… Capital of the Bahnseim Kingdom, Centralle.
In the audience room of the royal palace, Celes sat on the newly-prepared throne, leisurely kicking her legs as she blissfully relaxed. Beyond the lines of armored authorities, the large door at the front opened, and a messenger raced in.
“Message! The enemy forces surround Centralle. Their numbers are estimated at six hundred thousand!”
Hearing that, those of the Bahnseim Royal line beside Celes were shook up. The others simply listened to the report expressionlessly.
Celes’ mouth warped on the report and she smiled. To her, her husband Rufus spoke anxiously.
“H-hey, Celes. Will we be alright? While we’ve concentrated our troops in Centralle, with the attacks happening across the lands, we haven’t even been able to gather two hundred thousand. I-if we’re to lose, then…”
There, Celes stood. She turned her face to Rufus.
“Lose? Me? That’s impossible. That’s definitely impossible. I mean, everything up to now has gone just as I expected. No matter how sly an army of the living tries to be, they cannot win against dead men. And our troops don’t only number two hundred thousand.”
Rufus tilted his head a bit.
“No, Celes… there are only two hundred thousand soldiers in Centralle.”
Celes smiled as she spoke to Rufus.
“Every single one of the over-a-million citizens of this city are my troops. They’ll all fight for me. I mean, life and death no longer matters.”
As Rufus failed to grasp the gist, Celes laughed to herself. And she transported herself straight from the audience chamber. Her guard, the butler Burt in his tailcoat. Rummel whose long black hair dragged along the ground… taking along her favorites, she headed for the balcony.
And what Rufus saw as he followed along had gone beyond his imagination.
Those that filled the plaza were, without a doubt, soldiers. But it wasn’t as if the capital consisted of nothing but able men. There were old men and women only natural for a city to have, and yet those that covered the plaza were nothing but soldiers.
“From the elderly to babies… everyone offers their lives to me. That’s why every single civilian in Centralle became a soldier.”
Rufus took a step back in surprise, his back running into something.
“M-Maizel-dono… no, father-in-law, even mother-in-law.”
Maizel and Claire appeared on the Balcony in their full armor. Their empty eyes didn’t take in someone like Rufus at all.
“Celes, so this is where you were? The supreme commander should be properly preparing.
“That’s right, Celes. Quickly come inside. No matter what happens, the two of us will protect you.”
On her parents’ words, Celes turned and send a smile. The skirt of her white dress spread out, swaying in a similar fashion to her golden hair.
“Got~ it. But when the battle reaches such a scale, I can’t help but be excited.”
Seeing Celes’ innocent smile, Maizel gave a warm smile himself.
“As expected of a daughter of the Walt House. In your veins flows the blood of a feudal noble.”
Claire touched a hand to her face as she tilted her head.
“Though I was hoping she’d turn out a bit more graceful. Well, even like this you’re still cute, so you’re fine as you are, Celes.”
The two by her side, a delighted Celes returned to the royal palace. Watching her form from behind, Rufus…
“Ah, how reliable you are, Celes.”
His face flushed, he followed faithfully behind…
“Affix the mobile fortress! Direct the cannons at the gate! Centralle’s wall isn’t going to crumble so easily. Concentrate fire on one point!”
The moving fortress slowly advanced, and once it stopped, it lowered its base with a thunk, driving stakes into the ground.
Under the cloudy sky, the fortress stood boldly before the gate of Centralle.
From the room where decisions were made, Vera issued one order after the next.
“Just because we’ve stopped, don’t let the flame of the motion hearth die down! Tell the workshop that there’s no telling when we’ll move, so they should brace themselves for it.”
As I was taking a sidelong glance at Vera sitting in her seat and barking out orders, General Blois called over to me.
“Now then, I’m going somewhere it’s easier to take command from as well. Lyle-dono, properly call out to me when the attack begins.”
I nodded and gave a light raise of my right hand to respond before looking straight ahead.
“Now then, how will our opponent move on the first day?”
It was a large-scale battle.
Will they suddenly reveal their hand to take us by surprise…
Monica nearby conveyed a report.
“Human forms have been confirmed atop the castle ramparts. But they are not showing any reaction from your Skill. They are already dead.”
There was a flag hoisted on the ramparts, and beyond it they were preparing to intercept. I put a hand to my mouth at this quiet beginning.
“… How are our siege weapon preparations?”
Monica responded at once.
“Preparations are at around seventy percent. But there are some differences in performance among the members of this alliance. There are many armies who have yet to prepare, it seems.”
It’s only natural they’d never experienced a battle of this scale, but the usual level was only on a scale of hundreds. At most, there were countries who’d experienced wars of thousands. I’m sure they were shrinking back.
“Have them hurry up. In the worst case, they can just work on making their stockades as thoughtfully as possible.”
From fighting the armies dispatched from Centralle, I could tell the sort of battle Celes favored. Perhaps from Septem’s… Agrissa’s influence, she preferred battles that inflicted massive casualties on both sides.
She conducted battles that didn’t consider expenditure from the start.
“… Looks like they’re coming out already.”
Once the stones thrown by siege weapons and bursts of magic hit, flashy explosions burst forth. While it was a normal beginning, our enemy was so quiet it created an ominous air.
Monica watched the flying magic bolts explode, obstructed by the ramparts as she opened her mouth.
“They’re opening the front gate.”
… Lyle’s main camp.
Blois saw the enemy opening the main gate and issued orders around. Around, through the exchanges of magic, the knights and magicians were quite occupied.
“They’re firing without paying mind to ally damage. If you cut off your emotions, these dead men really are a convenient force to use. Well, I’d never want one in my ranks… if they’re only charging straight ahead without thinking of anything else, we have ways to deal with them.”
After hurrying the messengers to deliver his orders, Blois looked at the enemy lauching their attack without paying heed to the magic flying back and forth.
They were even raising a war cry, but it was a sight more ominous than anything.
“… An army of the dead. Can’t laugh at that.”
The enemy heading straight for Lyle’s main camp… ignored the magic coming at them from friend and foe as they attacked.
Head-on, and while putting out casualties from the battery fired from behind them, they continued on without a single look back.
General Blois covered his face with his right hand.
“It’s true we’re nowhere near them in terms of perseverance. But if they’re just going to charge like that, they fall short of a simple army of monsters.”
There, Lyle’s army showed a movement. It made a large split left and right, inviting the attacking force into its midst.
The siege weapons stationed in the back began loading barrels of gunpowder to fire. It was one of the plans Lyle had used when he fought the monster army.
“If they fought like humans, perhaps we would be harder pressed.”
As General Blois said that, the cavalry approaching before his eyes fell one after the next by trap, they dragged their allies behind them into their fall. But the line before that one tread over their fallen allies to continue their advance.
It truly was identical to the charge of a monster army.
“The person who thought this one up has a terrible personality. Oil from below, and gunpowder raining from the sky… on top of that, catching them in a crossfire.”
The one who thought it up was Lyle, but the details were largely finalized with Miranda’s proposals.
As the attacks crumbled the enemy vanguard, the units that split left and right began their attacks with their bows and guns.
But looking behind the enemy charge, General Blois let out a sigh.
“… If you called their soldier supply unlimited, I may end up believing it.”
Watching the enemies continue to stream out, he had his allies slowly take distance as they continued on with their strategies…
… Baldoir Randbergh led a gun-equipped unit protected by a deployment of stockades.
Gunpowder wasn’t a problem. Their guns were well maintained. They had enough firearms assembled.
“Fire! Don’t show any mercy!”
While taking their bullets, with their torsos pierced through armor and all, the enemy soldiers who wouldn’t stop their advance.
The way their blood flowed was peculiar as well. It looked almost as if they weren’t alive.
The unit nearby Baldoir’s consisted of elves led by Eva. They held up their bows, and aimed their blast arrows… exploding arrows towards the sky.
Mountains of arrows came flying, raining down on the enemy unit and exploding… igniting the oil, enveloping the enemy in a sea of flames.
Their bodies pierced by arrows, there were numerous enemies who had half their bodies blown away entirely. And yet their advance didn’t stop.
Even with their lower bodies blown off, the figures of enemy soldiers pulling themselves through the sea of flames with their arms alone could be seen.
The soldiers were flustered.
“What is this. What the hell is that!?”
“… You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“Leaping into the fire of their own accord…”
The enemy soldiers who leapt straight into the flaming sea couldn’t be thought of as sane any longer.
Baldoir wrung out his voice.
“Don’t falter! This is the form of our enemy! That’s precisely why we must fight! Don’t let the enemy proceed any further!”
They were no longer merely charmed by Celes. It could no longer be called a charm, they were being controlled. At Celes who controlled the dead like her dolls, Baldoir felt fear.
(… If we don’t fight her here, it truly will become something terrible.)
While reaffirming Celes’ abnormality, Baldoir issued orders to his men…
… In the palace, Celes sat on the throne as she received the reports.
“Celes-sama, the fifty thousand soldiers that attacked were repelled altogether. They have been thoroughly annihilated.”
The expressionless lines of authorities merely kept that very same position from dawn to dusk. They were truly dolls.
“Is that so? That’s harsh, I lost fifty thousand on the first day. But that still doesn’t shake our numerical advantage.”
From Celes’ point of view, the lives of solders were lower than trash. That they revered her just put them a little higher than the other trash.
There, Maizel stuck in his mouth.
“Celes, it does seem that thing has made preparations to fight you. You could keep clashing troops to deplete his numbers, but then again, it is a disgrace for you to follow his anticipations.”
On Maizel’s explanation, Claire continued on.
“That’s right. Even if his main force is prepared, what of the others? Even if you say they have over six hundred thousand, how many among them seriously intend to fight us…”
Celes heard out their opinions with a smile.
“That’s right! Then tomorrow, I’ll ignore that damn insect and challenge the others to battle. Even so, the surrounding feudal lords sure are worthless. Since we’re fighting here, they just have to launch an attack from behind. Could it be… they turned coat?”
Even feeling their betrayal, Celes smiled. And.
“They don’t care what becomes of the hostages they entrusted to us? Shall we set an example and string a few up on the ramparts?”
The one who answered Celes’ laughing voice was Burt. Expressionlessly.
Her good mood hindered, Celes glared at Burt. But Burt merely continued on
“There are no hostages you’ve left alive. They’ve all either been killed and made material for soldiers, or…”
At the end of his sights were the monsters keeping docile behind the lined up authorities. While there were a few failures among them, even the successes looked creepy.
Celes hit her hands together.
“Oh, that’s right… I used them for experiments. Hah, preparing corpses at this point and doing this and that would be a pain. Well, once we’re done cleaning up this damn bastard, perhaps I should go off and kill them to kill some time.”
With a smile, Celes left the feudal lords aside for the time being, deciding to concentrate on the enemy before her eyes. Lyle had considered attacks from behind, so there was meaning to him going around suppressing the area and freeing them from Celes’ charm.
To Celes, it was unpleasant that no one was threatening Lyle’s back lines. But unpleasant was all it was.
Of all else.
“Hey, you said there were mercenaries who came over to our side, right?”
Burt gave a tidy bow.
“Yes. It seems the alliance wouldn’t hire them, so they flowed over to us.”
Celes twisted her mouth into a grin, so Claire standing to her side cautioned her. As she stuck out her tongue and offered a cute apology, Claire let out a sigh and permitted her actions.
“… I made her mad. But that means we have ingredients, right? Let’s kill them and make them ingredients for new soldiers. How many people do we have?”
Burt was about to tell her the precise numbers.
“Of those that gathered, the numbers capable of battle are…”
“Wrong. I asked you how many we gathered and nothing more. Women, children, it doesn’t matter. I’ll equally grant them all the glory of becoming my soldiers.”
Burt gave a, ‘My apologies’ and went on.
“In this battle that has gathered much attention within Bahnseim, nay, within the continent, a number exceeding fifty thousand have gathered. Those supporting the mercenaries from behind… I haven’t confirmed their logistic support, but I estimate those are the numbers.”
Celes held up her staff and stood.
“Then isn’t that fine? It’s plenty to stand in from what we lost today. The more we fight, the more ingredients for soldiers I’ll get, so that damn trash need only wallow in his despair.”
No matter how many times she repeated a pointless and futile offensive, to Celes it was always a loss she could get back on her path to victory.
“Now let us enjoy this battle. I want to soon see his face twist in lost hope.”
As Celes’ laughing voice resounded through the audience chamber, the authorities who hadn’t moved at all to that point began chanting praise of her. As if they were repeating a set action that had been decided from the start…
… Agrissa in the Yellow Jewel watched Celes Laugh.
Sitting on the Jewel’s throne, folding her legs, she happily watched over the girl.
“Adorable Celes, Fight to the death all you want with my beloved Lyle. I’ll dote on whoever remains alive. Of course, if I had to say, Lyle’s more to my tastes.”
As she gave a fascinating Laugh, Agrissa enjoyed watching Celes with her guard so low.
And she adored Lyle who challenged Celes as well.
“Lyle, it will be quite a sight to see if you can defeat Celes. Even if you have Novem behind you… it won’t be so easy to take down my protegee. But the moment you surmount her is the moment your existence becomes worthy of my love. I can’t wait to see.”
As Agrissa said that and smiled, she heard Celes laugh, and laughed herself.