There were no strong winds outside, and as the dark night spread out before us in silence, white snow fell and piled up.
After the date had changed, although there were still several hours before the sun rose, we devoted approximately two hours to covert operations within the Royal Castle just like the other day.
Just like we did last time, those who excelled at covert operations, such as the Ninja Kobolds and the goblins from my generation with small builds, slipped into the Royal Castle under the cover of darkness. Their work was simple, with the aim of gradually reducing the n.o.bles Faction's private soldiers by having them disappear while they were patrolling.
Of course, I didn't do such troublesome and roundabout work. I was in the secret bas.e.m.e.nt ma.s.s-producing clones, which can be treated as expendable troops. If I were to keep creating Black Skeletons and Black Ogres, I might be able to easily crush the Strong Grandson to death with an overwhelming number of them.
Since I can supply myself with magic by using 【Absorb Magic】 to absorb it from the darkness, my internal magic supply is nearly endless, unless I act very rashly. In the first place, it's been proven that I'm able to prepare approximately 5,000 black skeletons using just my internal magic supply.
I'm not worried about materials either, since I can easily secure water for my clones.
I was cooperating with Kanami-chan, who has the 【Intermediate Summoning: Undead】 ability, in order to summon several Black Skeleton Commanders. They're a higher ranking species of Black Skeleton, whose summoning restrictions are lifted by consuming one of its kind. If I were to do this alone, a moderate amount of time would be necessary, but it is feasible enough to prepare more than 10,000 soldiers through synthesis with her help.
The black skeletons that the Commanders summon are an uncertain factor, since their attributes deteriorate across the board when compared with the ones I have summoned. I also have to take into account that, since most of them are undead, even if I were to prepare 10,000 soldiers, most of them would quickly disappear once the sun starts to rise.
However, despite all of that, they still adequately satisfy the standards necessary for them to be treated as expendable troops. It's not necessary for us to pay too much attention to this weakness though, since it's still several hours before the sun rises.
For that reason alone, it's very easy to pulverize the opponent with an overwhelming number of forces.
Since 【Fire】, 【Holy Light】 and 【Blunt Force】 from blunt weapons are all well known weaknesses of monsters of the skeleton variety, they're likely to be dealt with immediately, so the number of skeletons alone will be helpful.
Even if they were to adopt measures to oppose them, if 10,000 Black Skeleton ranked monsters were to launch a surprise attack from the inside, there aren't any fortresses that would not fall.
That's why, since the core of the enemy, the Strong Grandson and Sly Old Fox, have gathered in one place, I have no doubt that this is the perfect opportunity to launch an attack on them.
Although most of the main force, such as Minokichi-kun, Supesei-san, Asue-chan and Gurufu-chan aren't here, our forces are still above a certain level. We can replenish them by ma.s.s-summoning more troops, as well.
That's why I chose a strategy that slowly erodes their forces from the inside, since it's almost always a combination of strategy and the current situation that allows one to obtain victory.
The main reason this method was selected is because it suited what my employer, the Tomboy Princess, wanted.
The pretext for this is――
『I want you to keep the damage to the castle to a minimum. Since it's a symbol of the Kingdom, I want you to do as much as you can to avoid defiling it with blood, as well as destroying it with your absurd power. When it comes to the Strong Grandson, it won't end with just a simple a.s.sa.s.sination, you know. You don't need to take them directly head-on, but it's necessary to make it known ,both on the inside and the outside, that their troops suffered a crus.h.i.+ng defeat.』
――or so I was told.
I certainly understand what she's getting at, but that's difficult for us.
For the Tomboy Princess, she has her honor as a blood relative of those standing at the Sternbild Kingdom's summit to uphold.
It's necessary for her to display far and wide that she possesses the military power to force the n.o.bles that rebelled to yield, but it cannot be done in such a way that will cause her to be treated with contempt.
Since they have gained control of the Royal Castle and nearly all members of the royal family, it might be possible for them to have an impact on the future of the Sternbild Kingdom's administration. For that reason, even if we a.s.sa.s.sinated the top members of the n.o.bles Faction that caused the coup d'etat, it's very likely that those who remain will not give up yet and will begin to act recklessly.
If that happens, it will inevitably become troublesome.
Once they've been delivered a crus.h.i.+ng defeat, it'll be necessary to clearly determine the outcome. Otherwise, after the civil war ends and we leave, the n.o.bles will end up having more power than they currently do and a coup d'etat will be more likely to occur again.
Most importantly, their reckless actions will influence the Sternbild Kingdom's territories and cause quite a bit of unrest. There would be an increase in the occurrence of thieves and barbarians as well, possibly coming from other countries. On top of all of that, allies of other nations might use this opportunity to create chaos so that neighboring countries, such as the Kirika Empire and so on, can attempt to use various pretexts to divide and rule the Sternbild Kingdom.
Since the very young, cute and scheming Princess intends to become the Kingdom's ruler, she wants to avoid this.
These are my employer's intentions, so it can't be helped.
The Tomboy Princess thoroughly surrounded the exterior of the Royal Capital with the powerful forces of the Duke's family, which are mostly made up of many 【Infantry】, 【Cavalry】 which ride beasts such as war horses, and so on. There were various branches of service in his army, and they numbered approximately 5,000 in total. While his forces were threatening and putting pressure on the rebels from the outside, we were poking around inside as we worked hard to reduce their forces and create distrust amongst them.
I'll be surprised if their morale doesn't fall after this, but if it doesn't happen, I will have no choice but to recognize the leaders.h.i.+p ability of the Strong Grandson and his allies.
Well, since the current situation is progressing without any problems, I don't think any mistakes will be made.
Currently, the Royal Castle is packed with a maximum of around 3,000 of the Strong Grandson's troops. Although there are many more forces prepared and on standby in the territories of the n.o.bles, this is how many exist within the castle.
There are always around 300 of the most elite of them guarding the key people within the 【n.o.bles Faction】, such as the Strong Grandson and Sly Old Fox.
Even the weakest of these 300 possess at least three battle system 【Jobs】, so their overall combat ability is quite high. This makes them at least equal to the Rusty Iron Knight when he led his forces into the vast forest that was our birthplace, with only the influential people being stronger than him.
Many of these people carry the 【Divine Protection of a DemiG.o.d】, though there are a few that carry the 【Divine Protection of a G.o.d】, as well.
If I were to say more, some are almost 【Heroes】 and 【Great Heroes】 and may possibly be 【Legendary Heroes in the Making】. To speak badly of them, 【Heroes】 and 【Great Heroes】 are chosen because of their superior abilities and the fact that a 【G.o.d】 is fond of their personality, so those who don't have strong willpower fail to become one.
Thanks to the results of this talented group's habitual training, they've become one huge group that won't have their coordinated movements disturbed. For this reason, it can't be helped that it will be a tough fight.
If I don't use group members that are stronger than Black Skeletons against them, there's a high possibility that I won't be able to kill them.
If I pressure them with an overwhelming amount of skeletons, something along the lines of 100 or 1,000 per individual, it shouldn't be impossible to crush them by attacking relentlessly without giving them time to coordinate their attacks. I'll need to be careful though, since there will be a pointless increase in damage if we simply take a brute force approach.
Well, I'm thankful that their movements will be easy to read, since they aren't likely to stray far from the Strong Grandson and his allies.
Although the roughly 2,700 remaining soldiers have all reached at least a certain level thanks to their daily training, they don't seem to be as strong as the rest.
We can reduce the damage if I put pressure on them with at least two Black Skeletons per person, while at the same time easily killing their weaker members.
It would be nice for us to defeat them head-on using a difference in our number of forces, but we won't waste such a plan here.
Of course, the enemy's weapons, coordination, topography and affinity may make for some difficult fights, but I think it's alright to conclude that they shouldn't be a threat unless there's a large incident.
Even if it's not possible to kill them with my Black Skeletons, I can disregard the damage to the Royal Castle and, as a last resort, use my 【Human Bomb】 ability at the same time as my skeletons to change humans or humanoid monsters into bombs in order to win the battle.
It makes me s.h.i.+ver when I put myself in my opponent's shoes since, among other things, I could turn groups of Black Skeletons into bombs and have them explode with a high probability of killing the people within a diameter of several meters.
Although the Black Skeletons alone may make it troublesome for the enemy, when they think the skeletons have been defeated they will suddenly create an explosion that is difficult for them successfully defend against. On top of that, there will be a higher number of black bones that are sent flying at the time of the explosion. The damage from this should not be taken lightly.
The black bones that had exploded and scattered would disappear a short time later, and if they are plugging up someone's wounds when they do so, the possibility of the person dying from blood loss if they aren't quickly treated increases. This isn't any consolation, though.
Even though I would carry out this plan myself, I most likely wouldn't see the results as anything but tragic.
Of course, even though the bombs are capable of randomly exploding as long as the conditions are met, when I take into consideration the risk and return of using this tactic, I still wouldn't hesitate to do so.
For that reason, it's certainly not the the enemy forces' 300 elite soldiers that I need to be the most wary of.
What I should be most wary of are the two Heroes that are lending their power to the n.o.bles Faction for their own reasons, as well as the nine people that are their 【Companions／Sub-Cast】.
The Rock Hero, who has a long military record and has survived many battlefields, is lending them his a.s.sistance in order to return a favor that he received from the dead Minister personally. However, I can say with confidence that he is the most troublesome of the two, since he thinks that I'm the criminal that killed the Minister. Still, if I look at the whole picture, the Water Hero is quite an uncertain factor in the war, since he is fighting for the sake of his family that's being held hostage.
Well, perhaps I should say that he's dangerous, instead.
The Water Hero was originally a farmer just like Avenger. His family appears to have been cultivating an inferior plot of land, and it was difficult for them to grow crops. For that reason, there was not a surplus for his family and he appears to have lived a considerably poor life since childhood. Despite this, his family and their neighbors cooperated with one another and they were somehow able to survive.
However, when the Water Hero was ten years old, the Lord that governs the land collected more taxes than usual, which caused poverty to accelerate as he took advantage of his position to fill his own pockets with money.
The Water Hero that was always poor, his family, and the villagers who survived by cooperating with one another were in a troubled state over what to eat that day. When times were at their worst, they would chew on the roots of the withered gra.s.s in order to survive.
However, one day he received the 【Divine Protection of a G.o.d】, which caused his life to improve just like Avenger's had. After some time pa.s.sed, he went to attend a school in the Royal Capital.
As a result of his vigorous work every day so that he could support his family, he graduated with very good grades. He entered the military after that and officially became the 【Hero of Quivering Water】 shortly afterwards. Then, using his own influence, he killed the Lord that had tormented him and his family with his own hands.
When he did so, he made sure to torment the Lord with a small taste of the suffering that they had gone through by slowly cutting the tips of his hands and feet off, while only giving him the bare minimum amount of food and water necessary to survive. I heard that the Water Hero put the Lord through a lot of torture, keeping him on the border between life and death.
To sum it up in a few words, the Water Hero has a fairly extreme nature, which doesn't match his ordinary appearance. I realize that I'm repeating this, but the reason the Water Hero serves the country is so that he can support his family.
Therefore, he has no loyalty at all for the country and the royal family. Instead, he might even feel hatred towards them and as a result, probably wouldn't have a problem killing them.
It seems he'll do anything if it's for work, so the Water Hero is said to have the role of removing the Sternbild Kingdom's obstacles head-on, whereas the Dark Hero does so from the shadows.
Typical of personalities like the Water Hero's, he will struggle to the death for the sake of saving his precious family. For that reason, I guess it's not very hard to imagine him coming to kill the Tomboy Princess.
This is because one of the opponent's victory conditions is her death.
By the way, given that the Water Hero's specialty is widespread attacks that make use of vibrating water, I'm certain that he would completely eradicate the Black Skeletons if he acted violently in the places where they had gathered together unskillfully.
If I'm not stingy with my abilities for the time being and I pair up with Kanami, I'm confident that we could completely defeat both of the 【Hero】's parties, even if we fought them at the same time. However, the fight will definitely drag on if we do that, and there's no way of knowing what would happen on the battlefield.
There's no way it would feel good if we were tripped up by an unexpected occurrence, though.
For the time being, it's been decided that the only people holding these guys back are the two of us. Since that's the case, I'll set this matter aside for now and focus on adapting to the circ.u.mstances we find ourselves in.
With the exception of the Heroes, the Strong Grandson and his allies most likely have a trump card, though I can't describe it since I have yet to confirm its existence.
I'm not sure why I thought they had one, but if the Heroes alone are normally enough, then it's probably safe to say that the probability of that being the case is low.
As long as an unexpected wild card doesn't appear, I think that things should progress more or less as I planned, but it's hard to say what will actually happen in the end.
If they do have a trump card, I think we'll probably still be able to pull it off with the same tactic we're using for the others, but I'm going to be cautious about it so that this doesn't result in a loss for us.
I don't think we'll make progress very easily, but it's for the best if they don't have anything like that.
Well, that should give a rough idea of the enemy's war potential and their current status, anyway.
Now, about work. For the time being, since the Strong Grandson and his allies understood that the morale of the soldiers and n.o.bles would be affected if the a.s.sa.s.sinations continued, they began to adopt various countermeasures against them.
The soldiers patrolling the Royal Castle at night had a.s.sembled into groups of three, according to the instructions that they had previously been given. The standard group was three people, but they a.s.sembled into groups of five when there were cowardly n.o.bles with them, and there were sporadic instances of ten soldiers grouping together in order to go around with large families, as well.
In addition, the last time we were here, the heavy security that was spread around the Royal Castle was wearing protective gear that was close to cloth armor, which had a gaudy appearance that emphasized that it was ornamental. However, they would die with that sort of armor, so their gear was upgraded and they were now wearing metal body armor, hand and wrist guards, and so on.
As one would expect, since it would make them sluggish during these times, people aren't equipping the troublesome metal armor from head to toe just to work. Instead, they appear to have subst.i.tuted the missing pieces with accessories such as earrings and rings, which are magic items that possess abilities that increase a person's defensive capabilities.
Suspended at the soldier's waist are a longsword and dagger, and in one hand they held a magic item which had a shape similar to a compa.s.s combined with a lantern, which plays a role similar to a motion sensor and also emits light.
According to the Boy Knight, this magic item appears to be called a "Beacompa.s.s." It's quite an expensive item, but its performance is guaranteed. As for the Beacompa.s.s' characteristics, it doesn't just detect moving things, but it also appears to react to the life force of creatures. It's only effective in a 180 degree arc in front of the item though, since it excludes the item's owner and people that are behind them from being counted as enemy targets when it searches.
For that reason, it's very difficult to conceal oneself from it.
Nevertheless, even though their body was wrapped in a substantial amount of equipment, they were staring intensely at the Beacompa.s.s' needle with bloodshot eyes every time there was the slightest movement of the needle point. They would then let out a sigh of relief the moment they understood that it was just the wind causing the tree leaves to move. However, the hand that they always had on their sword's hilt was trembling slightly out of fear.
They looked just like people that were in a situation where they were being hunted, though this actually was the case.
This is because a decisive opening is created when they depend on a magic item to search for their enemy instead of their own senses.
In response to this, I put a group of six people on the enemy's standard groups of three.
Although the Beacompa.s.s is an excellent item for detecting moving objects and living things, the item's structure makes it difficult for its needle to move up and down. This is because it's normally enough for it to simply detect horizontal movement.
For that reason, in the thin shadows that occurred in the corners of the pa.s.sage's high ceiling, there were people wearing armor called 【Black Bone Living Mail】, which is created by weaving together durable cloth and the bodies of three Black Skeletons with 【Bone Union】. When they use the armor's eight spider-like legs that had grown on its back to cling to the ceiling, the reaction from the Beacompa.s.s becomes very weak.
Once we knew of this weak point, it was a simple matter to make use of surprise attacks to hunt them without making a single sound.
Having said that, if a soldier had used their own senses to search for the enemy, they should have been able to hear the small noises that the rubbing of the bone armor made as it moved, as well as the breathing of the goblins.
However, because they were only relying on the Beacompa.s.s, their ability to search for the enemy had been reduced. I have to say I've had just about enough of challenging people whose awareness hasn't increased at all.
Nevertheless, with our people acting in groups of six, they weren't able to hunt the same number of targets in the same amount of time as before. This can't be helped though, since the enemy's true colors have yet to be seen.
For that reason, from our work this time, approximately thirty six private soldiers from the Royal Castle quietly disappeared from this world. There were six n.o.bles who had private residences in the Royal Capital that were killed in their homes with the same poison that killed the Minister, as well.
Just like before, the poisoned n.o.bles were not major people like the Strong Grandson, people that depended on reading the situation themselves, people that joined in because of the decree of the leaders of families that are affiliated with the n.o.bles Faction, or people that reluctantly joined because of a friendly invitation or something along those lines. Instead, they were people that had been added to the lower ranks for various reasons.
Incidentally, there was advanced notice of the next murder written on the carpet that was spread over the floor where the bodies of the n.o.bles had fallen, on the luxurious clothes that they were wearing, or on the walls where there were traces of blood because they had been leaned on. These notices, which were written in dark red paint that was a mix of the n.o.ble's blood and a special material, said, "Who on earth will become the next sack of poison?"
The notices stood out even if it was dark because the special material that was mixed into the paint made it s.h.i.+ne mysteriously. As time pa.s.sed their blood dripped and formed tracks, creating an even more bizarre atmosphere.
It was a scene that caused the maids and butlers to scream when they saw it.
The mood that said they feared the criminal that wrote the notices was beneficial, as well.
At that point, the night ended as the sun began to rise. Shortly before sunrise, there began to be active movement within the Royal Castle and the n.o.bles District.
These noises included the footsteps of knights busily going to and coming from the Royal Castle and the royal guards that were mainly following them, the low-pitched sound of military officers boldly issuing orders to their subordinates, the small tones of the tableware resounding as maids carried breakfast to their masters, and the working noise of a great number of soldiers and wagons transporting goods.
All of these sounds were related to preparations with regards to the Tomboy Princess' approaching army.
However, the Strong Grandson's preparations appeared to be advancing somewhat on schedule, since they were almost fully completed yesterday.
The orders handed down from the top were accepted without issue, so there was little confusion.
Thanks to their speedy preparations, it can be said that they were almost finished the arrangements for the upcoming battle. Normally, it would have taken a bit more time to finish these preparations.
By the way, with regards to the previously mentioned preparations, the reason a significant number of forces were able to be a.s.sembled in a short time is because the Strong Grandson and his allies' forces, which had been left behind in the n.o.bles' territories, had tamed Wyverns and Griffins deliver written instructions to them via airmail.
Once they are ready, the number of soldiers alone will slightly exceed that of the Tomboy Princess' army. Furthermore, the combined armies of the n.o.bles are rounded out by the two Heroes that are supporting them.
The Dark Hero has gone somewhere with the First Queen, and it looks like the Wood Hero is going to carefully observe the state of affairs related to the coup d'etat on this occasion.
Therefore, regarding their fear of being a.s.sa.s.sinated, almost the entire enemy side was filled with an atmosphere that said that there was no reason that they couldn't win.
During this time, information spread saying that more n.o.bles had been a.s.sa.s.sinated.
My report reached the Strong Grandson and Sly Old Fox first, who issued a gag order with the hope that it would prevent morale from dropping. However, since the actual truth was circulated anyway, the information had spread quickly.
It looks like they came to the conclusion that it was a bad idea to conceal any further information that came here about n.o.bles being a.s.sa.s.sinated. However, concerning the advanced notice written in blood, it was suppressed to the point that it was only vaguely circulated. It wasn't entirely hidden, but it was superbly regulated so that a fair number of people didn't know about it, even though they could have found out if they tried to do so.
Although the information didn't remain hidden, troop morale didn't drop much.
It would have caused troop morale to drop either way, but it still seems to be better than all of the members knowing everything from the very beginning. The reason I say this is that people would think that those who didn't gather information were lacking in ability, since they would have learned about the notices if they had done so.
With the gag order issued, my plans were thrown off and I had to change them, since I was in a situation where I was trying to find a suitable time to circulate the information.
Anyway, since the atmosphere around the n.o.bles Faction was heavy, which was more or less in accordance with my objectives, that's all I'll say about that.
I wanted to bring the truth up in the rebellion at a fatal moment, but if it creates distrust among them in any way, it should be enough.
As expected of the Strong Grandson and his allies, since they were able to grasp the situation, it seems that they were able to come up with countermeasures somehow or another. However, I'm ready to outwit them every time this happens because of the information gathering abilities of my clones.
It looks like their preparations will be finished today.
The Strong Grandson and his allies are being cautious of us and won't attack the Tomboy Princess' army from the cover of the Royal Capital's walls. Instead, they appear to have decided to crush them head-on at the plains that are exactly midway between her army and the capital.
They aren't using any sort of plan, but instead chose to use pure strength to defeat them.
The Tomboy Princess' forces will almost certainly be defeated if they do this.
Since not only do the n.o.bles Faction have superior numbers, but also higher quality soldiers because of the existence of the Heroes, the Tomboy Princess' army would not be able to win in a direct confrontation with them.
Even if they make good use of strategy and tactics, I don't know what will happen to the forces that encounter one of the Heroes, which would be the Water Hero and his party in this case.
It may be possible for them to avoid defeat somehow, but it would be better to not expect much.
In the first place, since we should think about recapturing the Royal Castle before anything else, I don't have much interest in what happens to them.
Well, it should be alright, since I took out some insurance on the Tomboy Princess's army.
Even if they are defeated, they shouldn't be completely destroyed.
【World Psalms [Legend of the Black Eclipse Demon], Chapter 4 【Encouragement of a Kingdom's Revolution】, Verse 6 【Final Castle Crawl (Lulu Iera)】 has been completed. The following hidden conditions were cleared: ≪Castle's Night of Terror≫ and ≪Creeping Malice≫】
It seems that the heavens don't favor the Strong Grandson.
More than thirty centimeters of snow had fallen by the time morning came, and the depth is increasing as time pa.s.ses. On top of that, there was a strong wind mixed in with the falling snow, and thick, black clouds covered the sky. This hid the sun, making the light outside dim even though it was daytime.
It's not possible for them to march in this situation.
Although they'd be able to march if they made use of magic, there would be pointless sacrifices because of things like frostbite, which would cause the rest of the troops to become demoralized.
Since the snowstorm will probably stop in a day or two, the Strong Grandson postponed the march until it pa.s.ses.
Just like the Strong Grandson, the Duke leading the Tomboy Princess's army wasn't able to march either. It wouldn't be a good thing if they had to set up tents in a snowstorm and sleep outside though, so the n.o.bles that I sent in advance, which are a part of "Gra.s.s," let the troops take shelter in the towns within their territories.
I'd say this should help a little, since we want there to be as little wear and tear on the Tomboy Princess's army as possible when they clash with the n.o.bles' army.
On a side note, it's been said that in the past it was rare for snow to fall in this season.
I heard that whenever a flying continent where a 【Wise Serpent/Dragon】 lives pa.s.ses over the skies, the King Tsumoru clouds that support it causes weather like what we're having today. These clouds, which are unique to this world, appear to have a scale that's greater than thunderclouds.
It's difficult to predict these flying continents though, since they don't show up on fixed days.
For that reason, it's just the Strong Grandson and his allies' bad luck that the King Tsumoru clouds showed up today.
There's no way that we'll pa.s.s up such a perfect opportunity, though.
Since the sunlight is conveniently blocked by thick clouds and snow, the lowest cla.s.s of undead, such as Ghosts, shouldn't be naturally purified by the environment.
Because the Tomboy Princess imposed a limitation that damage to the castle should be kept to a minimum, I was in the bas.e.m.e.nt summoning a large amount of 【Ghosts】 and their strengthened version, 【Black Ghosts】.
Ghost-type monsters can't attack with purely physical attacks, but in exchange for that, everything pa.s.ses through them, and they are invulnerable to physical attacks that don't make use of magic. This makes them the most suitable option to use, since they won't damage the castle.
I summoned approximately 4,000 Ghosts and Black Ghosts and modelled their faces after the dead n.o.bles and private soldiers.
In addition to the ghosts I had summoned, Kanami summoned approximately 2,000 strengthened 【Purple Ghosts】 using 【Intermediate Summoning: Undead】, as well.
Although normal ghosts are semi-transparent, ours were given colors such as black and purple when we summoned them. This seems to be because the Divine Protections we've obtained from our G.o.ds have had an influence on our summoning abilities. By the way, in the case of the Black Ghosts and Purple Ghosts, the black ones are stronger. However, due to the modifiers granted by 【Intermediate Summoning: Undead】, which is an ability one rank higher than mine, there doesn't seem to be a very big difference in terms of their attributes.
From the 6,000 ghosts that were summoned, I left 2,000 of the common ones behind and used 【Soul Eater】 to slurp up 4,000 of the black and purple ghosts like they were noodles.
Ability learned: 【Ghost's Touch】
Ability learned: 【Black Ghost's Touch】
Ability learned: 【Purple Ghost's Touch】
Ability learned: 【Ghost Cry】
As I expected, by eating 4,000 ghosts, it was possible for me to learn something. However, I've determined that I have to eat approximately 1,000 of them to learn one ability in my current state.
This made me wonder whether or not there was any good prey that I could gather that fills both the quality and quant.i.ty criteria.
After doing this, I became able to summon the same Purple Ghosts that Kanami-chan had summoned, because I had met the conditions to do so by consuming them.
Well, that probably doesn't mean much anyway, since I don't think that I will summon the Purple Ghosts in the future. This is because they are inferior to my Black Ghosts.
I sent the remaining 2,000 ghosts that I didn't eat into the Royal Castle.
Want to know what happened after that?
There was pandemonium.
The ghosts pa.s.sed through the walls behind people and inflicted minor negative status effects like 【Fatigue】 and 【Melancholy】 on them with their contact attack, 【Ghost's Touch】. There was almost no physical damage, but their minds took heavy damage. When soldiers were attacked by this ability, they complained about feeling sick and were taken to the medics.
When the housemaids and ladies in waiting were unlucky and saw the ghosts that had the faces of the n.o.bles and the Minister, as well as hollowed cheeks and sunken eyes, they turned pale in horror before they screamed and fainted.
Because they didn't know where the high-pitched screams of 【Ghost Cry】 were coming from, they continued to be heard inside of the Royal Castle, wearing down the minds of the people that heard them.
Overwhelmed by the large crowd of ghosts that resembled a flash flood, the excessive number of negative status effects pushed people beyond their limits, causing them to begin foaming at the mouth as they pa.s.sed out one by one.
In these conditions, quite a few things happened.
All Ghosts, including the Black Ghosts, are weak to attacks with magical properties, which makes them simple to kill. Because of this weakness, the only reason it took some time to completely destroy the Ghosts was because there was a large number of them.
Because of this, it took approximately one hour to completely destroy them.
It looked like they were more effective than I expected, so I summoned Ghosts eight times today for the purpose of a.s.saulting the Strong Grandson and his allies in the Royal Castle.
The more I summoned the ghosts to attack them, the quicker the enemy dealt with them, but the outcome was still satisfactory because it didn't give them any time to relax. Since the laughter of the ghosts could be heard throughout the night, it looks like the enemy's march in a day or two will be fairly harsh.
On my end, I took a break until each group of ghosts had been completely destroyed in order to generate and refill my magic, and then summoned them again. As a result of this, I didn't become too tired.
It was actually quite easy to do.
Today’s synthesis results:
【Ghost's Touch】 ＋ 【Black Ghost's Touch】 ＋ 【Purple Ghost's Touch】 ＝ 【Wraith Touch】
I expected the wind to blow the snow around today, but it seems that things won't be so easy for us.
It's getting warmer and there's blue sky spreading out above us, which makes it hard to believe that there was such heavy snowfall before. There's nothing obstructing the sunlight from pouring down, and the roughly 70 centimeters of snow that's covering the ground is s.h.i.+ning as the sunlight reflects off of its surface.
In addition, it's too bright to go outside, and those that do so have a hard time seeing the moment they go out.
In these conditions, the Strong Grandson, who was in command of 2,000 soldiers and the Water Hero's party, started marching towards the approaching forces of the Tomboy Princess.
The fallen snow was hindering their march, though. For this reason, they were using brute force to clear the snow by installing iron plates on the heads of several of the Boruforu leading the march. These plates had wards that granted heat emitting enchantments on them.
If the Boruforu were ma.s.sive, they vigorously cleared the snow in the same way a s...o...b..ower would.
It looks like they weren't using their internal magic supply like they would with 【Magic】 either, so the soldiers were consuming a low amount of magic. It looks like this is a cheap and quick way of clearing the snow.
As the Strong Grandson and his allies are marching in a column, they're picking up more soldiers as they pa.s.s through the territories of the n.o.bles on their way to meet the Tomboy Princess's army. It's estimated that the final number of soldiers they've put together will reach 9,000.
From the speed that both of the armies are marching at, they will meet in approximately two days time.
At any rate, I'll put the forces that have already left the Royal Capital out of my mind since they aren't worth worrying about.
One thousand private soldiers, normal soldiers, and the Rock Hero's party were left behind in the Royal Capital. More than half of the influential members of the n.o.bles Faction remained as well, including the Snake Grandfather.
The reason the influential leaders stayed behind was to take care of the work that had been delayed because of the coup d'etat. The Rock Hero's party staying behind is the result of us continuing to hara.s.s and bewilder their troops.
For that reason, the Rock Hero is currently stationed in front of the entrance to the spire that the royal family is locked up in. He has placed his favorite weapon, the battering ram ≪Hammer of Isenbal≫, at his side and is being vigilant.
He had four of his 【Companions/Sub-cast】 surrounding him and they were having a pleasant chat in order to kill time.
By the way, if I were to give a simple description of these four people――
First is the 【Torture Official】, Torturer Ikoi, a brutal man with a slender figure, thin golden hair, and silver-rimmed gla.s.ses that he wears over his golden eyes. He's wearing light armor and he has a bar that's similar to a saw with rusted nails concealed inside of his violet cloak.
The next person is the 【Large Cask Head Clerk】, Grasher Pie, a giant man with a size that's comparable to an Ogre. He's wearing full body armor that gives him a generally round form, making him look similar to a large moving barrel. He's equipped with two highly offensive, barrel-like s.h.i.+elds that are made of metal, with numerous nails attached to them that are like many blades.
Next up is the 【Indigo Blue Knight】, Christopher Bale Azurite, a good young man that has the appearance of a common knight wearing a dark blue mantle, with indigo blue colored hair and eyes, and looks that made him appear to be faithful and tough. He's wearing dark bluish green colored metal armor below his neck, with only his head being visible.
Finally, there's the 【Weeping Female Barbarian】, Jantuna Na, a crybaby Amazoness with gray eyes, long black hair, radiant dark brown skin, and full b.r.e.a.s.t.s. She's using a bow and machete as her weapons, and she's wrapped in native clothes made from beast fur that exposes a lot of her skin.
――That would about sum it up.
With the exception of the 【Indigo Blue Knight】, who looks like he's your typical n.o.ble knight both in outward appearance and on the inside, I think that the members of this group are quite strong.
For this reason, we slowly and silently invaded the castle from the inside, so that the Rock Hero's party wouldn't detect us.
Among the 1,000 private soldiers that stayed in the Royal Capital, I already took care of approximately 200 of the n.o.bles' soldiers beforehand with “Gra.s.s”, so the real enemy numbers are only around 800. The only ones that I should really be careful of are the 100 elite soldiers that stayed behind, though.
In addition, with the exception of the private soldiers, we finished winning over the normal soldiers in charge of the defense of the Royal Capital during yesterday's events. This was possible because they aren't a part of the n.o.bles Faction, but have been following them so far only because they would be killed if they didn't.
On top of getting caught up in this situation from the beginning without having any real choice in the matter, it was very easy to win them over because they had been mentally drained by yesterday's ghost attacks.
This allowed my clones to approach Snake Grandfather, as well as some others, where I easily neutralized them during their normal routines by turning them into my 【Subordinates】 through the use of 【Parasite】.
Because the 800 soldiers that remained didn't know anything about this, I was able to command them freely. With this, it looks like the rebellion is nearly over. This is really disappointing.
It was too easy, and it's regrettable that I can't even see the Snake Grandfather and the rest of the faction's last resort. It's a good thing that there's no damage to the castle, though.
However, because the Rock Hero's party is a little troublesome, they still remain a threat.
It looks like they can sense the clones when they approach unskillfully, and it's also more difficult to use 【Parasite】 on beings above a certain level.
Although it's a very convenient ability, since the strength of my clones deteriorates considerably when they're compared with the real body, there is a very low chance that they would be able to successfully use 【Parasite】 to infect Heroes, 【Great Heroes】, and their companions.
I discovered this when I experimented on the material from the Jadar Wyvern that I instantly killed in the arena.
It's likely that even if they entered their body to use 【Parasite】, if the opponent is strong enough, then they will be immune to the parasites and the clones will surely be destroyed.
Although they were able to infect the Snake Grandfather and others like him, it looks like it would be difficult for them to infect those that are at the level of the Rock Hero and his party without their consent.
For that reason, I decided to leave it to the Tomboy Princess to try and directly persuade the Rock Hero and his party tomorrow.
If they can be persuaded, I hope to acquire their loyalty for myself.
That being said, if they can't be persuaded, then we'll have to use force.
However, since the Tomboy Princess has firmly said that I'm not allowed to kill the Rock Hero and his party, I'd like to avoid fighting them if I can help it. This is simply stimulating my appet.i.te pointlessly; it's so unpleasant.
The Rock Hero's party is still on standby in front of the spire today.
By the way, the Rock Hero carries the 【G.o.d of Iron Rock's Divine Protection】. He's like a rock and he has barely moved since yesterday, except to eat and to go to the bathroom. Although it looks like he's partic.i.p.ating in conversations with his companions, he hasn't made any big movements.
The natural manner in which he has his arms placed on his legs as he sits cross-legged, as well as the atmosphere he's giving off, gives him an appearance that's similar to a great statue of Buddha in some respects.
Since it's convenient for us if he doesn't move for this, I manipulated Snake Grandfather and the others earlier and had them issue instructions to all of the private soldiers. By doing this, I was able to move each soldier to specific locations.
However, it would be unnatural if they were fully disarmed, so the soldiers were wearing a minimal amount of equipment. We were able to suppress them in no time once our preparations were complete because part of our group was on standby with each of the royal family's palace guards, and the general soldiers that had switched sides had already moved to these locations.
I used my clones to prevent the sound from escaping, so it remained quiet outside.
In this way, we were able to arrest all of the private soldiers in the Royal Castle without wasting any time. With that done, Kanami and I left for the location where the strong people, including the elites, had a.s.sembled.
While we were on our way there, we secured the n.o.bles we found that were part of the 【n.o.bles Faction】, as well.
I put them to sleep and threw them in prison so that we could deal with their punishment later. In this way, we were finished with most of the cleanup less than thirty minutes after the operation began.
With this, the Royal Castle was taken back from the n.o.bles Faction and fell into the hands of the Tomboy Princess, a member of the royal family.
After we finished cleaning up inside the castle, the fully dressed Tomboy Princess approached the spire where the Rock Hero's party was located with a ceremonial sword hanging at her waist.
The Rock Hero's party was surprised when they first saw the Tomboy Princess and narrowed their eyes in order to determine whether she was the real thing or an imitation. However, they became even more suspicious of her once they determined that she actually was the princess.
Even though they were only suspicious of her for a short amount of time, the Rock Hero stood up as he picked up his battering ram, the Hammer of Isenbal, which he had placed beside him.
That alone caused the surrounding atmosphere to creak with a heavy feeling.
The Rock Hero stood up and his four companions followed suit as they slowly approached the Tomboy Princess.
He did nothing but stare at her with an expressionless face, and his companions were doing the same thing as they waited behind him.
A strange silence filled the room to the point that you could even hear the sound of someone swallowing their saliva.
The Rock Hero's greatest trait is his raw physical attack power.
His robust body, which has been naturally polished through many years of combat, is like iron rock and the physical strength that he exhibits can rival that of a giant. Characteristic of a 【Hero】, his Combat Arts and other things like it are matchless, and the Hammer of Isenbal that he possesses has a long, pyramid shaped lump of iron similar to a battering ram installed on the tip of its long handle, which causes destruction when the weapon swung at a high speed. One time, it was slammed into the face of a 【Gem Dragon】, a species of 【Wise Serpent/Dragon】 that has attacked the Royal Capital before. The dragon's hard scales were crushed when he did this, and it's said that he even damaged its extremely strong horns.
If you only look at the raw power of his blows, he's probably stronger than Minokichi as he is right now.
With that sort of Rock Hero in front of her, I wonder what the young Tomboy Princess was thinking about.
The Boy Knight was waiting beside the Tomboy Princess just in case he's needed, but he wouldn't even be able to defeat the weakest of the Rock Hero's four companions, the Indigo Blue Knight.
There's a hopeless difference in their war potential. If he received a single blow from the Rock Hero, the only thing left behind would be a single slab of meat that had no hint of his former self.
Despite this, there were no feelings of awe to be seen on the Tomboy Princess's face as they faced each other. Still, her dignified standing posture made her look majestic as she stared at the Rock Hero with powerful intentions dwelling in her eyes.
Before long, the Rock Hero would be able to reach the Tomboy Princess if he stretched out his hand, so she drew the ceremonial sword that was hanging at her waist.
Unlike a normal sword, the ceremonial sword had a rounded tip. The length of the sword's blade made it easy for the Tomboy Princess to handle, and the s.h.i.+ne that remained on the blade did not have even a single speck of cloudiness in it.
The sword that she drew is a type of sword called a Curtana, and it's an 【Ancient】 cla.s.s magic item that possesses the 【Mercy】 and 【Condemn】 abilities.
The Rock Hero exchanged words with the Tomboy Princess that had drawn her Curtana.
Because the conversation between the two of them was long, a summary of it would be that the Rock Hero will take one attack from the Tomboy Princess without resisting.
If I were to briefly explain how it ended up like this, it would be as follows.
Since the Rock Hero had no intention of rebelling against the royal family that he had sworn his allegiance to, he had not intended to support the n.o.bles Faction in the beginning.
However, because the Minister was killed, he became unable to repay a debt of grat.i.tude that he owed the Minister for saving his life on the battlefield. For this reason, he decided to repay it by cooperating with them.
He would have searched for the Tomboy Princess if she had remained hidden, and it is very likely that he would have killed her.
However, he was impressed by the Tomboy Princess's dignified appearance as she faced him head-on, so he chose to let her cut him with her Curtana.
...What a troublesome person.
It's not like I didn't think of this outcome, but I guess it's fine since it was his decision.
The Rock Hero really is a tough guy in various ways, or perhaps I should say he's a fool that's honest to a fault. Well, maybe I should say that he's an extremely serious person instead.
Following this course of events, the Tomboy Princess used her Curtana to cut the Rock Hero.
It was a splendid blow with the aim of cutting off his head. She was able to produce a clean swing from left to right, which I think was at least partially due to the training that I had been giving her. I'm sure that it would have been fatal under normal circ.u.mstances, with the severed head falling to the ground.
However, the Rock Hero didn't shed a single drop of blood, and his neck was still connecting his head to his body.
This was the result of the Curtana's 【Mercy】 effect.
With the 【Mercy】 effect, when the user feels compa.s.sion from the bottom of their heart towards the target that they're cutting, they'll be pardoned and the blade won't cut anything.
The target won't be killed and it seems they will normally believe that the ability was what saved them.
However, if even a tiny portion of her heart has not pardoned him, the Rock Hero's head would have been completely cut off. Even with his strong defense, his body would have been defenseless in front of 【Condemn】's ability to ignore the defenses of its target, though this is restricted to living things.
I can't help but think that the Rock Hero did well, since he was aware of this fact and still agreed to let her cut him with her blade.
If he had been cut, I think the Tomboy Princess intended to make me do something just before he completely died.
However, he was pardoned by the Tomboy Princess.
By using the Curtana with an intent to kill, she had displayed proof that she had sincerely forgiven him for his partic.i.p.ation in the current rebellion.
She didn't just do this to the Rock Hero, but she also used her Curtana to quickly cut his four companions, proving that she had forgiven them as well.
I'm certain that the five slashes would have killed them if there was even the slightest notion that they hadn't been forgiven, and all of their heads would have went flying. The Tomboy Princess had made her true feelings clear with this, because there had not been any bloodshed.
I think even the Rock Hero's party was surprised by this.
They looked dumbfounded as they confirmed that their heads were still attached, and they felt relieved after they had done so.
At this point, the Tomboy Princess seized the opening that was created and quickly began her "machine gun brainwash talk." As I observed this from a distance, I thought that it was really dirty to be able to read minds.
Being able to understand in detail what the target thinks, desires, what they're embarra.s.sed about, and other such things appears to suit the Tomboy Princess though, since she hasn't been concealing her scheming nature these days. I'm actually amazed that it suits her so well.
I understood that she was skillfully grasping the minds of the Rock Hero's party, similar to how one would play with a puppet in the palm of their hands.
Since there's only a small number of people that really know about the Tomboy Princess’s ability, it looked like she was even able to manipulate the Rock Hero.
Because she proved that she had forgiven them this time through the use of the Curtana's 【Mercy】 ability, they were able to have a quick discussion.
The Rock Hero's final request was that even if the current coup d'etat ends in the defeat of the Strong Grandson and his allies, the Strong Grandson is the only princ.i.p.al offender that wouldn't be executed. It was decided that he would be imprisoned instead of being killed.
He came to the conclusion that this is the least he could do to repay his debt to the Minister.
With this, because their reason to partic.i.p.ate in the coup d'etat had disappeared, they took this opportunity to leave the fight.
They said that they will pay close attention to how things develop from now on.
As she finished brainwas.h.i.+ng the Rock Hero's party, the Tomboy Princess wiped the sweat from her brow as a refres.h.i.+ng, yet somewhat wicked smile emerged on her face. She then saw me lying in a p.r.o.ne position in a remote location, using my silver arm like a sniper rifle and my red spear as if it were a bullet.
She gave me a thumbs up while she had a smile on her entire face that appeared to say that the operation was a success. She didn't look anything like the princess that had just brainwashed five people a short while ago.
Since I spent the day dealing with the aftermath in the Royal Capital, I’ll quickly talk about what happened to the army today.
The armies of the Tomboy Princess and the Strong Grandson clashed today at around noon.
The battle began on schedule in the plains and as I expected, the Strong Grandson's forces were superior to hers.
There was the difference between the number of soldiers in each army, but I guess it goes without saying that the Water Hero's existence was a great factor as well.
Immediately after the battle began, the Water Hero and his five companions rushed forward towards the Tomboy Princess's troops, aiming for the Duke that's currently leading them.
Of course, a large number of soldiers attempted to stop the Water Hero, but unfortunately they were cut down by the shockwaves created when he used his water attacks.
Still, the soldiers who risked their lives and challenged the Water Hero were able to slow him down. Meanwhile, the battle between the two forces continued to unfold.
However, the Water Hero ignored the battle itself as he had finally managed to reach the Duke on the other side.
The Duke was capable of fighting against two of the 【Hero】's companions on his own, but as one would expect, that was his limit. In the end, his sword was blown away by the Water Hero.
After that, the Water Hero's beloved two-handed longsword, the ≪Pale Sword of Flowing Water, Feinschubel≫, broke the Duke's stance and approached his neck. However, someone close by intervened just before the blade reached him.
The young man was hiding his ident.i.ty by using the 【Angry Demon's Mask】 to imitate the well-known face of the silver demon. He had 【Sunlight’s Soul Sword, Hisperiol】 in his right hand and was wearing light armor made of silver steel with Parabellum's emblem st.i.tched onto his cloak. In other words, it was Avenger.
Just like the Water Hero, Avenger was also chosen as a 【Hero】, and this was made apparent when he blocked the Water Hero's attack without moving a single step. As for the shock-waves of water that were created which could damage the body internally, they were rendered useless since they were evaporated by the extreme heat produced by 【Sunlight’s Soul Sword, Hisperiol】.
The Water Hero didn't expect this, and he stopped for a moment right after their deadlock, wondering just what kind of person Avenger was. During this time, he was unexpectedly hit in his blind spot by a blue flame spear. The flame spear's destruction was hidden because it blazed with extreme heat as it reacted effectively to the oxygen in the air.
However, the Water Hero had already placed a defensive layer of water around him and as a result, his body was not immediately hit by the attack. Despite this, he couldn't completely negate the damage from the attack, and he spun as he was blown several meters away.
The blue flame spear that blew the Water Hero away was a spell cast by Supesei-san, who was waiting behind Avenger.
Besides these two people that had confronted the Water Hero’s party, there were other members present as well. This included Burasato-san, Gurufu-chan, Scarface, a squadron of five ogres, and Rusty Iron Knight, who was wearing the same mask that Avenger was wearing.
Because we had arranged for Avenger's group to act differently in the plains before the battle began, they were able to save the Duke. His group contained a large number of Goblins and Hobgoblins, as well.
Normally, it would be difficult for them to become useful war potential, but because all of our members had been given the three new pieces of equipment that we'd developed at our base, they were good enough to fight the opponent's normal soldiers.
Well, it’s probably not just because of the new equipment.
The group that was led by Avenger confronted the party of the Water Hero.
Although there was a large number of minor and serious injuries, there were fewer deaths than I expected because powerful people like Burasato-san were nearby, coupled with the fact that Avenger was an existence that was equal to the Water Hero.
Still, because the 【Hero’s】 companions were fighting without suffering much damage, they were unable to settle the fight.
However, even though Avenger and his group were wounded, they were still able to complete their task of delaying the Water Hero.
They did this because at the same time that the enemy was using the Water Hero's group to go after the Duke, Minokichi-kun was going after the Strong Grandson.
Unlike the Water Hero who had attacked his enemy head-on, Minokichi-kun flanked his opponent where they had a low number of soldiers. Due to their carelessness, the forces surrounding the Strong Grandson were easily defeated.
I think that this was largely due to the fact that Minokichi-kun was accompanied by his pet, which had ranked up into a nine meter cla.s.s “Armored Big Bear”, Asue-chan and an old Thunder Dragonewt, both of which were riding on pets of their own, and some other strong members that had gathered around him, including a Praying Mantis type of Insectoid and a Dullahan in particular.
In other words, while the Water Hero was busy with the Tomboy Princess’s forces, the Strong Grandson’s forces were being overrun by Minokichi-kun and the others.
However, the Tomboy Princess's forces appear to have suffered far less damage. This is mainly due to the difference in the size of their armies, as well as the fact that Minokichi-kun's axe attacks and his thunder flames were powerful, being capable of cutting down enemies in a wide area around him.
In the end, the Strong Grandson's forces were forced to retreat from the plains.
The Duke that the Water Hero was aiming for was definitely leading the Tomboy Princess's forces, but he was actually just a representative in the end. Unless the Tomboy Princess herself is killed, even total annihilation of her forces wouldn’t be considered a victory.
At the same time, the Strong Grandson is simply the current leader of the 【n.o.bles Faction】, so there's ultimately no point in killing him or the Duke.
However, a lot of time would be wasted trying to decide who the next representative would be, and it was clear that the Tomboy Princess's forces would attack if their solidarity weakened.
In order to avoid this, the Strong Grandson chose to withdraw.
Ultimately, the reason they had to do this was because Minokichi's group was rampaging within their ranks.
As a result of their pursuit of his forces, we found out that they had returned to the city of ≪Sengrey≫ in the Strong Grandson's territory after they retreated from the plains, so that they could reorganize their forces.
Since it’s possible to get to ≪Sengrey≫ from the Royal Capital in just a few hours, the Tomboy Princess left to take command of her forces and they plan to besiege the city.
With that, I finished my preparations and quickly went to bed.
【World Psalms [Legend of the Black Eclipse Demon], 【Sub-cast Member】 Supesei has ranked up】
【Since the “1st” Condition 【Rank Up】 has been cleared, the t.i.tle 【Priestess of Collapsing Stars】 will be granted】
【World Psalms [Legend of the Black Eclipse Demon], 【Sub-cast Member】 Burasato has ranked up】
【Since the “1st” Condition 【Rank Up】 has been cleared, the t.i.tle 【Frightening Blade of Dried Rust】 will be granted】
【World Psalms [Legend of the Black Eclipse Demon], Chapter 4 【Encouragement of a Kingdom's Revolution】, Verse 7 【War Flames' Bullets (Evil Ballad)】 has been completed. The following hidden conditions were cleared: ≪Innovation≫ and ≪Fake Firearms≫】
【World Psalms [Legend of the Black Eclipse Demon], Chapter 4 【Encouragement of a Kingdom's Revolution】, Verse 8 【Horse's Retreat (Totol Tyrol)】 has been completed. The following hidden conditions were cleared: ≪Fear Value Achieved≫ and ≪Fighting Spirit Value Achieved≫】
【World Psalms [Legend of the Black Eclipse Demon], Chapter 4 【Encouragement of a Kingdom's Revolution】, Verse 9 【Hooves of the Destructive Axe (Aste Ruos)】 has been completed. The following hidden conditions were cleared: ≪Axe Emperor's Battle Frenzy≫ and ≪Unstoppable Flanking Troops≫】
【World Psalms [Legend of the Black Eclipse Demon], Chapter 4 【Encouragement of a Kingdom's Revolution】, Verse 10 【Events of a Heroic Bat
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