Fifteen days passed.
Recently, we’ve been receiving reports that the undead force was only four or five days away.
The most important task, improving the battlefield north of Sutherland, was going swimmingly.
A vast plain expanded over north of Sutherland, and so the undead could use their numbers to attack from all sides without giving us any time to rest. Accordingly, we would gather up the undead in one place and cast them into oblivion with various traps.
More specifically, we would use the classic pitfall. It was a piece of cake to make the pitfalls since we could use high-class and special-class earth magic, and we obviously devised several tricks to make sure the undead really ate shit.
Still, there would still be many that would advance without triggering the traps, but we could just leave those to the army, aka the expeditionary force. We’re paying them a lot of money, after all; it’d be a waste to not work them hard.
The main ingredient this time was gunpowder.
First, we were already producing nitroglycerin, one of the materials for gunpowder, over at Sagami Co. We used ethanol fermentation on sugar and dunked its by-product into alkali to get glycerin. If we then reacted that with nitric acid, we’d get nitroglycerin. We were making it in a factory, so the manufacturing process had already started, and we would be able to make enough in time for the battle.
On the other hand, the trigger itself didn’t need to be all that technological. Basically, it would be sufficient to drop all the undead into a pit before setting off all the explosions. Thus we ran several wires over the ground and used the primitive method of making the explosions go off after a certain amount of pressure was applied to the wires. Even if the explosions didn’t go off for any reason, we could just explode them manually with wind series or flame series magic. Finally, we completed it by using earth magic to make a lid over the pitfalls.
In regard to the gunpowder, Sagami Co. focused all efforts, working day and night before finally producing the minimum amount of dynamite just yesterday in order to conduct the test. Everything would be finally completed once we set up the dynamite tonight,.
Next was Aquido and his group’s training.
They had two roles to serve in this battle: attract enough undead to the trap zones and exterminate any undead that survived the explosions.
Time was running low, so we trained them specifically in anti-undead tactics. As a result, every member managed to acquire and master high-rank holy magic effective against undead.
However, I didn’t teach any other types of magic to Roche and the kids of his older sister, Lyase. Those kids misinterpreted bravery for recklessness, and if I gave them magic solely used to fight the undead, they’d definitely push it too far and end up losing their lives.
Honestly, it was already enough worry about Satella and the others; if my worries piled any higher a hole would open up in my stomach.
As a side note, either Satella or I managed the teleportation with The Scarlet Phoenix at first, but Aquido soon acquired the title, “――――’s subordinate,” and became able to teleport to a certain degree like the others, so I handed the job over to him.
—At Sagami Co’s restaurant — 《The Silver Knife》.
“Good work these past couple of days, everyone,” I said. “Tonight I want everyone to eat and drink to their hearts content to build up your willpower. Now, prosit!”
Everyone cheered to my words and clinked their glasses together.
As we approached the climax of setting up the traps in Sutherland, I had first thought we would celebrate with just the expeditionary force, but the other participants in the war had heard about the get-together, turning the celebration into a large banquet hosted by Sagami Co.
“Yep, a cold beer after work really is the best!” Leroy said as he downed an entire mug of beer.
“You’ll destroy your body if you drink like that, Master,” one of his disciples chided.
As if Leroy didn’t hear a single thing, he continued to down one after another in a chipper mood.
Actually, he’s drinking beer like it’s water. I prefer a more mellowness to my drinks, so I really don’t want to get roped in with people like him.
Well, I have my hands full with protecting these kids, so that shouldn’t happen any time soon.
“Now, Grey-sama. Don’t just eat meat; I’ve got vegetables as well. You’re still growing right now so please finish your plate,” said the girl wearing a maid outfit next to me as she placed a mound of vegetables and meat on my plate in a 7:3 ratio, all while beaming.
“No, uh. Satella, today’s a banquet,” I protested, “I should be fine for a day at least.”
Satella has recently been interested in nutritional science, and it was just my luck that she started taking classes on that. Just like before, she’s been strict on my food intake every day. I want to at least eat my fill while we’re having yakiniku.
“No! I, Satella, am in charge of your meals!”
She’s persistent. Once she’s said something she won’t listen to anything else; I guess I have no other choice but to listen to her.
“Okay, okay. Thanks, Satella,” I said.
“Sure!” she beamed as I patted her head. For a while in front of me, Lilinor stared at Satella, whose eyes were happily narrowed like a puppy, but soon steeled herself and asked, “Grey, I’ll give you some too. Satella, what should I take?”
“Um, so you see—” Satella said as she expertly began instructing Lilinor.
Lilinor clumsily picked up a pair of chopsticks and began trying to pick up meat and vegetables from the pot. It didn’t go very well, but she somehow ended up grabbing one of the foods Satella had told her to.
“Here you go, Grey,” Lilinor said.
“Thank you, Lily.”
She faltered for a moment before leaning her head towards me, so I softly patted her head as well.
“Hehe.” Lilinor let out a bashful laugh as her faced blushed. Geez, what a child.
Still, when did Satella and Lilinor get this close?
No, not just them—everyone else was congenially enjoying their food and exchanging drinks with each other.
Just a month ago, an impassable wall towered between Tote and the Scarlet Phoenix. It should have taken at least several years to break that down.
And yet between them was trust and love, as if they had known each other for years.
Soon, it turned to 9 pm. The emperor would worry if I had Lilinor stay any longer, and it was about time for Satella and the other kids to go to bed. I should wrap up the first banquet here.
The war quickly approached, so I should have the adults about to risk their lives fighting keep in moderation before we celebrate with an afterparty.
“Let’s start wrapping things up here. Don’t drink too much, guys,” I said before turning to Lilinor. “You should go back too.”
“Is it already that time?” Lilinor asked as she looked at Satella and Carla with reluctance.
“Once our work progresses to the next step, I’ll open up another banquet. Just be patient until then,” I said.
“Okay!” she cheerfully nodded before I escorted her back to the emperor.
Currently, I was heading back to the Millard tent alongside my bodyguard, Zem.
Incidentally, having even Aquido accompany as well would surely adversely affect the after party, so I had just Zem escort me. In the first place, I shouldn’t even need a guard if we’re looking solely at ability.
“Thanks, Grey,” Zem said.
“Hm?” I immediately responded—there wasn’t any reason to thank me after all.
“Thanks to you, we’re slowly recovering the pride that we had once lost.”
Pride, huh. In order to protect that pride, they went against that shitty noble’s orders. And yet that only served to slowly eat away at the pride they held so dearly.
It was just as Count Hartwig had said: there was no correct choice there. In a sense, their choice was mistaken, and in another sense, it was just.
But that’s exactly why I supported them: they always do what they think is best.
“While I’m on the topic of thanking you, I need to tell you something,” Zem said, although I already knew what he wanted to say.
“What is it?”
“Aquido might have said he didn’t regret anything, but I personally think that we made a mistake,” Zem confessed. “At the very least, we should have fallen back at that time.”
Certainly, I hired them because I was interested in Aquido’s frankness, but that didn’t mean I denied Zem’s line of thought.
Aquido was an idealist, of sorts. He highly valued anything that he deemed with merit and acted based on that, even if it wouldn’t bring anything back. And the members of the Scarlet Phoenix idolize and follow him for that—that’s the kind of hopeless idiots they are.
“Grey. You see, I don’t care about any ideals anymore; I’m just tired of seeing my family being despised and scorned.”
In order to follow through on their ideals, they had to give up on receiving the proper acknowledgement that they should have. Zem, who came to witness this truth in person, became downhearted and probably couldn’t let it slide.
“That’s why—From now on, I’ll use every last bit of power to eliminate anything that might possibly hold my family back,” Zem said. “Even if that causes everyone to disparage us and gossip behind our backs even more.”
“I got it. You’re fine that way. Just follow what you believe in.”
“Yeah, I’ll do that.” Zem nodded in satisfaction before he resumed walking with a smile on his face.
You can’t guess what people will do in an emergency until it comes. It should have been plenty fine to look back at everything after the fact; there was no need to go out of his way and declare his beliefs to his employer.
Maybe the last time he was in a similar situation, Zem had thought, “Next time, I’ll do it right.” Maybe he had wished for another chance.
“Zem, as I thought. You’re the older brother,” I said.
“What are you saying? Should I be happy? Or should I get angry?”
“How about asking Aquido about that?”
Zem just shrugged in response before he started walking once again, but this time in silence.
↑ Previously translated as projet. I had thought this was just a word the author made up for the world, but it’s an actual term that is basically just used during toasts.
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