“I am grateful . As expected of Michio-dono . Just as I expected . ”
I agree to the role of vanguard for the invasion of the Earl of Selmar’s castle upon which the Duke is pleased .
I am not doing this for you, Bastard .
It is for Cassia’s sake .
B-Bastard, It isn’t for you .
Sherry’s face suggests her unease; however, she doesn’t plan on interrupting .
Probably because the other party is the Duke .
“Oh well . I will take care of it, somehow . ”
In order for Sherry to hear, I speak optimistically .
Roxanne doesn’t seem to be worried at all . Maybe because she has confidence in me?
Has she never had a thought that she is overestimating my ability?
“The sortie will be tonight, so I cannot offer you sake; however, you can eat and drink until you are full . ”
Is this what staying overnight was for?
I admit, though, that his preparations are good .
Since there is no sake, it will be impossible to sortie while drunk .
Is this why he didn’t arrange for the Dwarf Killer this time?
There is no helping it .
Should I at least eat to relieve the stress?
“Your Highness, Gozer here . ”
After having indulged myself in eating for a while, a knock comes from outside followed by a voice .
It is Gozer .
The moment Gozer left on account of emergency, the Duke created all sorts of troubles for me .
It really isn’t good for me when Gozer isn’t around .
“Gozer, is that you? I will open the door . Don’t enter . ”
The Duke stands up and heads to the door personally .
Does it mean if he enters the conference room, the meeting will come to an end?
Speaking of which, till when are we not allowed to leave?
Will we be on house arrest until the operation has been executed late night?
The Duke opens the door .
On the other side of the door is Gozer standing alone .
“Operation SE-2 is progressing smoothly ‘just according to keikaku’ . About 80% of the personnel have already been contacted . They have begun assembling here . ”
Gozer reports in low voice .
I could hear him well, though .
He receives the report with his chest filled with pride . The Duke is after all a Duke .
Even if it is rotten, it is still a sea bream .
“Since the plan was a sudden occurrence, it might be difficult to get in touch with everyone . 80% would suffice . ”
“However, there is one problem . ”
“What is it?”
Gozer hesitates while looking toward me with a complicated expression .
Apparently, it is something he doesn’t want the outsiders to hear .
“It is alright . Michio-dono has agreed to lend us a hand . ”
“Michio-dono has visited the Earl of Selmar’s place before . ”
He didn’t tell Gozer that he dragged me there, it seems .
Had he told Gozer, he wouldn’t have given me that dubious look .
“Is that so?”
Gozer looks at me with the eyes that contained pity .
As if the man of the world has found a companion .
I’m certain that Gozer is subjected to the Duke’s manipulation everyday .
“So, what is the matter that is troubling you?”
“Actually . ”
Since Gozer’s voice was low, I didn’t get much of what he said thereafter .
It was full of names .
Someone went to someplace . That’s how it went .
There appears to have been a slip up while circulating the emergency summons .
A miss? An accident?
“Then, it would be better to start ahead of schedule . ”
“I guess . ”
“As soon as the minimum number of people has assembled, we will execute the operation . Excluding Michi-dono, that would be 44 . ”
“I understand . ”
With a decision having been made, Gozer leaves .
The Duke closes the door and returns to his seat .
“I am sorry . There was a need for a small modification to the tactics . It may start earlier . ”
“Did something happen to my younger brother?”
When the Duke sits down, Cassia asks .
Apparently, Cassia managed to hear her younger brother’s full name in Gozer’s report which was full of full names .
“Nope, nothing happened to him . ”
Cassia heaves a sigh of relief .
“Cassia’s younger brother is her cousin . He is next in line to become the Earl of Selmar . ”
The Duke looks at me and explains .
He is her cousin even though she said younger brother?
Naturally, Cassia’s cousin means he is a member of the Earl of Selmar’s household .
He meets the qualification to succeed the title, I guess .
Even though he said he would invade the Earldom of Selmar, he doesn’t seem to be intent on destroying it . He plans on merely reshuffling the top .
Or, installing a capable person as a puppet, perhaps?
“He will be the next Earl of Selmar?”
“For that, I have to have him participate this time by raising his army . However, when an Adventurer from the order of my knights visited him, there were other people together with him . It would have been better had they been unrelated; however, they were someone connected to the Earl of Selmar . For what reason would a member of the order of my knights visit a relative of the Earl of Selmar? Any smart person would figure the reason out . ”
“And, due to that, you want to have it carried out as soon as possible?”
Since there is a likelihood of the other side noticing it, we need to start earlier before they get the chance to prepare, huh?
Since even Gozer didn’t know the exact time of the decisive action, I don’t think Cassia’s cousin knew either .
Since he didn’t know, he could accidentally be with anyone at that time .
Isn’t the Duke’s unpredictability responsible for this?
“As an insurance, I planned on waiting till they fell asleep; however, that option is no longer available . As soon as minimum preparations have been done, we will break into the Earl of Selmar’s castle . Onward from this point of time, there shouldn’t be any significant problem . For it is night, there shouldn’t be any audience taking place . Also, since the territory of Selmar isn’t far from here, you don’t have to be worried about the time variation . ”
It would have been better had we invaded late at night as we would have had to face a small number of people due to the most of them being asleep .
The earlier we start, the more the risk; however, it is still better than the information leaking .
There doesn’t seem to be any need to consider the time difference with the territory of Selmar .
“Your Highness . ”
For a second time, comes a knock on the door followed by Gozer’s voice .
“I bring news . ”
“Are the preparations done?”
“Everything is ready . ”
Once he heard that, the Duke draws his Ocihalcum Sword .
After lightly nodding toward me, which surprised me, he opens the door .
On the other side of the door, there are two more men beside Gozer .
One is a knight whom I have met before .
“It has been a long time . ”
The other man is already surprised .
If you see the Duke holding the sword the moment the door opens, you will of course be surprised .
The man looks at Cassia as if asking her something but Cassia shakes her head .
“I will go straight to the point . I would like for you to become the next Earl . ”
You haven’t even discussed it with him beforehand!
He is going to persuade him right here, it seems .
In other words, this poor soul, who has been brought over, is Cassia’s cousin .
Were the talks supposed to be held tonight?
In order to avert the uproar since it would be a hit or miss?
Unfortunately, he cannot declare that he is in conflict with others .
There is a chance that he would refuse after the talks were held .
He must be worried that the information would leak to the Earl of Selmar if he refused .
Or worse yet, instead of refusing, he pretended to be helping and betrayed at the last moment .
So then, did he choose not to discuss it with him beforehand?
He won’t have the opportunity to inform the Earl of Selmar if he discusses it with him right now .
If he opposes, he can be restrained until it is over .
And, even if he tries to double-cross, he won’t have the time to prepare .
“Are you……going to kill the Earl?”
He squeezes these words out as his face turns pale .
His face really has turned pale .
All his blood seems to have drained .
Without saying a word, the Duke nods exaggeratedly .
“You knew this would happen eventually, so pull yourself together . ”
Insists Cassia, calling out to the man .
He knows it well .
Is it such a disgraceful matter for a noble to not be able to subjugate a labyrinth?
Is it natural for them to be overthrown?
By the same token, the Earl of Selmar must be expecting this .
He must know he is in danger since it is natural for him to be overthrown .
Nah . Had he had enough war potential, he would have put it to use in the labyrinths already .
“I hope you understand . ”
“However, if you do such a thing . ”
“Even though it is unofficial, I have received the approval from the elven supreme delegate council . As for why it is unofficial, it is only because the Earl of Selmar is a member, too . Rather, it is on request of the council . If the number of Earls diminished, it would be troublesome for all the elves; however, everything will work out if you become the next Earl . ”
He had already set the groundwork, it seems .
The invasion doesn’t seem to be for the Duke’s selfish reasons .
“With this, there is room for talks……”
“You can consider yourself elected by the council . If you form an alliance with me, the damage will be kept to the minimum . Do you accept?”
“Y-Yes . ”
The Duke forcibly makes him accept it .
It is more like a threat since he is holding his sword .
“You must not forget your responsibilities as a noble . ”
With her cousin having been forced, Cassia talks to him .
Is she trying to comfort him?
“Then, until the operation has been executed, I would like you to stay in this room . ”
“I will summon warriors, too . ”
“Unfortunately, we don’t have much time . To relieve you of your worries, I will have you work fully once we are inside the castle . ”
The Duke refuses his offer .
It is logical . There would be a risk of the Earl of Selmar getting the wind of it if he summoned his companions .
Also, he seems to be making him join nominally .
He might perhaps have been a hindrance .
“Everyone will soon be gathered . ”
One of the knights comes running in and reports at the entrance to the room .
“We will be heading out soon . ”
“Okay . ”
After having received the Duke’s reply, he heads back .
“Then, this marks the end of today’s meeting . You will be able to leave the room but only afterward . Cassia, can I ask of you to keep watch over the people gathered here who were with the Earl of Selmar during our wedding? They will soon notice the abnormality . ”
“I will go to the castle, too . ”
“Of course you will; however, not as a vanguard . For now, the priority is not to let the information leak to the opposition . ”
“Understood . ”
The Duke first takes Cassia out of the room .
She will possibly not participate in the battle since he asked of her to keep watch .
It would be harsh on her if he made her invade her own house .
“Should we be going, too?”
“Michio-dono, everyone, here . ”
Gozer beckons us .
We follow behind him .
The room we have been led to is the same room where Roxanne had the duel before .
There are a lot of people in the room .
The air is different from how it usually is inside the Bode castle .
The air is tense .
Isn’t it expected? We are invading, after all?
For light, instead of candles in lanterns, braziers are being used .
“Let me explain the tactics in a simple manner . First, you will move to the castle along with the people assembled here . This time, we will be taking down the Earl of Selmar alone . You will approach from the front and announce that . It will reduce the resistance from the Earl’s side . If the resistance weakened, the achievement would be credited to you . ”
The Duke turns to the next Earl and explains .
He does want to minimize the use of force, it seems .
It would really leave a bad aftertaste if you raised your hand against your own . Also, this way, it will be easier for Cassia’s cousin to act .
The resistance from the Earl’s side will surely weaken if a member of his own family turns against him .
“I will do my best . ”
Although he appears stout hearted, I am not sure as to how much influence can this man, whose position I don’t know, demonstrate .
“Availing that opportunity, Michio-dono will make his move after which will be my turn . I will make quick inroads and seize the control of the castle . ”
He hasn’t told him about moving to the emblem or, for that matter, given any other detail .
I wonder if he still doesn’t trust this relative of the Earl of Selmar fully
It has been decided that I will take with me a group the order of knights Adventurers .
After visiting once, the order of knights Adventurers will be able to move to the emblem by themselves next time .
Grabbing the chance created by the commotion instigated by this man at the front, the control will be seized in one fell swoop from the back .
“Very well . ”
“If you are content with using simple equipment, you can use the ones prepared here . ”
“Thank you very much . ”
The man leaves the place, accompanied by a member of the order of knights .
“Would Michio-dono like to use these equipment?”
“No, I already have some in my Item Box . ”
I have the sword, gloves and hat inside my Item Box .
I am wearing a hard leather armor .
It is a precaution for contingency .
“Alright then, you can wait here for a while . ”
The Duke tries to depart with Gozer .
“Wait, please . I would like to accompany my Master during the first transfer . ”
Roxanne stops them .
“Roxanne, you will?”
“Yes . ”
Without thinking, I nod and answer .
“What do you mean?”
The Duke halts and enquires .
“The place where Master is going is not absolutely safe, is it?”
“Yes, you may be right . ”
“I won’t let Master go to that kind of a place alone . I will go with him and protect him by all means . ”
Roxanne continues to speak .
Even though she has been silent ever since we came here .
She is bold .
“But the number of people . ”
The Duke seems to be at a loss .
It may not be easy for him to change the tactics on a whim .
If I took 5 Adventurers first, we could take 36 people next .
However, if Roxanne joined, we would only be able to take 30 people next .
This is a chance, nonetheless .
I can propose the idea I have .
“Then, how about I go on scouting before we execute the operation?”
“If there are people lying in wait, we will be able to find out once I go . It will be fine if it is only Roxanne and me . Also, it will allow Roxanne to rest at ease . With this, there will be no change in the tactics . ”
I take advantage of Roxanne’s suggestion .
The purpose is for us to go alone .
There is no need to stupidly move to the emblem via [Field Walk] .
If we go alone, I can use [Warp] .
There will be no problem in moving even to the throne room .
I can move there via [Warp] even if they have shield cement applied to the walls .
Even if they have trap devices set up around the emblem, there will be no problem if I enter from somewhere else .