Ardis and the others that launched a surprise attack above the Rodelia headquarters struck the enemy soldiers without hesitation.
Cutting down a soldier that was standing like a fool, slashing apart his throat before he even had the chance to scream.
Just as he landed, another soldier tried to stab at him, but he used the enemy that he just killed as a shield.
「Kuh, you traitor! 」
Ardis felt like he remembered the face that was glaring at him. It was a face that he saw before when he fought on the Rodelia side in the last battle. He might’ve crossed paths with him at one point or another.
However, they are enemies now.
「Don’t blame me. 」
After lightly apologizing, Ardis dove into his opponent’s bosom swiftly, and slashed apart his abdomen. Being a mercenary, it was common that yesterday’s comrade would become today’s enemy.
Although it may seem like an act of betrayal from the soldier who stays in the regular army, for Ardis and the others, it only amounted to a degree of 「So what」.
「Ardis, there! 」
Luciel who similarly defeated another enemy on her own pointed towards a certain direction.
「The enemy general? 」
The vivid crimson hair was sticking out like a sore thumb despite the harsh visibility. It was natural for Ardis to conclude like that instantly.
Albeit not luxurious, it was a woman that wore a crimson cloak the same color of her hair with a glittering armor that didn’t suit the battlefield while wielding a sword.
Despite not knowing her face, wearing that kind of equipment could only mean that she has a considerable position here.
「That’s her, Rodelia’s woman general! 」
One of his fellow mercenaries raised his voice, and those who realized it, be it enemy or ally started to gather.
「Taste the power of mercenaries that you belittled! 」
Four mercenaries surrounded the woman general at once and attacked. However, the synced attack by the four was brushed off by the woman general with a cool face.
The mercenary that slashed from the front was instantly decapitated, and following with her momentum, the woman general’s sword cut through other mercenaries that approached from the side.
「Shit, she’s strong! 」
「So that Catastrophic Butterfly name isn’t just for a show! 」
The remaining two sensed imminent danger and retreated one step.
「Well, it’s fine that you don’t even know the correct way to invite for a dance……. But it’s unsightly to back off now that you’ve extended the offer to a maiden. 」
The woman general had no intentions of letting her prey escape as she tried to cut down the remaining two.
「I know! 」
Without Luciel saying, Ardis already stepped forward to support the two mercenaries by deploying a barrier and slashing.
The moment he thought that he could strike in surprise at her vulnerable back, it was as if she had eyes on her back and turned around.
Despite knowing that his surprise attack had failed, Ardis still swung his sword down nonetheless.
Matching the timing for when he swung his sword, Luciel as well fired a fireball to help him, as they flew past Ardis.
「Fuh, what kind of amusement is this? 」
Three silver-colored glowing spheres that looked like a mirror appeared beside the woman general as she scoffed, stopping Luciel’s fireballs from the front.
At the same time, she received Ardis’s attack with her sword, and handled Rona who attacked from the side with another one of her spheres.
Missing the timing, Rona stopped.
「Say, entertain me more! 」
The woman general swung her sword towards Ardis, as if urging the sideshow to entertain a party. Ardis was able to intercept the sudden sword assault, but the weight of the blade, which was heavier than he imagined, caused his face to contort.
Despite being able to avoid a situation where his sword gets deflected, he could not dodge the silver sphere that chased after him as he ate it in his abdomen.
As his entire body was flung backwards, a wave of pain so strong that it temporarily froze all thought rushed over him.
Beside Luciel who was running towards Ardis, a tall figure ran past. The figure ran past Ardis and headed in a straight line towards the woman general.
Crossing the distance in an instant, the figure that was Victor slashed at the woman general. Holding a short sword in both of his hands, he struck the woman general rapidly in succession.
The rapid attack that had no gaps in between was too much even for the woman general as expected. And then, to the two, another person joined, it was the leader of Wisteria mercenary band, and its strongest warrior, Greyth.
「Victor! ……Even Greyth! 」
Around Greyth were swords and spears, even tent stakes and other various kinds of weapon could be found floating around him.
Using mana to manipulate the weapons, it was the arts known as flying swords to attack as if having many invisible hands. The number were in the tens, and each of them displayed skills that were not inferior to Greyth himself.
It looked like Greyth had spawned multiple clones of himself along with the weapons. It was a joint attack by the number one and number two that stood out even in the gathering of strong people that is Wisteria.
Normally, there wouldn’t be any people that can stand up to both at once. However, the woman general that held the nickname of Catastrophic Butterfly displayed strength befitting of her rumors.
「My, are you two enemies today!? Fine, let us have some fun! 」
Despite facing Victor and Greyth, whom both are irregularly strong, the woman general was wielding her sword while enjoying herself.
The silver spheres that surrounded her increased in number, and now there were about ten of them flying in the air in all directions.
Sometimes defending against Victor’s dual swords, sometimes transforming into a spear and blasting out towards Greyth, trying to skewer him.
In front of the abnormal strength that the woman general held, even Ardis and Luciel could do nothing but watch. It was an exchange of defenses and attacks, too high leveled even for Ardis’ eyes.
There was no gap to enter even if he wanted to help, and if he did so carelessly, it may be an obstruction to Greyth and Victor.
The exchange of defenses and attacks didn’t continue for long. Eventually, a magician with cool blue eyes interrupted the two sides that did not yield at all.
Without missing the instant when both Greyth and Victor retreated to readjust their stance, a streak of emerald, green light hit the woman general.
The owner of that arts was someone Ardis knew well.
「I will support! 」
Relaying that to Greyth, Elion started constructing the second arts to follow up. Although the first arts certainly landed on mark, the enemy surely isn’t easy enough to go down with one.
And just as expected, the woman general had put up a magic barrier against the arts, as Elion fired the second arts.
「Just this much……」
However, it wasn’t a counterattack but a scoff he got back.
「Small fries should go hang out elsewhere. 」
「Even a small fry can do this much! 」
Replying to the woman general who said as if driving away an annoyance coldly, Elion’s figure started to shake.
Eventually, the number of figures increased to three, and then four.
Ardis inferred the true nature of the technique.
「So which of me is real?」
The multiple figures of Elion all had an unusual provoking expression as they started moving all at once. At the same time, Greyth and Victor resumed their attacks.
The weapons around Greyth charged towards the woman general at once, and from another direction, Victor struck with his twin swords. As if not allowing even a window of rest, Elion bombarded her with his arts.
「So what about it? 」
However, the woman general fended them off casually. Increasing the number of silver spheres around her, with thirty of them around, they dealt with Greyth’s flying swords, Victor’s twin swords, and even Elion’s arts with room to spare.
「Is that woman general a monster or something……」
Ardis painfully grumbled. Being someone that hadn’t even reached the league of Greyth or Victor, on top of that, the woman general who had room to spare while facing two of them with the addition of the third being a genius magician instilled fear in him.
「Mirage or not, they are only illusions in the end. 」
As if she had already seen through Elion’s technique, the woman general started to ignore Elion’s mirages. The mirages can confuse the opponent, but not directly attack them.
As the one dishing out attacks is Elion himself, Elion’s mirage is only there to make feints and cause the enemy to slip.
There’s no meaning to it if the technique itself is seen through and the main body is identified. Elion should understand that too, as Ardis tilted his head inwardly.
However, his question soon dissolved.
「You fell for it! 」
Suddenly, one of the mirages spoke.
As expected, even the woman general never thought a mirage could speak, as she showed a surprised expression. The next moment, the mirage that spoke fired a strong wave of wind blades.
「From where――! 」
She panickily tried to put up a barrier, but the wind blades were already approaching her neck.
Even so, it appeared that there was enough time for her to avoid a direct hit, as the woman general covered her neck with small barriers. The wind blades hit the barrier with a dull sound.
The honeycombed barrier glowed a dull purple color.
The woman general had a short yelp. No matter how much of a monster she is, she couldn’t completely defend from a surprise attack.
The aim of the blade deviated from the woman general’s neck, and instead, the wind blades made a small cut on her cheek.
The woman general that showed panic for the first time blew Greyth and Victor away and retreated. She glared from a distance at Elion and the mirage that stood beside him.
「Right on the mark. 」
「It was this close. 」
Elion and Sark both replied with their own words at the woman general that muttered a question. That’s right. It was Sark that posed as one of Elion’s mirage in the fight.
The mirages that Elion made already disappeared. The reason why there was still another figure standing beside Elion with the exact same face was because it was Sark, a real person rather than a mirage.
The woman general that didn’t notice that made a painful mistake, all because she was too focused on the fight that she didn’t think of using mana detection.
With mana detection, it’s easy to discern mirages from human. However, the woman general that was fighting one-mindedly thought they were all Elion’s mirage, and forgot the possibility that there was a real person hiding among them.
Even Ardis couldn’t tell when Sark hid among the mirages. Sark wasn’t there when Elion created his mirages for sure.
Considering how Ardis didn’t realize Sark’s presence there, it’s natural that the woman general was deceived too.
The woman general touched her own face. She moved her fingers in front of her and peered at the blood-splattered fingers with her crimson eyes.
「Blood……? My face…… wound? 」
Using as much as two pauses to grasp the situation, eventually, the woman general raised her face.
「Wounding me……. My, face――! 」
Eventually, as she realized that she was injured, her expression contorted to like a hannya, expressing her intense fury.
「A mere―― mercenary―― wounding my face! 」
Rage filled the woman general. A raging expression as if the composed person from before was a lie. The woman general doused with clear rage glared at Elion and Sark.
「You dare! You dare! You dare do this to meeeee! 」
Having seen that, Ardis felt chills down his back. As the woman general stepped one step forward with an overflowing killing intent, a battle cry from a little distance away resounded.
「We’re out of time! Retreat! 」
It was Greyth signaling the retreat. The allies that attacked as distraction to let Ardis and the others of the assault troops to attack the Rodelia’s headquarters made use of the confusion among the enemies and charged in despite a little late.
The clouds of sand that covered the Rodelia headquarters had thinned out considerably. Although the risk of friendly fire had decreased, there was nothing guaranteeing they wouldn’t be hit by their own allies that were charging in with momentum.
「Victor, hold them back! Heard it, Ardis!? Take Ruu and Rona and retreat quickly! 」
Having called out by Greyth, Ardis finally snapped out from being frozen by Jelia’s killing intent. The problem was whether the enraged woman general would let them leave peacefully…….
「Jelia-sama! The enemies are charging from the left! 」
「Kuh! At this time……! 」
The woman general that received the report from her subordinates bit her lips in frustration as her murderous glare continued.
Despite so, it appears she upheld her mission, stopping her pursuit and issuing commands to the surroundings.
In the end, Ardis and the others managed to retreat with close to no casualties albeit having to fend off a few attacks.
「We finally got a hit in that detestable woman general! Serves her right! 」
Joan gloats with one hand holding a wooden mug of sake. The sound of toasts echoed here and there on a small hill where the army of the allied force stood.
In the end, the battle ended up in a split of damage. Thanks to Ardis and the others of Wisteria displaying their strength in the assault, Rodelia’s headquarters plunged into chaos, and the separate unit of the five allied countries achieved great results.
However, it’s the same with the enemies. The woman general of the Rodelia camp magnificently recovered her army in confusion and launched a great counterattack to the allied army.
And thus, the result became a little uncertain but, that’s only if viewing from the allied force’s perspective.
For Wisteria that had joined the battle for personal reasons to beat some sense into the woman general called the Catastrophic Butterfly, it can be said that they had accomplished their goals more than enough.
「It’s a shame we couldn’t claim her head, but we sure taught her what will happen if she belittles mercenaries! 」
「Our comrades that had passed away can also come to peace! 」
「That face she made when we hit her! What a show! 」
「Good job Sark! Today’s spotlight is on you! 」
Of course, it’s not like there was no casualties on their side, but still it was considerably lesser than the previous battle.
It’s natural for mercenaries to die in battles. Fighting properly and dying in the process is something that cannot be avoided. However, they were able to return the favor to the woman general that used them like disposable pawns in this battle.
Certainly, mercenaries are lowly existences from the public’s point of view. Even still, they are human beings that have their own feelings and emotions, not disposable pawns. At the very least, they were able to convey that message to the opponent.
If that’s not a victory, then what is? With the dry sound of wooden mugs hitting together, hitting each other’s back as they celebrated, they washed the blood showered in the battlefield and the negative feelings they carried with alcohol.
In the corner where Wisteria camped, the party continued until late in the night.