38.1 The Assault on a Fortress by the Aberrant Overlord, and the Operation to Purge the Frontier Territory
──A few days later, at the fortress of the 『Cult of Awakening Contentment』──
[Tell the peasant soldiers! 『You no longer have a place to return to anymore! Serve as our soldiers who will guard this fortress so that our enlightened realm1 may be realized!!』]
The man, a leader of the cult, raises a sword and shouts. The people in the fortress raise their hands and respond to his voice.
The time is just after dawn. A daily morning rite is being performed at that fortress.
[Now, hurry and wake the peasant soldiers on the ground! It’s about time for Doushi『Glia Treasure』-sama’s training to begin! Delays will merit death!]
One subordinate, having heard their leader, breaks into a run.
The leader smiles in satisfaction at the sight while patting the giant dragonfly on his shoulder.
[Still…… could the rumor that Doushi 『Glia Piller』-sama was defeated really be true?]
A response from the unit that attacked the nearby village in the frontier still has yet to come.
The main force of the 『cult』 is on march for the decisive battle against 『Governor Kittle』. They can’t afford to spend soldiers for a rescue. The best they can do is to hold the fortress.
[Though, surely no enemy will be able to climb this far up.]
The fortress had been built on the summit of a steep rocky mountain and had but one path leading up it. A fence was built and numerous guards had been posted there as well. Even if the army comes, its soldiers will not be able to simply take the fortress.
Between the human domain and the frontier where the ajin and the mamono live stands a number of rocky mountains. Yet not only are the central region and the frontier divided by said rocky mountains, fortresses that had fallen into disuse dotted the area. There were five of them in total.
They came to the attention of the cult, and they decided to make use of them. As they are small, only a couple tens of people can barricade themselves inside them. Even so, that is just right for reminding the grunts of the difference in their positions.
Down on the ground, they had watchtowers and barracks built. The grunts had been crammed in there. Direct subordinates are posted as sentries. The lowly peasant soldiers will frantically fight for their lives. They, the leaders, would be the last to fight. It was perfect.
[Our role is to secure provisions. In addition to that, to take the army from behind in an emergency. Until that time comes, we have to keep those peasant soldiers usable.]
The soldier who had gone to relay the message returned and knelt before the leader.
[The people down below are raising a commotion. They seem to have received information that a force separate from Alicia’s established military has mobilized to attack this fortress……]
[Yes. Unbeknownst to us, a cloth with these words written on it was passed around, 『The cult will soon be destroyed. Run.』]
[Some subordinate of 『Governor Kittle』’s in the southwest is probably responsible. How underhanded.]
[Still, we can’t just ignore this.]
[Honestly…… It’s annoying how easily those guppies get riled up.]
The leader laughs.
As if to respond to his voice, the dragonfly on his shoulder, gigigi, sneers.
A centipede clad with a black husk crawls at his feet. As a mamono, it has a hard husk, one difficult for swords and arrows to pierce. It’s more loyal than any human, and a more useful fighting asset.
[Here with us is Doushi 『Glia Treasure』-sama. The standing army of this rotten country is not worth fearing.]
[However the peasant soldiers were forced to come here…… and all of them want to return to their villages. I’m not sure if they’ll be able to maintain their morale once a battle eventually comes.]
[If we show them some results, surely their apprehension will disappear.]
As if to blow his subordinate’s apprehension away, the leader spreads his arms and raises his voice.
[Only one path leads up to this fortress. If an emergency arises, we can block it off and fortify ourselves here. The provisions we’ve plundered from the villages are sufficient. Then we can rain arrows, fire, and rocks on them from above. What is there to fear?!]
[Tha, that’s certainly true.]
[Well, I can understand why those of lesser faith might feel apprehensive. Go ahead and send some of our senior soldiers here in the fortress to the barracks below. Also, strengthen the defenses on the ground. That ought to ease that apprehension.]
The soldier serving as a messenger rises and takes off.
The leader looks out the window and sees the messenger heading down the mountain path with several soldiers.
[The Mandate of Heaven is upon us!]
The leader looks towards the ground and cries out.
[We, the 『Cult of Awakening Contentment』, shall succeed Alicia and usher forth a new dynasty upon this vast land. You are bearing witness to that era’s rise. Hold your names dearer than your lives! To this eternal and everlasting dynasty, your names are present to its onset! FUHA, FUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA!!]
[Anoo. Sorry to interrupt your excitement, but may we have a bit of your time?]
There is a voice.
It came from behind the leader and his followers.
They turned around and see a group standing there with blue cloths wrapped around their faces. No matter how they are seen, there is no doubt they’re suspicious.
[We’ve been observing you for a while, but this fort doesn’t seem to have 10 people it. Hence, I thought, ‘Well, now is probably good.’]
At what point did they appear?
The group that had appeared on the fortress’ lookout── a veranda overhanging the west side── had been quietly watching him, the cult leader.
He couldn’t make out their faces. Also, perhaps it was due to the faint light of dawn, but even their figures were blurry.
[This information came from the soldiers who attacked the village. The location of your forts, the strength of your army, and the daily schedule of your cult. So, we came to give you a visit before dawn.]
A man covering his face with a blue cloth gives an indifferent mutter.
[As such, I have a request. I heard this place is an old fort from the era of the Dragon Emperor, so would you mind letting us look around?]
[WH, WH, WH, WH, WH, WHO THE HELL ARE YOOOOOOU?!]
[That’s not something you have to worry about that.]
The man at their forefront said such as if to admonish the leader.
[We’re only here to examine this establishment. Of course, we’ll wreck you if you resist us, though.]
[We’re on the summit of a rocky mountain! How did you get in here?!]
The man with the covered face points at his back. Pure white wings are sprouting from it.
The leader’s eyes inadvertently spread open. He knows that there are ajin who can fly in the sky. However, those ajin have wings as their arms. He knows not of any ajin with wings growing on their backs.
Also, who are the young girls behind him? They carry a sword and a konbou respectively. Behind them lay defeated soldiers. Even if they had entered unnoticed from the sky…… that they could knock out the soldiers before they could make a sound…… should be impossible.
[You…… who the hell are you people?!]
The cult leader shouts.
[A passing Overlord and,] [His sworn imouto!]
The girls cry out from behind the man.
[In order to take down the cult that is raiding the villages,] [Also, for the sake of Aniue-sama’s stable life.]
[[In the name of the Aberrant Overlord, we have come to capture this fortress!!]]
[DON’T SCREW WITH MEEEEEE!!]
The leader swings his sword and shouts.
[Overlord, you say?! Don’t screw with me! There’s no way a king would pass through here! Don’t you take me for a fool!!]
[See, we got scolded.]
The man sighs and glances towards the 2 girls.
[That’s why, I’m pretty sure I said, ‘let’s stop announcing ourselves like that’?]
[But, but, Nii-sama!] [To brag about their Aniue-sama is a sworn imouto’s instinct!]
[Then, think up a better introduction at home.]
[I SAID, DON’T SCREW WITH ME!! COME, MY INSECTS!!]
The leader swings his arm. In response to that call, insect-shaped mamono gather from the surroundings, dragonflies with wings larger than people who have spread wide both of their arms and large centipedes with husks that are harder than armor. They are the trump cards he had received from the Doushi.
Most of the soldiers in the fortress have been sent to the ground. The fences that they had built along the mountain path are working against them. They don’t allow for a large number of soldiers to pass through at once.
In addition, not only is that fortress a provisions storage for emergencies, it’s also a facility meant for training peasant soldiers into members of the cult. The few soldiers there have low combat capabilities.
However, that isn’t a problem. There are only 3 enemies. Furthermore, he has the insect mamono that the Daidoushi entrusted to him.
[You shall regret looking down on us, the 『Cult of Awakening Contentment』.]
[Black magic, is it……?]
The man with the blue face covering sighs.
[I heard that when black magic is used, the distortions of the world spread and the number of mamono increases. Will you stop?]
[Shut up! Devour his head!!]
The large dragonflies head off to attack the enemy first. While they have the shape of dragonflies, they are mamono. Their heads alone are larger than a person’s torso, and their jaws can crush a head.
[Let’s see what kind of expressions your faces will make after your heads are crushed! GO!!]
[Lizette shall burn them down! 『Claire Flare』!!]
From behind the bandana-clad man, the silver-haired girl swings her arms. Then, from her fingertips, blue flames are born──
Those flames spread to the wings of the dragonflies.
[Ma, magic?! There’s a spellcaster in the military of the rotten Alicia?!]
[Ah, we’re actually not soldiers of the country.] (Shouma)
[Aniue-sama, may I finish off the dragonflies?] (Haruka)
[Please do. I’ve already enchanted them, after all.]
[Alright. Then, ei!]
The red-haired girl swings down her konbou and crushes a dragonfly’s head.
[With a wooden konbou?! How?!]
[CA, CAPTAAAAAAAAIN!] [WHAT’S WITH THESE PEOPLE!? WHAT SHOULD WE DO?!!]
The soldiers on the leader’s right and left begin to tremble.
“Damn useless bunch!”── the cult leader spits out.
Whether they raid a village or they fight the soldiers of the feudal lords, it’s always the insects he controls that stand at the forefront. The soldiers cry out from behind them and then charge. This is the first time their base is being attacked.
Moreover, at that place, there are only two people apart from the leader himself. As for those 2, they are already preparing to flee.
[Just blow the whistle already! Blow as hard as you can!]
The leader shouts.
[Do that and the peasant soldiers down below will come! If we show those unmotivated peasant soldiers the sight of these people being devoured by the insects, it’ll serve as a lesson for them!!]
Of the insects, 6 of the long ones with black husks still remain. Those are his favorite.