Wuxiaworld > Oukoku e Tsuzuku Michi > Chapter 386: Central Plains Unification War ? Mortal Combat on the Bridge

Chapter 386: Central Plains Unification War ? Mortal Combat on the Bridge

Sekrit slowly moves from the railing of the bridge to the center.

The enemy soldiers barely react, remaining in position and fortifying defenses on either side of the bridge.

「I have an injured person over here and can’t move. Do me a favor and come at me.」

I say as I stab my Dual Crater near my feet.

「Captain!」
「Don’t rush. He has nowhere to run. Wait for the signal.」

Both sides seem to exchange some kind of signal.
So they intend to coordinate their attack.

I stay vigilant and examine the bridge more carefully.

The bridge spanning the fairly wide river is 4 meters wide and no more than 50 meters long.
It’s well-made using sturdy stones and strong enough to support cavalry running across.

My gaze shifts to the river.
There is a relatively large volume of water, all of which isn’t muddy.
It doesn’t look like I can fool the enemy’s eyes if I grabbed Sekrit and jumped into the river.

「We don’t have to fight the demon head-on! Shoot him to death!」
「Match up your timing…… loose――!!」

At the same time the order was given, multiple arrows fly from both sides of the bridge.
I estimate roughly 50 of them.

「I thought this would happen.」

I went pretty wild with their allies after all.
There’s no way they would come attack me from the front.
Even if I’m a commander, it would be annoying to deal with me, that’s why they are doing things in this way.

「I’m not going to let them kill me so simply like this though.」

If I die, Sekrit’s fate would be sealed.

I take a deep breath, then suddenly stop and open my eyes wide.

I see the enemy’s arrows soar high in the sky, change direction and fall down.
When I ascertain their trajectory…… all of them are aimed at me, not likely to hit Sekrit, who is crouching by the railing of the bridge.

While holding my shield, I twist my body and swing my longsword.

「H-he won’t defend!?」
「There are that many arrows!」

I can’t block all the arrows with only my shield.

「On top of that, they’re all accurate.」

If I stay still, at least 30 arrows would hit their target.
I can’t afford to cry about it though.

I turn my body and sweep my longsword in front of me first.

With a crisp snap, four arrows were cut down. The breeze generated by the swing of my sword blows three more arrows away.
One hits my chest and bounces off, then one grazes my cheek.

「Not even one hit him!?」
「So it was his swing that caused the arrows to veer off unnaturally…… monster.」

Next is the back.

Using the momentum from swinging my sword, I continue to turn and hide my back with my shield.
I feel three soft impacts transmit to my hand holding the shield, two dull sensations on my back and one jolt of sharp pain.

「That guy, does he have eyes on the back of his head!?」
「He got hit by one though. He’ll be thrown off-balance. It’s over for him now.」


Sure enough, swinging my heavy shield and longsword throws me off-balance.
But that was also anticipated.

「Hmph!」

As I spin, I fall to the ground and make my body low, letting five arrows pass right over my head.

「He dodged!?」
「Dammit…… he doesn’t only have power. He’s fast too!」

I let go of my shield in my fallen position, grab my longsword with both hands and then slash diagonally upward as I get on my feet.

My full-powered strike whipped up a more violent wind than before.
The blade makes direct contact with three arrows, deflecting them, the gust blows away another five arrows, one stabs into my thigh, and finally one stabs close to my collarbone.

I pull out the arrows stuck in my thigh and back and throw them in the river.
Since the arrow stabbed near my collarbone is buried rather deep, I break the shaft in half so it doesn’t get in my way.

「Fumu, it’s over?」

「He withstood a barrage like that?」
「He did get stabbed with three. But it didn’t affect him at all…… damn demon!」

Don’t mention those three. Hearing you say it makes the pain more noticeable.

I wanted you to praise my efforts.

「Next volley! L-looseー!!」

I can’t let you do that.
Another shower of arrows come raining down.

「Although……」

The enemy must be rattled.
Their collective volley seems more scattered this time around, and more importantly, the timing between the army in front of me and the army behind me is off.

「If this is all」

I choose to wield my Dual Crater and stare down the flying arrows.

「I can do this.」

I take a firm step forward and swing my Dual Crater.
The way I’m using the Dual Crater is not as unrestrained as when I’m wielding the longsword, rather I determine the trajectory of each individual arrow and deliberately cut them down one by one.

「What is that!?」
「His sword…… I can’t see it!?」

My Dual Crater is as light as a feather compared to other weapons so I can basically use it like an extension of my arm.
I might not have been able to fend off all the arrows if the barrage was as coordinated as the first time, however the slight delay gives me a window to deal with one side before the other.

After knocking down the volley in front of me, I turn around and face the volley behind me.
I think I can manage to avoid getting hit.

「I’ve got it, I saw you.」

I grin at the enemy.

The enemy commanders standing on opposite ends of the bridge take a step back and shake their heads to clear it before giving out orders.

「All units, prepare to attack. ……arrows won’t work on him anymore.」
「Don’t underestimate this lone man. He isn’t an enemy who you can defeat with ordinary methods.」

Soldiers holding swords and spears advance forward on the bridge.

A sigh of relief is breathed by my inner self.
My acting skills surprise me sometimes.

There’s no way I could actually see all the arrows.
If they kept shooting a fifth or sixth volley, they would eventually get me.

「Attack――!!」

With that said, I’m being pincered so I don’t exactly have the luxury to joke around.

I draw my longsword back to my hips and ready myself in a lowered stance.

Considering the width of the bridge is four people side-by-side, eight people are coming at me at one time.

「「「Uoooooooh!!」」」

When the spear-wielding enemies get into my range, I sweep my longsword in a circle with me at its center.

「Heh, too easy!」
「Hahaha, you think I’ll be done in by a simple sweep!?」

The eight enemy soldiers didn’t take the final step forward.
I see, so they might have seen how I fought before.

「The time to strike is now after he has swung, we’ll finish him and―― how strange, my body isn’t moving the way I want.」
「Me too, everything looks tilted sideways.」

Well, that’s because the top halves of your body were cut off and are sliding to the ground.

「It’s so obvious.」

I saw them take a half-hearted step forward from the beginning so I extended the reach of my longsword by one step.
Seven of the enemies died in a similar manner.
The eighth happened to be shorter than the others and managed to escape being sliced.

「T-thank goodness I’m short.」

「If only you were 5 cm shorter.」

The top portion of the eighth soldier’s head flew off and he falls over, spilling the contents of his head.
I took out eight people like I wanted to.

「What are you doing!? Don’t think we can go up against the demon and come out without a scratch! Go with the next attack!」

That display wasn’t enough to faze the enemy and multiple sword-wielding soldiers come at me.
Six came from each side, for a total of twelve.

「C’mon, give me a break.」

I repel the sword swung down at me with my longsword, then roundhouse kick the enemy approaching me at the same time from behind, dropping both of them into the river together.

「You won’t drop me so easily!」
「Is that so?」

I bend down and, using my shield, bash the face of the soldier who thrust his short spear at me, sending him flying back horizontally into the railing of the bridge, whose head cracks open on collision.

「His sword is a super heavy weapon, an opening will definitely be created after he swings it. Don’t ease up!」

While that statement pisses me off, it’s true.
Besides, there isn’t much space on the bridge to move around freely and I can’t leave Sekrit’s side.

「But, it won’t be so easy――」

I bring my longsword back in front of me and lower my hips in a thrusting stance.
The enemy soldiers yell loudly and rush forward.

「–To do me in.」

I throw my Dual Crater forward.
The glimmering blade doesn’t slaughter anybody, instead it stabs into the railing of the bridge and diverts the attention of the enemy soldiers for a split second.

At the same time, I kick off the bridge and charge forward with the speed of exploding rock fragments.
In response, the enemy soldiers hold out their shields hastily, but I thrust with all my might as if they don’t exist.

「「Guboh!」」

Two voices overlap.
My longsword pierces through the initial enemy with the shield and also skewers the soldier behind him.

「Now!」

Seeing my sword plunge hilt-deep, an enemy soldier shouts to alert his friends, but before anybody could respond to the call, I let go of my longsword, pull out my Dual Crater from the railing and thrust the blade through that soldier’s throat.

Guiding my sword in the opposite direction after swinging through, I cut down another and then hop backwards while making another swing to take out one more. That reduces the enemies in front to zero.

「Hmph!」

Not long after taking a breather, I hurl my shield behind me.
The shield soars through the air like a discus, slamming into the torso of one enemy soldier along the way and also making a fellow soldier beside him flinch.

There’s no time for words.
Raising my Dual Crater, I rush in and slice the head of an enemy soldier in half.

Since I’ve thrown my shield away though, I’ve basically neglected defense and can’t dodge the short spear aimed at my side.

「I’ve got you!」

An enemy soldier delights in himself when he finds an opening to target a gap in my armor.
He genuinely seems happy, so I smile along with him.

「……w-why?」
「You don’t have enough strength.」

He certainly aimed for a vital, but I’ve trained my sides.
This guy isn’t strong enough to get through my muscles.

I snap the partially buried spear in half at the center and return the broken weapon right into his eyeball.
The soldier twitches twice and falls over before two additional soldiers take his place.

「「Yaaaah!!」」

Their movements are synced.

I parry one slash with my Dual Crater, then quickly slice off the soldier’s head, but I unavoidably take the other slash with my arm.

「Guh……」

My intention was to block with my armguard, though the opponent isn’t an amateur.
At the last moment, he shifted his sword so it would land right at the joint of my armor, drawing blood as a result.
From the sensation, I can tell his sword cut to my flesh, and the pain is enough to make me question how long I can continue to fight like this.

「Cheh.」

Boiling with anger, I grab the man by his helmet using my bare hand and slam his head into the railing of the bridge twice before throwing him into the river.

「T-two 10-man squads…… all wiped out.」
「Demon……」

Commanders on both sides of the bridge become irritated and I hear the enemy soldiers express their unrest.

「If you overlook me, I’m willing to let you run back home with your lives. You don’t want anymore to die, am I right?」

「You must be dumb! Keep attacking.」

「Infantry will just pile up corpses. Trample him with horses!」

Cavalry line up in front of me.
Horses take up more space than people, so only two can be side by side at one time, plus five more rows are behind, totalling ten units altogether.
Ten may seem like a small number, but I have to take on all of them head-on, which will likely make for a tougher battle.

「Get him!」

When the cavalry charge in unison, I pick up two spears, one in each hand, dropped by enemy soldiers in the previous engagement.
My Dual Crater doesn’t have enough reach and I threw my longsword somewhere far away.

The familiar dull trotting of hooves on dirt changes to a crisp clopping on stone.

「「Seiiyaahh!!」」

First come the two in front, aiming precisely at my chest with their spears, which I crouch down and dodge.
Two spearheads graze my temples.

With a low growl, I raise up and stab both riders in the side with the spears I’m holding.
The spears buried halfway into the soldiers’ bodies and get snapped by the force of the horses running past me.
I never intended to use those things more than once anyways, so losing the weapons doesn’t concern me.

「How dare you!」
「I’ll finish him!」

Two more cavalry promptly follow the first two.

「I wonder about that.」

I deflect the spear of one cavalry with my armguard, then pick up a fallen sword and stab the horse’s thigh.
The horse lets out a pained neigh and falls to the ground, flinging the rider off as well.
His landing surface being stone should be enough for a fatal blow.

「Next.」

The other cavalry which came slightly delayed is wielding a sword instead of a spear and is standing before me in an imposing manner.
Against a frontal enemy, a sword cavalry’s only attack is to run over them.

「It’d be nice if you had the guts to do so.」

I pick up a sword that just happens to be lying around and face the cavalry with a belligerent smile.
After a brief moment of hesitation, the enemy changes direction.

「I didn’t think so.」

Not letting the opening pass me by, I charge at the enemy cavalry and tackle the horse from the side.
In an unstable position because he was in the middle of changing course, the cavalry staggers and crashes into the railing, violently propelling the rider at a 45 degree angle.

It was right when I turned to face my next opponent.

「Guh.」

My foot slipped on a fallen enemy’s blood or brain fluid.
I try to plant myself firmly, but pain shoots up to my head from my thigh and arm, causing me to waver.

I see, Sekrit might have experienced the same thing.
It was my fault for making light of the bolt she was hit with the other day.

An enemy cavalry uses its momentum to kick me while I’m stumbling.
Of course, I couldn’t hold steady and was knocked down.

「Now, trample him!」

Enemy soldiers shout from both sides of the bridge, and as if answering expectations, the next two cavalry rush at me.
They were not holding weapons, simply gripping tightly on their reins so they can run at full speed…… all so they could run over me.

「Not good.」

I have a sword in hand, but it’s impossible to support the several hundreds of kilograms of weight behind the horse’s hooves.
Even if I try to counterattack and kill the horse, my head will be crushed.

「Uoooooh!」
「Do it.」「Gooooー!」

I hear the resounding cries of the cavalry and soldiers cheering in support. Looking around, I only find useless broken spears and bent swords.

That was when my eyes met with Sekrit’s eyes.
Her eyes, vacant and unfocused perhaps from losing too much blood, were shifting back and forth from me to a certain point.

At the end of her gaze was…… the shield I threw earlier.

I pull the heavy shield close to myself.
I don’t have enough time to raise my body.

「Prepare yourself――」

The enemy cavalry was courteous enough to slightly step away before bringing down the horse’s hooves.

I fix my sight on the hoof and prop up my shield with both hands.

「Gaaah――――!」

What comes out of my mouth could not be distinguished clearly as a shout or a roar as I attempt to support the extremely heavy additional weight pressing down on the shield.

My jaw clenches down hard enough that my teeth could break and the blood vessels throughout my body could pop at any time as I gather strength.
I hear bones creaking and muscles tearing.

Then there was a thunderous sound.

「You’re kidding……」
「Unbelievable……」
「There’s no way……」

What came into my view was the slowly dancing body of a horse which spun once in the air before hitting the ground.

Sekrit’s mouth warped into a delighted smile as she watches me.

「Aaah, my joints hurt.」

The next two cavalry charge in a hurry, although I don’t feel any pressure from them, probably because they were feeling timid after seeing what I did.
I grab the spear of one cavalry and pull the rider down. The other one panics at the last moment and tries to distance himself, but self-destructs and collides with the bridge railing.

「You guys are the last ones, huh.」

Only two more cavalry to go.
For one of the cavalry, I stab with a stolen spear, then dodge the spear of the other by lowering my body before kicking and breaking the horse’s hind leg.

「A ten-man cavalry squadron…… wiped out.」

The enemy commander shakes his head silently.

「Do you feel like overlooking me now?」

I ask confidently.
The enemy likely won’t seriously entertain my request even though I’m a little bit serious.

「Gehoh.」

I clear my throat subtly.
Some blood is mixed with my saliva. I heard my rib crack when I fell.
Things could have been worse and the rib could have pierced my lung.

My movements are becoming duller.
I hope the next wave will be gentler as I retrieve my Dual Crater and get into a ready stance.

「Throw!」

The enemy soldiers are twirling around sling-type weapons and hurling rocks and iron balls.

「Siege weapons?」

They must have brought them in anticipation of attacking Arkland.
Compared to arrows, their aim is not as accurate, however their power is higher. That shoddy aim might actually be more dangerous for the crouching Sekrit though.

Using my shield and sword, I deflect the stones and metal objects to protect both Sekrit and myself.
So far, I much prefer these projectiles since they’re slower.

That was when something lit on fire came flying at me.
Sekrit cries out, trying to warn me, but I know what it is without her telling me.

「I guess this should be expected from siege weapons.」

The flaming pottery must have oil or gunpowder inside.
It would be bad if I smash it.

I have no other choice though.
At such a speed, it isn’t a problem for me to dodge.

If I do, and the trajectory happens to be on target, it would land right on top of Sekrit.
Sekrit would be done for if I avoid this attack.

Sekrit groans feebly in an attempt to convey something to me, but unfortunately I don’t have time to strain my ears to interpret her.

「I have to do this.」

I swing my shield and break the pottery.

「We did it!」
「He fell for it!」

The gallery is too noisy. I did what I did with the understanding of what would happen, you idiots.

There was a small explosion and my field of vision was engulfed in flames.
I remain standing still with my back turned, acting as a shield so the fire doesn’t reach Sekrit.

「……you idiot.」

I don’t want you complaining after I protected you.
My back feels hot like it’s on fire…… no, it is actually on fire.

「Keep pouring it on! Burn him to a crisp!」

The enemy continues flinging multiple flaming projectiles at me.

「Fuuhー」

As I inhale deeply and look up at the sky, everything seems to be moving strangely slow, maybe because my life is experiencing a crisis.
I see a line of fire drawn in the air for each pottery flying.

There are a total of 25 projectiles…… 10 of which will hit me. I remember the trajectories of all the falling objects and close my eyes.

「Fuu.」

I exhale shortly yet sharply, then with my eyes still closed, smash the flaming objects with my sword and shield.
Fire shrouds my head after the sounds of shattering porcelain.

Right now, I should be burning like the firewood in a furnace.
If I breathed in, my lungs would burn and if I opened my eyes, they would burst from the heat.

「We did it, he’s finished!」
「He’s completely covered by fire!」

I know you’re waiting for it, but I’m not dead yet.

「Hngh!」

I release the remaining air in my lungs as I stomp firmly on the ground and spin around once.
A grating sound is produced by my metal boots scraping along the stone bridge.
I utilize the centrifugal force, ignoring the screams of pain from my knee, heel and injured area, and spin fully with all my might.

「Ah……」

I couldn’t tell whether the gasp came from the enemy camp or Sekrit.

Once I opened my eyes, I see a circle of fire around me.
Furthermore, the flames are spreading outward like a casting net.

I blew the flames off my body with a high speed spin. It was an all-or-nothing gamble and it worked.
The fire enhanced by the scattered oil burned the green grass growing next to the river, causing smoke to rise up from various places.

Suddenly, a worn-out cloth flies at my head.
It was Sekrit who threw the cloak at me.
I realized at that moment that her hair was still smoldering.

The only way I could extinguish the fire with such a method beyond common sense is because of the dragon armor which doesn’t burn. It was simply the oil on the surface of the armor burning. If my armor or clothes caught on fire, there was nothing I could have done.

Despite the short period of time of being enveloped in fire, I didn’t come out unscathed.
A sharp pain is radiating from all the exposed skin on my body.
The more time passes, the greater the pain I will feel, and I won’t be able to move.

「Phew, that was close. I nearly became a roasted orc.」

Not willing to show any signs of weakness, I direct a joking remark at the enemy.

The enemy commander has a stiff face and the words coming out of his mouth lessen remarkably.
I’m the one who should be making a strained face though. My entire body hurts.

「……l-load the next volley?」

「No, there’s a ton of smoke. If we continue to attack with fire, we might give him a veil to escape in. He’s weakened from our attacks…… or he should be. We should be able to finish him now…… I think.」

Appearing before me is a knight clearly dressed in a different attire than the ordinary rank-and-file soldier.
He dismounts from his horse and slowly inches closer to me.

His armor is of the full plate variety and based on his movements, I can tell it’s rather thin, granting him mobility.
He wields a two-handed greatsword with a blade around the same length as the Dual Crater.

「A one-on-one now of all times?」

I stop myself short of picking up my longsword and put both hands on my Dual Crater instead.

I raise my sword when the knight reaches a distance of roughly two meters.

「It looks that way. Let us fight fair and square!」
「Fair and square, you say?」

I’m surprised he can still say that after shooting me with arrows, surrounding me with infantry, rushing me with cavalry and setting me on fire with siege weapons.
Regardless, all wars are pretty much fought like that, so complaining doesn’t really change anything.

「If you think you’ve won―― you’re making a huge mistake.」

I position my Dual Crater at eye level and then open my eyes wide.
I have to ignore the pain and concentrate on this enemy.

「――how foolish. Leaving your large sword like that…… I know why you did that!」

The knight shouts and charges forward. Fair and square, my ass. You do know why.

A smile creeps on my face as I block the knight’s downward swinging sword.

「I see.」
「Seeeeeiii!!」

The knight lets out a battle scream and puts more weight behind his attack.
I take a step backward and redirect his attack to the side of me.

「There’s more where that came from!」

The knight, after locking swords with me, puts some distance between us before unleashing a continuous string of attacks consisting of a sweep of his sword from the right, then bringing it back for a sweep from the left, followed by a slightly diagonal downward swing.

「I see.」

Barely retreating, I deflect the two sweeps and sidestep the downward swing.
When I aimed for the knight’s neck after seeing he lost his balance, he easily dodges and once again distances himself two meters away.

「You move well for being riddled with wounds. You’re truly a demon…… I despise you as an enemy and respect you as a warrior.」

「Well thanks.」

The knight points the tip of his sword at me and gets ready to thrust.

「It’s all over though. In terms of movement and strength, I have you beat. This place will be your grave.」

He seems to be sure of his victory.

「I might be hurting all over so much that I can’t take it, but……」

The man tenses up.

「I can still surprisingly-」

I see the slightest movement of the sword tip thrusting out.

「-move my body.」

Faster than the man could move, I take a thrusting stance and fly out like an arrow.

「Wha-!? Fast!?」

His sword snaps in half after blocking my unexpected thrust.
I pull my sword back and take one step back so I can launch myself forward for a second thrust.

「I can’t see!?」

The man’s right arm is cut off and his sword dances in the air.
Without delay, I take another step forward.

「Wait!」

Frantically, the man twists his body in time, as my sword tears through his helmet and grazes the side of his head, causing fresh blood to trickle down.
To dodge all of my three-part thrust, he’s pretty quick.

I take one more step and headbutt the man in the face.

「Gue……」

Blood drips from his nose and then right as the knight falls on his butt, my Dual Crater cuts into his face right below his nose.
The battle is settled.

At that moment, before I turned around and as I was thinking of who my next opponent would be, I feel an impact on my back.

It was from a spear being thrust at me.
The sensation of something crawling down my skin must be from my blood oozing out.

「I failed to finish him, huh ……fine then. I’m next, let us fight fairly!」

「Hey now……」

The man twirls his spear as he declares loudly.
He considers what he did ‘fair’? I’m actually impressed that he can say that, although I’m also angry.

「Haaaaah! Toooh!」

He thrusts his spear, letting out an extended high-pitched yell each time.

His thrusts aim at my face, throat and thigh, precisely targeting the gaps in my armor.
So he isn’t merely cowardly and has some level of skill.

「Tch……」

Nevertheless, it isn’t difficult to see through his attacks.
The problem is that he is maintaining a certain distance.

「Fuooon! Teeei!」

Everytime I try to close the three meter distance he is repeatedly lunging at me from, he swiftly jumps back, so I can’t attack.
If I was at full strength, I could entertain him for as long he can last, however a battle of endurance is the one thing I don’t have time for.

「It can’t be helped.」

While I’m swinging my Dual Crater to brush away his spear, I purposely create an opening to my neck.

「Right thereee!」

Naturally, the man doesn’t miss it.
Accompanied by a nasty shout, he thrusts at my throat.

「……huh?」

Rather than piercing through my throat, the tip of his spear is held in my left hand.

My back was vulnerable when he first stabbed me.
Yet it wasn’t fatal.
With his strength and knowing where his aim is, I can easily stop him with one hand.

「This is the most your strength amounts to.」

I say as I pull the spear toward me.

「Uwaaaah!?」

My fist lands in the face of the man who lets out an ugly scream.
I hear the sound of bones breaking as his face is utterly ruined and his two eyeballs pop out of their sockets.

「Guh.」

At the same time, the pain in my back shoots to my head and I notice a thick liquid drip to my feet, though I choose not to pay attention, knowing it would certainly amplify the pain unnecessarily.

「I’m next!!!」

A large man appears, his voice equally as grand, and his body wrapped entirely in armor so I can’t even see his face.

「Demon, I challenge you to a fair fight!!」

「I’m not going to comment about that anymore.」

My Dual Crater is pointed at the big man……and then my body freezes.

The man’s weapon looks very similar to the weapon that cut off Sekrit’s hand.

「That halberd of yours…… are you the only one who carries it?」

After briefly tilting the weapon to inspect it, the man replies boldly.

「Indeed! I have come…… to avenge my step-brother whom you killed!!!」

I see, is that so?
This works out for me too. If I engross myself in the anger, the feeling of pain will go away.

「Deryaaah!!」

The man swings down his halberd with full force.
I allow it to come down, just barely making contact with me, before I take a half step backward, narrowly avoiding the hit.

His massive weapon slams into the stone bridge, breaking off chunks of rocks and sending vibrations rippling out from the point of impact strong enough for my footing to feel unsteady.

「How dare you hurt my woman. I’m going to take all of my anger out on you.」

I unleash a front kick on the knee of the large man through his armor.
A mix of metal crumpling and a wet twig snapping could be heard.

I lift my Dual Crater before the man yells out.

「Die.」

I spoke and swung down at the same time.
My sword cuts in from the top of his head, travelling down his face, neck, chest, stomach and his stinky-looking crotch before escaping from the bottom.

Like a piece of firewood that was split in half, the man’s body separates cleanly, one part falling to the left and the other part falling to the right.

A steady breath leaves the gap in my teeth as I bring up my Dual Crater.
Even after shaking the blood of the jewel-like blade, the Dual Crater seems to be glowing redder than usual.

「C-commander…… your orders.」
「Next…… next……」

The enemy commanders on opposite sides look at each other before shouting.

「All units, charge!! Take out the demon at all costs!!」

So that’s what they’re going to resort to after all.

Using the few seconds of down time, I run over to Sekrit and steal her lips.
The expression she has is something between sad and angry.

「I’m definitely going to bring you back alive. Then I’m going to kiss you ten thousand times more than this, enough to make your lips swell.」

After saying that, a small grin forms on her face and she mumbles words I can’t distinguish.

What ensued beyond that was a crazy melee.

My thigh gets cut and I retaliate by slicing open the enemy’s head.

My head gets whacked by a mace and I counter by slicing open the enemy’s abdomen.

When two spearmen stab my torso from either side, I grab their spears, lift them up and slam them against the railing of the bridge.

A blade swings down on my shoulder, splashing blood into the air, which I respond to by grappling with the enemy and cutting his carotid artery.

In the narrow margin created, a spear thrusts at Sekrit, but I stop it before she gets hit and twist the man’s neck.

Enemy corpses pile up on the bridge and blood runs off into the river.
The river water is dyed red and several corpses are flushed away as well, none of which resemble human bodies anymore.

I myself have become red from all the blood.
There is gash on my forehead, a cut from a sword grazing my neck, and countless wounds decorating my body from chest to stomach.
In addition, my skin is also turning red from being horribly burned.

Two impacts land on my back from crossbow bolts hitting their mark.
I tensed my muscles so they aren’t fatal and I can’t feel much pain at this point, so it doesn’t bother me much.

「He’s still standing……?」
「70 deaths…… Cap…… vice captain, he really isn’t human after all.」

Enough with the chatter, come at me. My vision is becoming blurry.

I kick the captain’s severed head into the river and glare at the remaining enemies.

But an especially loud sound interrupts.
It’s the rattling of armor from heavy infantry footsteps.

Now, is it going to be a lucky sign or an unlucky one?

「What are you guys doing!? The Goldonian Army has long since retreated to the north. Hurry and pursue them!」

So it was an unlucky sign?

Doing a rough count, there are more than 50 heavy infantry, a number I honestly can’t fight in my current condition.

This is part in the theatrical plays I watched with Nonna where the protagonist mumbles “so this is the end” and charges head-on at the enemy, but I have to think of a way to survive until the end.

「That’s the demon…… alright, we’ll kill him!」

The heavy infantry fill the width of the bridge and their armor clatters with every step they take toward me.

No matter how hard I think, I can’t come up with a method to get out of this situation.
So the only thing I can do is rampage wildly on guts alone.

「――――!」

As I was about to ready my Dual Crater and jump into the enemy’s midst, I felt something tug lightly on my leg.
Sekrit, whose face is beyond pale and is grim to the point that her skin appears black, points with a trembling finger.

She was pointing at a crack in the center of the bridge.
Its size was the same as any other crack on the bridge made from the fierce fighting, the only difference being the small hairline cracks radiating outward.

My only chance is if I run there. I grab Sekrit with my left hand and pick her up.

「It’s now or never, so I’ll show you a final spectacle. Come at me altogether!」

I hold my Dual Crater steady and spur them on confidently.
I hope it didn’t come out like I’m planning something.

「See the final moments of the demon to the end! Come on!」

The heavy infantry line up close together along the entire width of one side of the bridge and advance.

I shout and charge at the enemy once a portion of them pass the center mark where the crack in the bridge is located.

「The end of a demon, huh……」

I hear the voice of an enemy soldier in the back.
It’s a very heroic end if I do say so myself. If I were to really die here, I wonder if there will be a play made about me.

「But―― I’m not going to die.」

Right before clashing with the heavy infantry, I jump into the center of the group of enemy soldiers and stab the crack in the bridge with my Dual Crater.

There was a sound of a small rock cracking apart.

Then came a rumbling beneath us.

The ground wasn’t just rumbling.
It was crumbling.

The bridge caves in, then after a brief sensation of floating in midair, Sekrit and I fall into the cold water of the river.

「W-what the-!!?」
「Uwaaaaah!!」
「I’m falling!!」

The enemy heavy infantry around me also fall into the river.

Sounds of crumbling above my head doesn’t stop after we drop down.
Apparently, the point where I stuck my Dual Crater extended into a fissure stretching to the other parts of the bridge.

I thought I would hear the screaming and yelling of the soldiers, except the sound was drowned out.
The sounds from the collapse of the bridge and the stone fragments splashing into the water below were too loud for me to hear anything else.

I’m hugging Sekrit tightly with both hands.
My shield, my longsword and my Dual Crater are not with me.
If we get back home alive, I’ll have no choice but to apologize and accept a hundred slaps from Nonna’s breasts along with Sekrit.

I submerge myself as far as I can and swim downstream.
Stone and metal fragments that make up the bridge rain down together with the enemy heavy infantry.
Being hit would mean the end and that I wasn’t lucky.

「Damn, the demon broke the bridge! Unbelievable!!」

「He should be trying to escape by swimming underwater! Keep a close eye on the water surface and absolutely don’t let him get away.」

「Even if you say that, it’s hard to tell the difference with all the falling debris creating pillars of water, all the dust in the air and our fellow soldiers flailing in the river……」

「We’ve got to save our allies quickly! Heavy infantry are helpless once they fall in the water!!」

I navigate underwater, praying quietly in my heart that they can’t find me.
Although my breath is running out, I’m done for if they find me going up to get air.

「……」

A leather bag is offered to me from within my arms.
When it’s placed to my lips, a gulp of air is inside. Apparently Sekrit arranged this before we fell.
I nod slightly and then swim as far away as possible.

Finally reaching my limit, I resurface and see that we’ve traveled a fair distance from the bridge.
Since I no longer have the stamina to swim further, I pull Sekrit up on the side of the river.

「Are you still alive?」
「……yes.」

Sekrit replies softly, her complexion looking worse than before.
We might have gotten away for now, but we aren’t completely out of danger yet. We have to run back to camp where our allies are.

「……here, take this.」

What Sekrit was clutching with her right hand was the Dual Crater.

「You picked it up for me?」

Sekrit doesn’t say anything.
Her cuteness just exploded to new heights, although the both of us would die if I let my love for her explode right now.

「He shouldn’t be able to swim very far with the injuries he has…… perhaps he just sunk on the way?」
「No, common sense doesn’t apply to demons. We should look further downstream.」

I hear shouting and hooves clopping.
They’re already searching for me. I hate how fast South Yuguria deals with every single thing.
Can’t they fight at a slower pace?

I turn my head when I hear the splash of water and see Schwartz swimming toward me.
I don’t know where he came from, but we can make a clean getaway if we ride him.

However, it looks like the enemy is going to find us sooner.

「Hey, that person there is――」
「What did you say――?」

An enemy cavalry flies in front of me as I prepare to fight again with my Dual Crater.
It wasn’t just the rider, it was horse and all.

「The only one who could do something like that is……」

「It’s me of course.」

Carefully wiping the clotted blood off a sword with a handkerchief is Brynhildr.

「So you came to save me.」

As I reach out an arm to embrace her, my wrist is immobilized.
No, it wasn’t simply held in place. It was being twisted with her inhuman strength.

「You’re going to break it…… stop.」

I don’t have much energy left. At this rate, I might actually die.

「You fool…… you ran away on horse so it took me some time to find you! During the day, I can’t match that horse’s speed!」

She says as she grabs me by the collar.

「Look how battered you are…… with wounds like that, you could die at any moment.」

「I won’t die yet. The same can’t be said of Sekrit. I want you to take her back to our camp.」

It’s pretty pathetic of me to take advantage of Brynhildr like this, but it can’t be helped.
I don’t think I can stand on my own right now.

「You better be prepared for later…… if you die before that, you’ll wake up as one of my household.」

Brynhildr grabs my collar and I hang on tightly to Sekrit.

「Gue……」

Brynhildr runs literally as fast as the wind.
A petite girl is dragging a large adult man who is holding a dark-skinned beauty in his arms. It truly is a comical sight.

Thinking about it again, the most comical sight might be the black horse who came to his owner’s aid only to discover nobody is around.
I hear the sad neighing getting further away.

Hey, just shut up and follow us.
I’ll treat you to a feast and a nice mare later.

「I’d appreciate if you just listened.」

I’m too exhausted to reply, so Brynhildr takes it as a signal to continue.

「Goldonia has begun their counterattack. There appear to be several hidden camps along their retreat route. The pursuing enemy was ambushed from the side and scrambled to deal with them.」

I see, so they didn’t lose.

「At the same time, those who ran away turned around. It seems like this was all part of the plan from the start.」

So they’re replying in kind to what happened before.
What a wonderful plan, I just wished someone told me about it.

「Because of that, it took a long time to search for you through all those small fry. Who has ever heard of a vampire going around killing people during daytime. Making me do something so ridiculous.」

Looking closer at Brynhildr’s dress, which doesn’t match the dirty battlefield, I see spots of blood splattered here and there as well as damage to various edges.

「Anyway, the soldiers of the feudal lords have fallen apart. 80% of them are dead.」

I would think so after what happened.

「However, those dogs or whatever who are close to you only suffered damage to one third of their forces.」

It sounds like the poor trio fought hard.
I would have felt bad if all of them were killed. It’s a good thing they’re okay.

「Uu……」

After I finished listening, I let out a small groan and slump over, my head hanging down.

「!? Hey, hey! Are you dead!?」

As I lovingly enjoy Brynhildr’s panicked voice, I tense up my abdominal muscles.

「You big idiot! But making you a part of my household in this sun…… I need to find some shade.」

Her beautiful voice was overlapped by the sound of my fart.

「Fuh.」

「「……」」

Brynhildr strangles me with my collar while Sekrit struggles in my arms.
I guess it was a stinky one.

「Hahaha, sorry about that. I couldn’t hold it in. I feel better now that I squeezed it out. Now I can rest a little.」

I smile briefly before passing out completely.

–Third Person POV–

Trisnia Harbor.

As the setting sun dyes the river red, ship after ship departs from the port.

「There you have it, 30 large transport ships lent to you, Empress Wilhelmina.」

A portly middle-aged man sticks out his greasy hand.
Jammed on all of his fingers are rings with gaudy-looking gems.

「Yes, I have certainly received them as promised, King Busco.」

Shaking the offered hand without any hesitation is Wilhelmina.

「Now that you have allied with my fleet, it won’t be long until you conquer the Central plains」

The man named Busco hangs onto her hand for an unnecessarily long period of time, yet Wilhelmina’s expression doesn’t change one bit.

「That would be ideal. However, we’re dealing with Goldonia here. They are not an opponent one can easily defeat.」

「Wahaha! What are you saying after bringing down Trisnia!? Arkland is about to fall as well, am I right?」

Wilhelmina doesn’t affirm or deny the man’s statement, simply maintaining her surface-level smile.

「Anyway, as promised, after defeating Goldonia, you will――」

「Yes,I will aid King Busco and annihilate the city states. Their entire domain will be under your control.」

Excited at the prospect, Busco dances, his excess fat jiggling as he does so.

「After three hundred years, the king who unites the city states will be…… gufufu. On that occasion, I will cut off the limbs of that stupid musclehead, then violate his wife and children before killing them all in front of him……」

Wilhelmina clears her throat softly.

「As a king, you must be busy. I too have to hear the report of the current state of battle.」

「Oh right! Then I will be eagerly awaiting the news of Arkland’s fall!」

Wilhelmina watches Busco take his leave, the extra flubber hanging over his waistline shaking with every step he took, and it wasn’t until the king disappeared from sight before Zaphnes appears from behind her.

「It’s rare to find such a straightforward sleazebag.」

「Yes, the feeling is akin to discovering a jewel in mud. ――water.」

Wilhelmina pours water over her hand.

「Is it really necessary to cooperate with that lowlife? It’ll all be over once Arkland falls.」

「If we use him, we can win without taking down the city. We’ll play the hands we can play. ――soap.」

The scent of herbs wafts in the air from the bubbles.

「Goldonia won’t expect us to move ships on the North Teries river. At this moment, Stura and Magrado are also on the verge of collapse. We only need to land and gaining total control will be like taking candy from a baby.」

「And then Goldonia will have to be wary of a possible landing throughout the entire northern region. ――perfume.」

A strong scented product, not normally used by Wilhelmina, is applied and the fragrance quickly spreads.

「――So, what will you do about the promise with that pig?」

「Kill him once the plan has reached a certain stage. He’ll fall for any trap involving luxurious food, stunning women or money.」

「That much is clear…… by the way, do you think I’m a good man compared to that guy?」

「Would it make you happy if I said you were better?」

「……no.」

「The report detailing Arkland’s fall has not arrived yet? Send out a messenger and confirm its status.」

The battle progresses on.