
Due to the heavy dark forest, they come straight toward the fence.
And because the battle was done in close quarter combat, the bowmen and magician cannot perform their support.
“Detour around the fence! Attack the enemy from the rear!”
The enemy commanders scream while feeling frustrated, but the Argo Kingdom soldiers were only exchanged a glance.
“Take a detour around the fence!”
Several people then make up their mind and entered the forest.
While pushing deep into the forest through the high bush, suddenly they disappeared.
The next moment, high pitched scream resounded from within the forest.
The bush shakes violently and blood sprayed toward all direction.
Eventually, a human head popped out from the forest.
“T-There’s something in there!”
A soldier is trying to escape from the forest, but he was dragged into the bush.
Again, screams echoed.
“It’s an ambush! Calm down!”
When the seed broke, panic cannot be avoided… Seeing the situation, Chrono lifted the edge of his mouth.
And panic always spread around.
The moment Argo Kingdom soldiers are about to flow back.
“O crimson god who governs the destruction!”
*Boom!* Flame explosions are raised above the head of the Argo Kingdom’s soldiers.
The flames disappeared in an instant, but it was enough to stop the soldiers who got into a panic.
Divine Art… It was a technique manifested from the power of the Gods who control Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Darkness, and Light.
Only the power of the God one’s believes that can be used, not to mention there’s also demerits such as the possibility of being crippled if one uses it excessively, although it can be used without even knowing the full theory behind the art… Just like someone who does not understand medicine still can heal small scars… Thus there’s merit on it as well.
“Calm down, we have the overwhelming force!”
The instruction from their commanding officer immediately calmed them.
‘OOOOOH!’ All of Argo Kingdom’s soldiers responded with a high roar.
Seeing that, Chrono clicked his tongue.
The enemy commanders managed to pull out from Chrono traps.
And their soldiers regained their calmness.
But, their soldiers’ skills are not that high, thus it does not mean they become very strong just by being calm.
This battle turns into a war of attrition.
Soldiers begin to climb the fence, and the demi-humans prevent them by piercing them with spears.
Using a huge hammer minotaur and lizard men smash up the foot soldiers who tried to sneak in via the gap.
Such a scene can be seen being repeated.
Little by little fatigue accumulates, and little by little the wound on the soldiers’ increases.
Some of the enemies managed to evade the protruding spear and countered.
Some managed to slip from the gap when the minotaur lost his balance.
Although the beast men boast a stronger body, they also cannot avoid getting wounded.
And receiving a lot of wounds, one of the lizard man collapsed.
“I understand! Close the hole as soon as possible!”
His adjutant immediately fills the hole that is being created due to the lizard man collapsed, but one of the Agro Kingdom’s soldiers managed to slip.
He was aiming at Chrono.
Chrono tried to pull his sword the moment he heard his adjutant voice, but the enemy sword was faster than he was.
An intense shock shakes his brain, and nausea comes creeping up from within his stomach.
Within the human body, the skull boasts a considerable strength.
Unless Magic art or Divine art is being used in combination, it is impossible to split someone from their head to their lower body.
Still, the soldier’s sword managed to rob him half of his sight… It was Chrono right eye.
Gritted his teeth, Chrono swallowed his scream.
If a commander scream here, it would make the situation grew worse.
“…Kagura Dance of Tensu!” <TLN: Bloody hell, this skill name has no particular meaning, but the Tensu is using kanji of Heavenly and Door… So, Kagura dance of heavenly door?>
By the caster invocation, a magic art that has been imprinted into one’s brain can be released. Above Chrono’s head, a jet black ball appears.
Magic art is something that a living being obtain the moment they are born… Combining the magic power and each individual attribute, one can create a physical phenomenon to appear.
One can use drugs to learn and imprint magic art into one’s subconscious, but to use the art effectively, proficiency becomes necessary.
Also, the number of times someone can use and learn magic art depends on their individual talent, and cannot be overruled intentionally.
When Chrono swung down his right hand, the black spheres enveloped the head of the unknown soldier.
“… Area designation, forced transfer!”
In accordance with Chrono instruction, the black sphere disappeared along with the unknown soldier head.
There was neither sound nor light, the jet black ball transferred the unknown soldier’s head into another space.
The heart of the unknown soldier is still moving.
Blood gushes out from the unknown soldier’s neck like a fountain, dyes Chrono’s face red.
Fire pillars come out from beyond the forest, and the enemy’s soldiers movement stopped.
“Kagura Dance of Tensu!”
Chrono then launched his magic art toward the enemy’s commander who’s stop moving.
The jet-black ball slipped between Chrono’s men and the enemy’s soldiers then wrapped around the enemy commander’s right arm.
“Area designation, forced transfer!”
The area where the black sphere wrapped disappeared, just like how the unknown soldiers died.
The commander who lost his right arm fell down from his horse with blood gushes out from the section where his arm disappeared.
However, the commander’s eyes keep on staring at the fire pillar.
… After a brief hesitation.
“O crimson god who governs the destruction!”
The commander burns the part where blood come out and make the blood stop flowing.
“Change of plans! Protect his highness!”
That was the impetus.
A soldier, when given a reason to escape is weak.
In addition, for Agro Kingdom’s soldiers, there’s no reason for them to fight while betting their lives.
The Agro Kingdom’s army formation collapsed.
“General, are you alright?” (Fumo~)
“Yes, other than my right eye that has become useless.”
Chrono sat down on a wooden box and scratched his hair in frustration.
Although medical herb with analgesic effect reduced the pain, the shock of losing his right eye is great.
“Many have died huh… There are also many who got injured.”
Chrono gritted his teeth to endure the nausea and the pain.
More than 100 people have died, and many are injured.
He never thought that all of his subordinates are going to survive, but his assumption is still different from the reality.
With his order, he caused more than 100 people to die, and he himself is also wounded.
The strategy Chrono has thought is simple.
700 of his soldiers halt the enemy here, and the remaining 300 comprising of elves who are good with magic art raided the enemy’s main headquarter.
Chrono won the bet.
However, he could not abandon the hope.
That all of his subordinates are going to survive.
If the elves are managed to perform well, he thought nobody is going to die.
Right, all of this happens because the elves are indecisive.
Right, it’s not my problem.
Not my problem!
After a while, he linked his ideal as a self-defense, trying to make it as a fact.
“General, the detached force has returned.”
Raising his head after hearing his adjutant’s words, Chrono lost the cause of his self-defense.
There are no more than 50 come back.
All of their bodies are covered with wound and blood.
“P-Please forgive us…”
An elf woman kneeled at Chrono’s feet as if she had fallen down.
Her age is around 20 years old.
She has sharp eyes and the owner of a stylish bodyline.
Dissolved short silver hair, brown skin painted with blood and mud, reminded us the fierce battle she had just gone through.
“The enemy resistance at their stronghold is strong…”
“… I-I see.”
From the beginning, I sent them as a suicidal corps.
It is me.
I made the strategy, and I sent them to their death.
Chrono approached the brown skin elf and kneeled there.
I’m the one to blame.
But how shameless of me.
“… I’m sorry.”
Chrono grabbed her blood clad hands and muttered those words with trembling voice.
‘I’m sorry’… Chrono repeatedly said those words with tears.
It was the evening of the next day that Tyria came running with reinforcement.
She comes just like a goddess of salvation while wearing silver armors.
Tyria got off the horse, then ordered the transportation for those who are injured, and also the construction of the encampment.
Allied soldiers began to move around in hurry, while Chrono breathed a sigh of relief.
Despite their success driving away the Argo Kingdom troops, Chrono and the others are dead tired.
They would have been destroyed had an attack happen, no matter how small it is.
“… Well, I guess that’s how it happens?”
After hearing Chrono’s report, Tyria rest her chin on her hand while feeling astonished.
Only Chrono and Tyria present inside the tent.
Although it is a bit careless, this also shows how much she trusts him.
“It seems like you have gone through a huge misfortune huh…”
Tyria said those words while trying her best to choose the proper words slowly.
Chrono closes his eyes slowly and thought about his dead subordinates.
He was mourning for his death subordinates, he also thought about the hatred toward Marquis Erakis who abandoned him, and also contemplating his own cowardice.
“… I guess you’re right.”
Chrono thinks about all the emotion and replied to her.
“The current situation, what do you think?”
“I guess, all of this happens because of the succession struggle at the Argo Kingdom.”
Chrono answered together with a deep sigh.
The His Highness that the enemy commander screamed about is the clue.
The King of Argo Kingdom is already old. The successor to the throne has already been decided, but there are many royalties and the surrounding people who do not like it.
That’s why the first prince of Argo Kingdom tried to make a great achievement to silence those voice.
And winning the war against us is an easy-to-understand achievement.
Of course, that is if they won.
“For a little while, Argo Kingdom won’t be attacking us anymore. The prince who lost 10,000 soldiers would surely find his power declined. If their national strength declines due to internal affairs, it is something that is worth celebrating for us.”
Tyria, breathe out while feeling admiration for him.
“However, we should set aside that matter.”
“I guess so…”
Tyria examines the parchment in front of her and finally added her signature to it.
“Is this fine?”
“Yes, thank you very much.”
Chrono took the parchment from Tyria and smiled.
“You don’t have to trouble yourself with those things you know?
“This is important to me…”
Chrono shrugged his shoulders and said those words toward Tyria with a slightly depressed expression.
Treat the injured demi-humans the same way as the humans, that is what stated on the parchment.
And of course, there’s also Tyria signature on it.
It is something to be ashamed, to borrow a tiger authority, but one cannot be relieved unless one does this much.
“Well then, Let’s go.”.
Coming out of the tent, Chrono vacantly gazes up toward the sky
“… It has been three years huh…”
Chrono… Kurono Hisamitsu deeply sighed while looking at the dark sky.
Three years ago, he suddenly felt like he was being surrounded by a floating feeling and before he noticed, he was already in another world… He was standing there in the middle of a rice field.
Coincidentally, he helped an old nobleman… The person who he was helping is Baron Crawford, he has no heir to succeed his house, thus he decided to adobt Chrono.
“… Without cheat power, the only things I have is the status as the child of a nobleman and knowledge that I do not know if it would become useful…”
Whether or not he can regard being a noble as a cheat, he thanked his good fortune.
If he had not met with the old baron, he might be sold as a slave or being killed by bandits.
It is probably his biggest fortune to have been adopted as an adopted child and have the opportunity to learn this world language.
“But still, I wonder if there’s other things I can do?”
Chrono muttered those words with small voice while gazing at the sky.