One morning, I didn’t hear the familiar low tolling sound of the bell. Kan, kan, I heard a high-pitched sound of metal being struck, and the sound was gradually increasing in volume. It was a daunting sound that enhanced tension, is what I thought. It must be a type of warning to inform us about something approaching.
When I opened my eyes, it was still dark inside my room. Outside the window, it was still a blurry dark blue sky. It’s before dawn. The metallic sound was increasing in momentum, rather than stopping. I got off my bed with a buzzing sound inside me.
Just as I had taken off my nightclothes and was putting on my tunic, there was a hasty sounding knock on my door. Rather than a polite knock, it sounded much duller, almost like someone was swinging their fist against the door. It was the first time I’ve heard such a knock, I couldn’t help but gulp.
“Viscountess Kaldia, it’s me, Ergnade! Please open the door immediately if you’re dressed!”
Ergnade who was usually calm was shouting anxiously from the other side of the door. It’s someone I know, but I only felt slightly relieved.
“I’ll be right there!”
As I hurriedly finished putting on my tunic and removed the bar from the door, Ergnade entered with great momentum. Even with the light from the torches in the corridor, it was still rather hazy inside my room.
“Listen, it’s the Densel army. On the other side of the Great Plains, the Densel army has made their camp!”
At the news of the Densel army making camp, I was so surprised that even though I knew it wouldn’t be visible from here, I couldn’t help but look out the window. On the other side of this fort’s walls, was the flat, wide Great Plains. I could only vaguely make it out.
“The draconis here detected their scents. We’ll be sending out a reconnaissance unit once it’s sunrise, and prepare for battle. Where’s your battle gear?”
As he was saying so, Ergnade rummaged through my room without my permission. In a box in the corner of the room, Ergnade found what he just asked, as he went through all its contents.
“This it? ……Alright, put it on. Let’s get going right away, Earl Einsbark is waiting for you.”
As I nodded, I felt like I was having an out of body experience. There was a tense feeling in my stomach, and my voice felt like it was stuck in my throat. By the time that I finally understood the situation and got ahold of myself, Ergnade was carrying me off in the opposite direction from where we usually went with large strides.
There’s still quite some time before it’s dawn. The golden sun was just barely beginning to peek out from the direction of the Monster Forest, when Ergnade and I arrived at a room in the fort. It was a room that was sparsely decorated, just like the iron windows in it.
“Has she arrived?”
“Yes, she’s here with me.”
Ergnade let me off, and I staggered a few steps. Because I had been shaken a bit, I felt slightly dizzy still.
“……Are you alright, Viscountess Kaldia?”
“Y, yes. I’m fine.”
Now that I no longer feel like I’m being spun around, I had no problem standing properly and bowing neatly. Earl Einsbark nodded as he seemed to check over my appearance, and motioned for me to take a seat over on the sofa. Ergnade and I both sat down across from Earl Einsbark. There was a table in between us, on which a map of the surrounding territory was spread.
On the map, to the east of Fort Jugfena, in the middle of the Great Plains, there were toys that probably represented the enemy soldiers placed there. Also, there were pieces representing enemy forces to the north, in the Bandishia Plateau as well, although their intentions were currently unknown. This is probably about the Densel army unit that’s chasing the Shiru tribe.
“We sent out a reconnaissance unit the moment that the draconis detected the Densel army’s presence, but currently we only know that they’ve made camp there and are unsure of their exact numbers.”
There was a tiny toy piece in Earl Einsbark’s hand. He placed it next to the pieces on the Great Plain. It seems to represent the scout unit he sent out.
“The draconis were unexpectedly helpful in locating them this early.”
Bastards, muttered Ergnade under his breath.
As I looked at the pieces on the map, I was impressed with how everything was. In the name of chasing down the rebel Shiru tribe, they’ve made camp all the way here and pincered them. To chase less than 50 members of a nomadic tribe here, it’s such a grand undertaking. Even Earl Einsbark seemed daunted.
At the very minimum, it seems there’s at least 300 soldiers chasing the Shiru tribe. For any more troops than that to be deployed here and camping right next to our borders, it would be quite daring of them, basically an outright declaration of war.
Since the draconis were able to detect them, we were able to be on guard. So this represents the Densel army, I felt a terribly cold feeling as I stared at the pieces representing them.
“……It seems like the sun is up now.”
Earl Einsbark happened to look out the window and made that comment. Just at that moment, someone knocked on the door to the room, and a knight entered after he was granted permission.
“Reporting in, the scout unit has returned! The Densel army numbers about 700, and it seems that they have siege engines in their camp!”
“Unbelievable, does Densel really intend to declare war on our country!?”
Ergnade stood up and shouted in anger. I looked at the map again. If Rindarl didn’t unite together, there was no way that Densel alone would have declared war on Arxia. As I thought about what it probably meant, I looked up and saw Earl Einsbark looking at me as if he was seeing something interesting.
In the blink of an eye, he changed his focus away from me, and the earl stood up.
“Tell Volmar to have the soldiers lined up in front of the fort’s walls.”
His voice was quite severe. I couldn’t help but straighten my back.
The soldier bowed and exited the room. A moment of silence filled the room.
“Viscountess Kaldia, prepare yourself and head to in front of the fort’s walls with Ergnade. If you have anything to tell me about your army first, I’ll listen to it now.”
Earl Einsbark nodded once, sighed heavily, and left the room.
War is now imminent, a stone’s throw away from becoming reality. Although I was tense to the point of clutching my fists, I felt no elation at all, nor did I feel anything like fear yet. As I confirmed to myself how surprisingly calm I was, I nodded to myself.
– At last, this day has come. It finally happened on the morning of the 21st day since I’ve come to Fort Jugfena.