At a distance of about half a day left to the mining village.
An army of a thousand marched in a long line towards their destination. Several men were riding at the front with horses while the others followed behind.
Despite simple, their uniform tools and equipment displayed that they are not a random group but are disciplined soldiers marching with a purpose.
And among them, there were about a hundred people that are wearing irregular equipment, mercenaries.
「Just when the war with the Republic finished, now the west huh. Can’t catch a break can we. 」
「Not like we can complain, Jio. A good paying job like this is rare to come by. Let’s earn while we can. 」
The brown-haired swordsman muttered to no one, but the large guy walking beside him laughed cheerfully and replied.
Ahead of the two walking, there was another shorter mercenary that turned around and interjected.
The voice that was high pitch unique to a female agreed with the large man.
「Yup. Unlike the war with the Republic, it’s just taking over a mining village this time, isn’t it a considerably easier job. 」
The orangish eyes directed towards him, and the swordsman named Jio seemed displeased.
「But there’s too many of us for that. It’s just a mining village, a thousand people are a little overboard……. What do you think, Gresche? 」
Jio who was in search of a supporter asked the person walking beside the female mercenary, and the tall mercenary with a shield turned around and showed a bitter smile.
「I know what Jio is talking about but, Ralph is right too, it’s rare to get a job as good as this. So it’s better not to waste this chance. 」
「Look, Gresche is saying so too. Isn’t it fine? If you don’t like it, you can return now. Since we have so many soldiers already. Just one man lesser probably isn’t significant. 」
「Of course I wouldn’t be grumbling to return now. 」
「Then don’t say discouraging things like that. It makes us feel unmotivated. 」
「Not like I ever said it to you, Konia. 」
「Jio, Konia. Leave it at that much. 」
Since the female mercenary and Jio were starting a fight, Gresche, the tall swordsman sighed before telling them to stop.
It’s not like they are really at each other’s throats. It’s just another normal occurrence in the party.
Raised in the same village, the four had been walking down the path of mercenary together for a long time.
Their ties are not weak that a small bicker like this can put a dent in it. Gresche and the others, four of them are active mercenaries in Thoria.
It has been about eight years since they started calling themselves 『Costas』, after their hometown.
Despite many mercenaries disappear within three years, they are famous for not having even one member retiring after so long.
After the top party, 『Bright Stars of White Night』 disappeared from Thoria, 『Costas』 had been filling their spot.
「Well, I do think sending a thousand soldiers against a mining village is overboard. But it could just be the general being careful, or he expected to a certain degree of threat from them……」
「Eeeeh――. Which side are you on, Gresche. 」
「Of course, I’m on both. 」
Gresche easily responded to Konia’s complaint.
「In any case, it’s true that it’s a good job. But I also understand Jio’s worry. It’s fine if it’s just plainly being more cautious. But if that’s not the case, there might be more to this, we have to prepare ourselves and expect things like that too right? So there’s nothing wrong with being more cautious. 」
「Well…… that’s right. 」
Konia albeit unsatisfied, she didn’t try poking for more.
Leaving aside the times when they were all new, the four had already crossed multiple life-threatening danger already, and had repelled the malice of others together.
The fact that just strength alone is not enough to survive, and the fact that nothing is all pretty is what they painfully understand now.
Because of those experiences, they have the tolerance to accept what Gresche said.
Just that unlike their younger times trying to reach for the top, they are now in the position being targeted by the chicks.
What Konia didn’t like was just Jio running his mouth this late in the job. Of course, it’s not like they are having a serious discourse.
That’s just something they do to break the bore until they arrive at their destination.
While doing this and that, Gresche and the others finally arrived at the mining village.
However, at that time, what they saw was something unexpected.
「Hey, Jio. 」
「What is it, Ralph. 」
「We came here to take a mining village under control right. 」
「That should be the case. 」
「And the mining village shouldn’t have any military power right. 」
「Of course. …… Though my confidence is dropping. 」
「No, I mean. There’re probably villages that set up fences to keep out beasts but…… the heck is that? 」
Ralph and Jio with half surprise and confusion were conversing. It’s natural. After all, they were gazing at a wall about five meter high blocking their road.
The wall extended all the way out in their vision, and their edges circled further back.
It’s likely that it covers a certain radius. The end of it is probably―― or rather the whole thing must be surrounding the entire village.
「Eh? Huh? Were we not headed to a mining village? 」
Konia was looking left and right with a confused expression. It was not just them that is confused.
The other mercenaries too, Thoria soldiers, and also the commanding officers were all confused at what they were seeing.
「W-What is this!? 」
「I-It’s likely a defensive wall……」
The commanding general that was riding on a horse howled at the vice officer.
「I can tell what it is! What I want to say is, why is there a defensive wall around a mining village! 」
「I-It’s unclear. The insider did state that there are security groups within but, there was not a single mention about a defensive wall. 」
「『Not a single mention』 but! Now, what the heck is that! Is that insider blind or what! 」
It seems like the Thoria army did not know about the wall in advance well.
The reason why they had organized a thousand soldiers was that they have scouted the mining village ahead of time.
That’s something that Gresche and the others guessed. However, it seems like they didn’t know about the presence of the defensive wall.
If it is just fences made from planks and logs, then it wouldn’t be a problem, but seeing the wall in front of them like a fort, it’s a different story.
Even if the army is formed from soldiers and mercenaries that are pro in war, fighting enemies within a wall without any siege weapons or support from magic would warrant for many casualties.
As the commander of the Thoria army was yelling angrily, there were movements from the village.
Human shadows appeared on the top wall, and then continued to increase in number.
Although it’s still too far to make it out, it seems like most of them are holding bow-like objects.
「There’s about a hundred people. And they’re holding…… bow? 」
Jio estimated the number by looking.
「Some are not holding one at the middle though. 」
Gresche told his allies, as Konia was trying to peer further by roofing her eyes.
「Their commander? 」
「That’s a possibility too, or maybe it’s a magician. 」
Gresche felt like something was tightening his chest. It was the sense of danger from his long experience.
「And what our commander is intending to do. 」
「I guess he won’t back off easily having come this far out. They are out here because of an order after all. 」
Ralph was muttering looking at the commander of the Thoria army, and answered Konia with a tone expressing why ask when you know.
Certainly, the Thoria army is unlikely to back off now. However, if they were to fight a hundred archers from on top of a wall, and if the enemy had a magician, even if the army won, they would suffer great losses.
For Gresche and the others that now know that it will be dangerous, they wanted them to reconsider but……. They understood that the army likely wouldn’t do so either.
「It’s a bluff! It’s only put there to intimidate us! No way they can build a fully encompassing defensive wall in a month! 」
「H-However, there’s a possibility that it’s constructed with magic. 」
「Absurdity! A wall like that, even with magic, they will need at least ten court magicians! Are you saying that there’re ten of those magicians in this remote area! 」
The commander’s yell towards the vice commander was even audible at where Gresche and the others were at.
It seems like unfortunately, the commander had chosen to push through with force.
Gresche sighed. As a mercenary, they must fight when they are told to.
That’s the contract the army and the mercenaries signed. As they braced themselves for an uphill battle, there was one shadow that jumped from above the five-meter wall.
「One of them jumped down. 」
Someone muttered. Seemingly unaffected by the five-meter jump and landing on the ground softly, it was walking towards the army casually.
「A messenger…… possibly? 」
The commander’s next order was merciless, despite hearing what the vice commander said.
「Prepare to release arrows whenever they’re in range. 」
「W-What are you saying. There’s only one person, they might be a messenger! 」
「Leaving aside a white flag, they must be an enemy with that sword in hand! The Emperor’s decree is to not be merciful to any who dares to resist! 」
As the commander said, the shadow that was approaching seemed to be holding something long in their hands.
It’s likely that it’s a sword. However, even if they’re holding a sword, it’s going overboard to fire all their arrows towards just one opponent.
The vice commander’s panic was natural.
「Please rethink! If we can talk it out, it’s better than fighting! 」
「No way people like them that are armed have the intention to give up! Their will to oppose is obvious! 」
「Shut up, useless! Archers, step front! 」
Ignoring the vice commander’s words, the commander gave his orders to the soldiers. About half of the soldiers stood front and took out a bow.
Despite their movements that should be very visible to the opponent, the opponent didn’t stop walking.
「Oi oi, That guy, does he not understand his situation? 」
Ralph frowned at the reckless shadow. Despite killing on a battlefield is a natural thing, it felt wrong to see someone die like that pathetically. It was what Gresche thought as well.
However, disregarding what they had been thinking, the Thoria soldiers released several hundreds of arrows.
Just when the arrows were supposed to kill the approaching human shadow without any doubt――.
There were a few short gasps from here and there. The arrows that should’ve skewered the person mercilessly all dropped to the ground as if dodging him.
No, that wasn’t accurate. The arrows that were going to land on him were hit to the ground by something.
「What’s that? 」
Something was floating beside the person. There were three pieces of something thin floating.
The something thin moved around, and struck down the arrows easily.
「Second volley, release! 」
The commander gave the second order, another several hundred arrows was shot.
However, similarly, the arrows was about to hit the person before getting struck down.
And so, the person continued to approach the Thoria army. And when the distance closed, they can make out the opponent’s appearance.
It was a young man. A purple-colored short robe was around him.
Black hair, and something like a cloth was swaying at the back of his head. And then three shadows floating around him.
Seeing that, Gresche suddenly gasped. He felt familiar with that appearance.
「It’s……Ardis, right. 」
Konia who had the best vision among the four said the answer first. Her expression seemed to be shaking.
「Ha? Ardis you said? 」
Jio and Ralph who were both surprised squinted their eyes and observed, and found out it is the truth.
「Why is Ardis there……」
「Rather than that, Jio. 」
Gresche’s expression hardened.
「Arrows had been shooting towards Ardis already, will he stay quiet? 」
Not just Jio, Ralph and Konia, they were all speechless. The same conclusion was made by the four people at the same time.
「Spread out! 」
「A counter is coming! 」
「Get away! 」
About the same time, several yelling came from the surroundings. They all started running away to get away from the high density area.
Those that were confused at what was happening, those that escaped sensing danger instinctively, and those that yelled to those that were running.
There were various kinds of responses. That was what determined life and death.
Gresche and the others immediately turned tail and ran from the center of the army that had the most people.
A tremendous explosion came from their back. As the shockwave hit their back, their body was blown away.
Complaining that he’s merciless as usual while crashing into the ground, Gresche’s final thoughts were so before his consciousness cut off.