TNG Vol. 17 Chapter 1 Part 5

 

After it was decided they would cooperate with Kilmont, Shibaid became extremely talkative.

He would participate in the emergency efforts as an adventurer: Shin and the others would also be dispatched as high-class adventurers.

Not even the monsters over level 500 Zaikuin mentioned could pose a threat to Shin’s party. If they fought on the same level and each did a similar share, Shin didn’t risk standing out too much. Depending on the circumstances, Tiera might end up standing out more, since she fought with a divine beast as her partner.

“With Shibaid and Schnee fighting together, I bet most people will focus on them.”

Two of the most famous warriors on the continent were fighting side by side: they would obviously attract a lot of attention.

Since standing out was one of their goals this time, Shibaid and Schnee would fight without disguises.

The other party members would surely attract attention too, just not to the same degree, or so Shin predicted.

“So now the leaders have gathered to exchange information…”

Shin and the others moved to a large conference room, to be introduced to the empire’s leading figures aside from Zaikuin and Shimaia and decide their upcoming strategy.

Looking at the imperial officials, generals, officers, and other major members, Shin muttered something under his breath.

“(So…why are you here?)”

“(Hmm, maybe because I’m the strongest in the church’s reinforcements, right?)”

“(Why are you asking me…)”

It would be suspicious to mumble by himself, so Shin switched to player chat.

The person he talked to was a short girl with unusually large eyes, Milt.

She had been manipulated by demons and forced to do their bidding. After Shin brought her back to her senses, she assisted the church in order to make amends for kidnapping the Holy Woman.

As part of such efforts, she joined the reinforcements sent by the church to Kilmont.

They talked via chat, but Milt smiled and waved at Shin.

“(I’m not a follower of the church, but just a collaborator, so it’s not like I’m in charge of their troops, though. I was told that I should join in this briefing because I’m their greatest asset in battle, you see.)”

Milt looked upwards as she continued talking via Mind Chat.

Her gaze pointed at a man clad in the armor reserved for church knights and a woman wearing monastery robes. They were talking with a Kilmont officer, so they were probably commander and vice commander of the church reinforcements.

The man introduced himself as Reiner, the woman Lourie.

“(I didn’t expect to see you here though, Shin. Is there a demon behind this flood?)”

Demons were involved in the event that led to Milt and Shin’s reunion, so she thought they might be this time too.

“(We came to Kilmont for another reason, we just heard about this crisis. I have no idea what caused the flood either.)”

“(Oh really. Can I ask about this other reason?)”

“(You know about it already, Milt. I contacted you a couple of days ago, right? About the player transforming into a monster.)”

On the way to Kilmont, Shin had contacted everyone he could about the events that transpired in Passner.

“(Oh, that. I was surprised, but there’s nothing I can do about it myself. There are few people who use the possession statuses to attack, so protecting myself with the item you sent is pretty much all I can do…)”

Shin had sent an item that neutralized the possession status with the message card, for added safety. It was a necklace, so it wasn’t visible, but Milt probably equipped it already.

“(Aside from that, did you talk directly with the emperor? Don’t tell me you sneaked in…wait, Schnee’s with you, so it’s possible…)”

“(I’m not sneaking in anywhere, with or without Schnee! Shibaid is the former emperor, so we got in thanks to his connections.)”

Milt was apparently unaware that Shibaid was the former Dragon Emperor, so she was very surprised.

“(I see. I didn’t know much about the empire, now that I think about it…)”

“(What have you been doing until now? Weren’t you traveling all over the continent?)”

“(I got manipulated once, after all. At first, I was hunting monsters close to where I lived.)”

She had returned to her senses thanks to Shin and helped rescue the kidnapped Holy Woman, so she was probably trusted to an extent.

“Milt, what are you doing?”

“Oh? I saw someone I know, so I just said hi.”

Reiner noticed what Milt was up to and looked at Shin. There was a rather sharp glare in his eyes.

“The war council isn’t over yet. Focus.”

“Yessir!!”

Milt saluted and winked in response.

Shin caught Rainer’s eyes slipping down towards Milt’s ample bosom.

He understood well what Reiner was probably feeling, so he pretended not to notice.

“Shin, please.”

“Oh, sorry.”

Schnee noticed Shin and Milt’s conversation, then urged him to focus again on the meeting. He looked down at the map: the current topic was how to move the armed forces.

The map showed Kilmont on the right and an approximate location of the Sacred Place. The forts and symbols unknown to Shin were marked as well.

“We have received a report that the sixth wave of the flood is currently heading towards fort 11. The 3rd imperial knights division is heading to take down the Stoluz that spawned in the fifth wave. Based on the speed of the sixth wave they are likely to encounter it during the battle or immediately afterward. Even if the level of the monsters is low, to face a horde of them while fighting with a high-level monster would be too risky. Reinforcements have to be sent to all forts, but I wish to prioritize making sure that the 3rd division does not encounter the sixth wave horde of monsters.”

“The closest fort is the 9th, so sending reinforcements there is our only option, I suppose. Should we increase the numbers?”

“Focusing on that fort would increase the burden on the other ones, though. According to the reports, the repairs of the frontline forts are running behind schedule.”

The council was clearly split on the usage of their limited forces.

“…what do you think, Shibaid?”

While the commander in charge of the reinforcements and the Kilmont general were exchanging opinions, Shimaia asked what was on Shibaid’s mind, since he had only been listening quietly.

The people who were discussing so fervently until a moment ago turned suddenly quiet. Everyone wanted to know, apparently.

“I have a general idea of the casualties and damage. I wish to know more details about the enemy. What happened to the monsters from the first to fifth wave?”

The conference room turned deadly silent, in stark contrast with the previous heated discussion. Shibaid’s low, calm voice echoed clearly, and the captain of the first division of the imperial knights rose to reply.

He was a Dragnil with black scales like Shibaid, though they were slightly lighter in color, named Rhubaid.

Like Shimaia, his name was similar to Shibaid’s because of the Kilmont custom to name children after the country’s heroes.

Shin had heard about this from Schnee before.

“We do not have a complete understanding of the monsters that moved to the Falnido area, but all monsters up to the fourth wave should have been exterminated. Some smaller packs of the fifth wave are still scattered, however. We have dealt with the larger packs, but not with all the smaller ones.”

“I have heard there are several high-level monster units too?”

“The 3rd royal knights division is supposed to deal with them. According to our scouts, most high-level monster units are moving independently. A few of them, however, have joined smaller packs. I believe it will be necessary to send more reinforcements, from the forts or here, to eliminate them. We have already sent orders to the 2nd royal knights division not to engage in fighting beyond their capabilities.”

Shibaid was the former emperor, but now he was just an adventurer, so Rhubaid did not use especially polite speech to him. Shibaid did not seem to mind either.

The 3rd royal knights division was apparently scheduled to deal with the monster units acting independently. Even that division, created to eliminate high-level monsters, would have a hard time if said monsters joined packs of lower-level monsters.

“In that case, let us send Shin and Tiera to deal with them.”

“Hm?”

“Eh?”

Shin and Tiera reacted with surprise at being called out all of a sudden.

Shibaid did not use a title to address Tiera because he did not use it with the other members either.

Shibaid normally addressed other support characters with a title, but Schnee and the others were an exception.

“The adventurers with you, I see. Can they handle it?”

“Schnee and I both vouch for them. Think of them as having abilities on our level.”

“…at a time like this, I should be glad to hear that.”

Shibaid’s clear words made Rhubaid’s expression cloud a little.

He probably thought they couldn’t be completely on the same level.

From Rhubaid’s standpoint, however, it meant that there were six people capable of annihilating the entire country, or at the very least bringing it to its knees, so he couldn’t help but feel apprehensive.

Schnee and Shibaid’s character was well known, but the same could not be said for the others.

“A skilled adventurer by the name of Shin…could you be the 『Slashing Hammer』?”

“…yes, well, I have been called that before.”

Shin’s nickname was mentioned by Reiner, the church knight who had reprimanded Milt before.

“So you are the adventurer who became famous after the Balmel flood. But wait…if Sir Shin is the 『Slashing Hammer』, then Lady Tiera is the 『Bow Princess』?”

“Er, I don’t know about that.”

“It’s the name given to the archer who shot arrows of light on the battlefield. I heard she was an elf with unusually black hair. And a party member of the『Slashing Hammer』, if I recall correctly.”

Shin thought that he was definitely talking about Tiera.

He was as famous as Schnee in Balmel, so it was not strange for him to receive a nickname. He honestly wondered why only his 『Slashing Hammer』title had gotten so popular, though.

He did not think that Tiera had received a nickname matching her 『Bow Princess』 gear set, though.

She had not used that equipment in Balmel, so the nickname probably came from the fact that she was a beautiful bow user.

“I have heard of your exploits as well. This flood has already reached levels close to the one in Balmel. If you have fought successfully then, we can expect great things from both of you.”

“Naturally.”

Rhubaid’s words were answered not by Shin, but by a vigorously nodding Shibaid.

Shin considered the Balmel events to be in the far past already, but maybe because information spread slowly, or maybe because they were adventurers, many of the people present were surprised by Rhubaid and Reiner’s words.

“If you allow me a proposal, could Sir Shin and Lady Tiera accompany us? Our church reinforcements are set to head to the 9th fort. If necessary, we will join with the 3rd royal knights division. As our destination is the same, I do not believe it necessary to move separately.”

Reiner waited for a lull in the conversation to make this proposal. Shin intended to move independently, so Reiner’s words took him by surprise.

“As long as the schedule we decided on is respected, we have no objections. What do you say, Sir Shin? We have been informed that Sir Shibaid and his companions are allowed to move independently.”

Rhubaid then turned towards the back of the conference room, where the emperor was seated.

He meant to implicitly ask Zaikuin for his confirmation, and the latter nodded. All final decisions about the movements of the imperial army lay with the Dragon Emperor.

In the case of Shin’s party, it was definitely more effective for them to move freely than to join other divisions.

“We will go ahead by ourselves if urgent reinforcements are needed, but unless such circumstances happen I have no issue accompanying you. What do you think, Tiera?”

“Yes, I have no objections either.”

Tiera, who would have never expected to know that a nickname for her was also spreading, was still a little shaken.

Shin suspected that there was something behind the proposal, but as long as they went to exterminate dangerous monsters he had no reason to refuse.

He did not know where the monsters were, nor was he familiar with the lay of the land, so he wasn’t sure he could locate the monsters quickly.

It was still possible for them to act independently, but he probably wouldn’t charge into a monster horde and go wild as he did in Balmel.

The imperial army seemed to have precise information about the monsters’ whereabouts, so there was no reason to act on his own and risk going in the wrong direction.

Another reason was that he wanted to ask Milt about what happened to the Holy Woman Hermie, after they left.

“What should the other members do?”

Shin asked Shibaid, to reinforce the impression that Shibaid was the leader of the party.

“I am thinking that I will go with Sety while Schnee will go with Filma. It will be more effective to deal with the monsters like this.”

Groups composed of one front and one rear guard member. Shin and Schnee could take both roles if needed, so the balance was not bad.

Tiera’s stats had grown remarkably and she had equipment provided by Shin, so she could surely perform well as a rearguard fighter.

Her fighting ability was the lowest in the party, but with Shin as her partner and Kagerou at her side, she would not drag him down.

Or rather, it was simply unfair to compare her with them: for a denizen of the new world, Tiera’s strength was already at nigh impossible levels. She was the only one unable to believe it.

Shibaid and Schnee’s fame would also help boost the morale of the soldiers who did not know of their participation yet.

“Sety and I will proceed west towards the Sacred Place. Schnee and Filma will head north, destroying any monster groups on the way. Shin and Tiera will act as mobile units, prioritizing the elimination of high-level monster units.”

“No objections.”

Shin had no qualms about the strategy.

The most important point when dealing with floods was the number of monsters.

Shibaid and Filma would gather them in one place, then Sety and Schnee would eliminate them with large-scale magic: that was the most effective method. Moving in small groups allowed high flexibility and prevented the possibility of friendly fire.

It also meant being able to cover a smaller area, but the high speed provided by their stats compensated for more than enough. Their movement and extermination speed were overwhelmingly greater than any single army.

“The numbers are different, but the strategy is the same as during Shibaid’s era. Its effectiveness is proven and we do not have to take special measures. I personally agree.”

“Indeed. Adopting unusual strategies could lead to confusion among the troops. Are there any objections?”

Shimaia agreed and Rhubaid finally asked for any different opinions, but everyone nodded in response.

During Shibaid’s reign, they used a similar strategy of gathering monsters into one spot and eliminating them in one fell swoop. For Kilmont, it was a tried and true method they were familiar with, so many nodded with conviction.

After the movements of Shin’s party were decided, the meeting proceeded smoothly. The usage of the available forces had been the bottleneck, evidently.

“So, why are you coming with us? Like it’s the most natural thing in the world?”

“Oh, don’t be so mean! With all the things that happened between us!”

After the conference, Shin and the others returned to their inn. They were offered a room in the castle, but they were adventurers, so Shibaid opted out of such special treatment.

Their numbers increased as they returned to the inn, however: Milt had followed the party.

“Don’t you need to stay with the church people?”

“I said I wanted to go with you, and they said it was a good idea, instead. I guess they want to make connections with Shibaid and Schnee, more than you, though. They’re from the 『Healing』 Holy Woman faction, not the 『Soothsaying』 one.”

The fact that adventurers had collaborated with the church to rescue Hermie, the “Soothsaying” Holy Woman, was known: it was said that they were powerful Chosen Ones.

The Holy Women were not in direct conflict with each other, but they had different factions backing them, probably interested in making connections with powerful figures, or so Milt said.

“Well, I have no intention of making connections either.”

“Yeah, I thought so.”

Milt had used the connection building as an excuse to go with Shin’s party.

“I have a few old acquaintances here, and it’s not like we communicate often. We have to use chances like this to talk. I’ll tell you about what I heard in the church too, how about it?”

“Talking is fine, but you’re a tad too close…”

“Come on, what’s the problem?”

It wasn’t clear if she was aware of it or not, but Milt was hugging Shin in a way that his arm was squeezed between her breasts. Shin already pushed her away, but Tiera’s gaze was piercing him like a dagger.

Shibaid and Schnee had already departed, so only Tiera, Yuzuha, and Kagerou were left.

If Schnee was present, she would have definitely looked at Shin the same way Tiera did.

“I see you have new people with you too, I bet you have lots of interesting stories to tell.”

“I have a really bad feeling about this…”

Shin’s group would leave the next day, together with the church troops.

Milt said she was going to spend the night with them and wouldn’t be persuaded, so Shin already had a headache from her far too easygoing attitude.

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