Damn, 100 chapters already. I’ve read ahead and there are some… pretty surprising turns of events.
Btw, for those of you who did not see last week’s edit of chapter 99, here is an illustration I translated for you guys.
Anyway here’s the chapter, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
In the end, the attack Leclerc had been looking out for never came.
The punitive force reached Strasbourg’s castle without a hitch.
As a result, a feeling of great self-conceit thoroughly seeped into the soldiers led by Lagrange and the other nobles.
【”Our enemies are traitors! Kill without mercy!”】
【”If we rack up enough achievements, there will be no end to our rewards!”】
Contrarily to the hostile punitive force that was already talking about achievements and rewards; counting their chickens before they hatched, the forces on Strasbourg’s side were acting slow and dull.
They were fighting to preserve their lives, but on an emotional level, they did not want to kill their fellow countrymen.
They were barely able to keep up their fighting spirits due to being inside the stronghold that was the Strasbourg castle, but it was blatantly obvious that Strasbourg would not last more than three days before starting to see deserters.
【”Settle down! An attack of this level cannot bring down our castle!”】
Despite the circumstances, Strasbourg’s only saving grace was the army that Benedict had trained with all his being.
When the siege began, they managed to repel the punitive force’s waves of attacks, causing them a significant amount of damage in the process.
Their defense was akin to a sturdy iron wall. Even Leclerc, who had a reputation for his solid strategies, voiced his admiration.
However, there was an inviolable rule in sieges that said repelling an enemy did not mean obtaining a victory.
The forces’ morale was never going to rise from merely preventing the enemy from attacking. The only victory worth noting would be one stemming from taking the initiative and going on the offensive.
But no matter how well they battled, soldiers could not fight with no single hope of winning.
In that sense, the morale of Strasbourg’s army was already dangerously close to crumbling down.
(Damn it… They’re still not done? At this rate we’ll…)
Benedict kept calmly commanding his forces, but it was not until cold sweat started appearing on his back that Lagrange and the other nobles’ men stopped attacking.
Benedict quickly swung his right hand as a signal to pursue the enemies in their retreat.
No matter what, the most vulnerable time for an army was the time they turned their back on the enemy to retreat.
―― But at that moment.
The army led by Leclerc had been lying in wait, ready to intervene at the right moment to protect the nobles’ forces in their retreat.
Having already anticipated that, Benedict steeled his resolve.
Leclerc was renowned as a general for his defensive strategies. Going for a counterattack against him was far too dangerous.
Benedict roared at his soldiers, knowing that this was a decisive point.
【”Mercenaries, leave these ones to me, and go! If you bring down the soldiers running away, I will give you whatever rewards you want!”】
The mercenary forces rushed forth like a tide that was about to devour the nobles’ soldiers, while Benedict turned towards the kingdom’s personal forces, led by Leclerc, which were currently advancing in an orderly fashion.
The nobles’ personal forces were outnumbered and did not have the perseverance to resist much of anything. If Leclerc’s soldiers could be brought down, the likes of Lagrange would be nothing.
Benedict strengthened his frontline by throwing in the last reserve forces he had prepared.
However, Leclerc’s resolve was no lower than his.
【”Do not fret! Justice is on our side!”】
The morale of the kingdom’s soldiers was sky high.
Despite still having provisions in reserve, the Strasbourg army had gotten tired in the few days of battle that had led to this moment.
Meanwhile, the forces led by Leclerc still retained their strength as they had not wasted any energy so far.
Strasbourg’s army was under quite the pressure.
【”Push them back!”】
Despite the circumstances, Benedict had to make a decision to deal with the unforeseen difficulties of the battle.
He had originally planned to wear down Leclerc’s forces and then look for an opportunity to play his trump card. However, the pressure exerted by Leclerc was beyond anything he expected.
Moreover, the morale of Strasbourg’s army had reached a dangerous low. If not for Benedict’s precise commands, Strasbourg’s defensive lines would have crumbled a long while ago.
(At this point… All I can do is gamble!)
Benedict wished he would have cut off the enemy’s supply line or worn them down at a much earlier stage.
Swallowing up all such regrets, he called his adjutant.
【”Do not aim for victory. Just resist for a while. I’ll be stepping out!”】
【”What? …Is he going to open the castle gate? Does this mean he intends to surrender?”】
Contrarily to the optimism in his words, Leclerc’s expression was grim.
His many long years of experience as well as his natural intuition were sounding off alarms, telling him there was something abnormal involving the castle gate.
Some of his soldiers had already crossed the castle’s walls and were currently engaging the enemy in hand to hand combat.
He felt he would be able to fully take over the castle in a matter of a few hours.
And yet, Strasbourg’s side was choosing to neglect the castle’s walls in order to make a sortie… This definitely meant they were about to pull out their trump card.
Following Benedict’s roar, a group of men wearing massive armors, reaching heights of about 2.5 meters (8.2 feet), moved out of the castle’s gate like arrows out of a bow.
Built through the Magic Rider technology partially shared by the Asgard empire, these were Strasbourg’s own original Magic Mechanical Armors, named Alphonse.
Their mobility, the power of their charge, as well as their defense, were all leagues above any heavy cavalry the world had known so far.
In a matter of seconds, they stepped forth like a tide of elephants, trampling the soldiers on the frontline of the kingdom, turning them into lumps of meat.
Faced with the excessively high power of collision of the Alphonse model, even Leclerc’s soldiers were not spared from being shaken.
Save for Kurats, who had fought it back in Lapland, no one in the Jormungand kingdom had ever seen Asgard’s own model of Magic Rider, Chaos.
And there was no army in the world that wouldn’t fall into confusion upon being suddenly trampled down by unknown weapons.
【”There will be no going back without their general’s neck!”】
Benedict, who had taken the league of this armored force, did not pay any attantion to the regular soldiers of the kingdom.
He was fully focused on advancing further ahead.
The truth was that the number of Alphonse armors available was still quite low as of now, and the technology did not allow for it to function longer than a short time.
Benedict had to do everything in his power to get results in that short time frame.
And if that result could be the head of Leclerc, then all the better.
This was why he had waited for Leclerc to show himself on the frontline before revealing this trump card.
This phase was very important. It would bring his soldiers the hope of winning that they would need in order to take on their own kingdom as an enemy without self-destructing.
――A little bit later.
Benedict was coming closer to the enemy’s headquarters.
At this point, the Alphonse armors were 30% used up.
Some had been destroyed, others stopped working because of dysfunctionalities, but there were still enough of them to hold on as a considerable force.
【”General Leclerc! You better brace yourself!”】
The hundreds of soldiers riding Alphonse models were an overwhelming tide, rushing towards the enemy’s headquarters.
From an outsider perspective, Benedict’s victory was all but assured.
――However, upon reaching the headquarters, there was no sign of the target, Leclerc.
Let alone Leclerc himself, not even his guards were here.
The spot was completely empty.
The excessively orderly state of the place let Benedict know he had been played.
【”No! Did Leclerc already expect all this?!”】
【”Line of sight, ready.”】
【”Magic convergence, done.”】
【”Magic amplification channel, activated.”】
【”…Unfortunately for you, you’re not the only one who brought a trump card.”】
Having successfully seen through the enemy’s last resort, Leclerc showed a daring grin.
He was about to introduce the trump card he had set up at the very rear of his forces.
This was a spall that took advantage of a new, ground-breaking technology that could dramatically amplify magic power through the use of monster materials.
The mage soldiers sent for assistance by the kingdom’s mage order all set up a formation together and used it to fire the enormous spell.
【”―― Sovereign fire, Surtr Lævateinn.”】
A high temperature beam, compressed to the very limit, was fired at the Alphonse models, clashing against their extraordinary magic defenses.
【”Activate your magic barriers at maximum power!”】
【”I-it’s useless! We cannot block it!”】
Although the Alphonse model had high heat-resistance, they barely held on a for a few seconds before gradually melting.
In shock, Benedict could do nothing but look on powerlessly as he lost his trump cards, along with the many efforts and money put behind them.
【”―― Forgive me, miss Felbell.”】
He had never sought any reward out of this battle. The one thing he did want was for Felbell to be happy.
But at this instant, he no longer had the means to protect her.
If he was about to lose his life, then he wished to at least use the time he had left to pray for Felbell.
It was absolutely impossible for him to obtain victory with his remaining forces anyway.
【”The enemy’s trump card has been eliminated. Take them out at once!”】
Leclerc was convinced that the flow of the battle was entirely leaning in his direction by this point.
All that was left to do in order to bring down Strasbourg was to take advantage of this opportunity to attack.
Adding to that, the nobles’ forces, which had been under the pursuit of the mercenaries, were about ready to come back.
In a sense, Leclerc was right to be optimistic, but at the same time, in a different sense, he was completely wrong.
He believed the victory was already determined ―― And it indeed would have been, if Albert had been the only enemy.
【”―― So boring. They can’t even win against such small fry?”】
What even Benedict had not anticipated was the last resort that Albert absolutely did not want to use.
The Red Jaguar force, led by the mad princess Skuld, started moving out like they were out for a stroll.