To Ismalia Castle
Now that we had achieved victory on the battlefield, we would surround Ismalia castle.
While we had inferior numbers, the enemy’s morale was low, and as long as the enemy stayed inside, we should be able to succeed.
After saying this, Toshizou, who had returned from the field, questioned me.
“Master, what is the goal of the Ashtaroth army now? Is it a siege, where we wait for them to starve? Or are we going to force our way in? Which is it?”
“We could burn the surrounding town first.”
“That won’t happen. My master isn’t that kind of person.”
“Well, that’s true. I don’t like to cause chaos.”
I said jokingly. And then I told them my plan.
“Indeed, we could starve them out if we surrounded them like this. However, they would likely be able to survive for at least three months. In the meantime, other Demon Kings will start to target my lands. And the other human countries might come to the count’s aid.”
“Yes, we cannot predict how the situation will change.”
“Should we force our way in then? It will mean heavy losses on both sides.”
“That would be fine if Ismalia castle was an important place, strategically speaking. But it really isn’t worth that much. Besides, I don’t have enough men to hold it.”
“Then what will you do?”
“I’m going to allow Count Ismalia to borrow it. Unfortunately, without interest.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m going to go and negotiate, forcing him to accept terms that will be advantageous to us. Yes, an anti-war pact and the opening of the border. Also, an offering of resources and gold.”
“So you’re going to end this peacefully.”
“Yes. I want him to surrender.”
I said. But Eve had some complaints.
“While it is good that you will force them to surrender, I am against the idea of you going to negotiate in person, master.”
“Wait. Who said that I was going?”
“But, of course, you are?”
“And I am against it. Count Ismalia is desperate. He may not be able to make rational decisions, and attack you.”
“It could happen. However, he is more likely to attack a messenger.”
“So you would rather be cut yourself?”
“Eve. The only reason that my men are willing to put their lives on the line and fight, is because I am always leading them at the front. Because I go on these dangerous missions. And I cannot change that now.”
“Very well. In that case, I will go with you.”
“I cannot allow that. But as I know that it will be dangerous, I will take Toshizou, Jeanne, and Robin with me. Each of them is worth a thousand men.”
Before Eve could say anything, Jeanne opened her mouth.
“You complain too much, maid. You should have seen how the Demon King practically abandoned me. He wouldn’t even take me to Ismalia castle, and I’ve only just reunited with him now.”
Jeanne puffed up her cheeks in an angry expression.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
I had forgotten about her completely. But I was not stupid enough to tell her this.
And so I tried to console her.
“It’s because you fought so bravely outside, that security was weakened. It helped us.”
“Exactly. Kotaro told me that you had been arrested, and it angered me so much that I started a guerrilla fight in the castle town.”
Jeanne said proudly.
“But I didn’t disturb any of the civilians. I only wreaked havoc at the guard houses.”
“What a bold saint you are. Well, as you can see, I’ll be taking people from my army who are practically monsters. So don’t worry.”
I doubted that Eve was satisfied by this, but she probably didn’t want to cause too much of a scene here. And so she ultimately agreed.
I then changed into formal clothing at Eve’s suggestion, and then was about to head to Ismalia castle. However, I was stopped.
And by someone I was not expecting.
The person appeared like the wind, and with the same swiftness, told us the facts.
“Ismalia castle has just fallen. It was taken by a mysterious group that appeared from the underground.”
When I looked up, there was indeed smoke rising from Ismalia castle.
The gates were opened, and soldiers were running away.
“What does this mean, master?”
It was unusual to see Eve so uncertain. Aside from me, only Toshizou seemed to have an idea of what was happening.
This was clearly related to the old man we had met.
That old man who had helped us had likely attacked the castle. From below…
However, even then, it was much too fast. He may have been a great fighter, but I had no idea what he was like as a commander. Surely there must be someone else behind this bold attack on the castle.
Besides, you would need a lot of soldiers as well.
Soldiers didn’t just appear out of thin air. There must be some kind of trick to it, as well as someone who commands them.
However, there was no point in thinking about it here.
And so I quickly had to change my strategy.
“There will be no negotiations with Count Ismalia now. Instead, I will go and help him.”
“You’re going to help him so he will owe you a debt?”
“He is not the kind of person who will feel indebted.”
Toshizou muttered. Still, I did not feel like abandoning the count to his fate.
“While the count and his daughter have treated us quite poorly, that is not enough to abandon them. Besides, politically speaking, the count is more useful to me if he’s alive.”
“Now that the castle has fallen, you have the perfect reason to seize it.”
“Exactly. And from here, we will go out in full force. All Hero Commanders will participate.”
I said, and Toshizou, Jeanne, Robin and Kotaro all nodded.
Eve started to roll up the sleeves of her maid uniform, and so I had to remind her that she was staying. She looked very disappointed.
But she did not complain any further, and then brought mine and Toshizou’s swords.
We accepted them.
Toshizou lovingly strapped his sword to his belt. He really had been feeling lonely without it.
“Alright, now we have the power of a thousand men. Each of you should take at least a hundred heads.”
The Heroes all smiled. But the way that Toshizou smiled made me think that he would cut down a thousand.
But I had no time to dwell on such thoughts. I patted him on the shoulder, and then we headed towards Ismalia castle.