“So, how big is the scale?”
Yui quickly switched his thoughts over and asked Ernst.
“According to Kureha’s report, the numbers seem to be ranging up to 50 people, majority are mercenaries who fell into ruin. It seems that the hoodlums of the army are pulled out afterwards. However, the problem emphasized in this report is that there are two or more fire and wind magicians mixed in them. I don’t think it’s possible for them to acquire magicians right away, so maybe they belong to the count’s original protégés”
Ernst who was affiliated with the Tactics Division read out the contents of the report of Kureha who was assigned on the surveillance of Tarim.
“Hey chief, I want to ask something. Which part of the Croceon Mountain Range is the Magic Stone Workshop located?”
Having a bad feeling in the inclusion of the magic solders, Yui asked urgently.
“Workshop, huh? Because the magic stones are excavated on top of the Croceon, if I’m not mistaken, rather than constructing it at the foot of the mountain, it was built at halfway up the mountain”
When he heard the answer, Yui imagined the worst case scenario has happened.
“Boss, what are you worried about?”
“Yeah. The Royal Guards of the Kingdom has as many as 30 horsemen on standby. I don’t think we have to worry about anything”
Crary and Kains were curious at Yui’s strange concern about the situation. When speaking about the royal Guards of the capital, each one cavalry is said to be equivalent to five average horsemen and infantry, so they are thinking that fifty soldiers and mercenaries would not be even a match for them at all.
“Crary, do you know the conditions of this revolt of Tarim to become successful?”
“Well, that is somewhere between killing the princess, or capturing her as a hostage”
Yui noded once at Crary’s answer, then supplemented with his own.
“Right on. Even if it’s a revolt, Tarim doesn’t have enough power to cause an uprising against the kingdom. If we assume they do, they have no other choice but to defect to the Empire or the Aier Republic. Although it can be said that it will be only their victory if they succeded on their objective right here, which is murdering the princess or capturing her. On the contrary, what will be the victory conditions for the princess in this battle against the rebels?”
“Well, probably either they annihilate them or drive them away”
Crary readily answered Yui’s question.
“Exactly. In other words, the Royal Guards must defend the princess and oppose the rebels, but the rebels only have to aim at the princess. This is a big handicap. And the best handicap is that the rebels probably will set up a battle in overwhelmingly dominant circumstances. Do you know when that is?”
Those who were present on the spot glanced at each other’s faces, looking for answers. But no one was able to provide one.
“Ahem. And what will that be, Ystats?”
Upon clearing his throat, Ernst asked onto Yui.
“Murder by Arson. That’s why the situation is a race against time. We need to prepare the Carlin’s whole army for dispatch”
“Apparently, it’s a hit in here too”
Before them were two people who were left as the staff in the workshop, thrown down with their hands bound up.
The magic stone workshop is the power source for various kinds of livelihood as well as military affairs, and is set up in between the grove halfway through Croceon. The magic stones in the Carlin market are supposed to be monopolized by the kingdom originally. However, according to Yui’s surveillance, nearly half of them were found to be flowing into the pockets of Tarim.
Your Highness, isn’t it time for us to descend the mountain?”
“You’re right. Secure the ledger and other material evidences proving the selling through illegal channels. After that let’s pack up and go down”
With the main purpose getting achieved, Elise showed a satisfied smile on her face. However, the illegal selling carried out here being a fact only proved that the contents of the documents Yui had thrown to her were true to an extent. Because of this, rather than rejoicing the settlement of the case, she also felt antipathy towards the current situation.
…but when the evidence gathering was completed and Elise was about to give orders to return, suddenly panicking voices of the guards outside of the workshop came to her ears.
“It’s a forest fire!”
A royal guard came running from the outside of the workshop yelled in all his voice and reported as loud as possible.
“What did you say?!”
As soon as he received the report, Lute dashed outside. Eins who was standing by Elise also headed to the window of the workshop and confirmed the fire surging in from the surroundings.
“There is no mistake. There is certainly a fire! Prepare for escape immediately!”
Eins shouted instructions to the surrounding chamberlains, forcing them to urge forward despite their unrest, driving them all outside the workshop.
But upon making it outside, Elise who rushed out of the workshop could only see a wall of flame generating like a storm in the surroundings with the workshop at its center.
“Is there any escape routes?”
“We still don’t know. Other than the eight guards left as bodyguards, all the others are currently searching for escape routes in the surroundings”
“Good. As soon as an escape route is established, carry out a forced descent immediately”
As soon as Lute gave his orders, the royal guard who responded ran off to search for a place with weak flames.
Although Elise was a somewhat strong-willed woman, she was still a 17-year old girl, and before the blaze of the wall of flames that burned the surroundings, she felt weak in her knees completely. Eins who saw it checked the status of the surroundings, quickly returned to the cabin, searched a bucket, filled the contents with water, and splashed it over the head of the princess.
“I apologize for the impoliteness, Princess Elise. Although your figure wet with water still looks graceful even at such time. Well then, shall we start?”
Hearing the words of Eins, Elise who had regained her composure, although her legs are still trebling somewhat, she was now to an extent that can walk on her own.
“Thank you, Eins. I never thought you were such a great man”
Hitting a joke against Eins, Elise started to recover herself. While encouraging the chamberlains who could not hide their unrest, different from the Royal Guards who seem to be relatively calm, they pressed the preparations for an escape route.
“Reporting. The fire appears to be a little weak in a route heading towards the foot of the mountain. There is no other way to descend this mountain aside from this route”
As one of the royal guards reported so, Lute looked back and faced Elise and told her.
“We’ll go with the report. Please run through the foot of the mountain right away”
“I understand. The captain and the others?”
“We will accompany you of course, but this will be a race against time. Princess Elise and Eins, please descend the mountain path first with the guidance of the four Royal Guards leading the way. The other four will be added to guide the rear. Troops, prepare for dispatch!”
The strong soldiers of the Royal Guards surrounded Elise in Lute’s command.
“Understood. Captain, I’ll entrust the other chamberlains to you”
“Please leave it to me. It is my mission to make all members descend the mountain safe and sound. You don’t have to worry about us, as we will go down the mountain right after Your Highness’ party has gone ahead. Anyway, please go now before the flames get stronger”
Elise nodded in reassurance to the words of Lute, then accompanied by the Royal Guards from the front and rear, they started to descend the mountain path, choosing a path with a relatively good foothold.
That time, they still haven’t noticed, on the other side of the blazing flames, the shadows chasing over the figure of Elise.