I’m Sorry, Onii-sama! V3C1
The Absence of the Villainess, and the Man Prepared for Death
Due to the efforts of the Fifth Knight Company, we succeeded in recapturing the fortress.
But that had the consequence of cutting off the retreat path of the detached force that was spread through the forest.
Many smoke signals rose into the air, requesting aid, but as time passed, the number of those decreased, and finally, not a single one was left.
When I sent the dispatch to the authorities, stating that I would be heading out to rescue them, I was ordered to stand by for a while———I had believed that a rescue force was being organised.
The next morning, the messenger that came to deliver the directive that it was decided to abandon her, abandon the ‘keystone of our defense’, did not show a single change in expression
While I was taking a nap, hearing it grow noisy outside the door, it might be an attack, I leapt up.
It’s not impossible.
Right after recapturing the fortress, we are the ones that are fatigued.
It wouldn’t be strange for them to attack before we could reorganise ourselves.
I stopped a soldier that was jogging somewhere in a hurry, and once he recognised who the knight that just stopped him was, he asked me to hurry and brought me to the source of the commotion.
I mixed into the crowd in the dining hall and at the center, I saw my best friend, the captain and———
“We are acting to confirm her current location. It is not something for you to worry about.”
“Confirm, then what? When will relief be sent?”
“That is rude. Stand down Gilford.”
He faltered at the captain’s low voice and closed his mouth for an instant, but brushed off the captain’s hand and once again shouted at the messenger.
Seeing how the messenger ignored him with a fed-up expression, it is easy to tell that this argument has been repeated many times already.
——with these people, the problem would be about Origa. Seeing as how stepping in recklessly would just make things needlessly complicated, I chose to wait and see.
“Enough. I said we are investigating what happened to her. We can send troops to confirm once it has been confirmed that the enemy has retreated.”
“Does that, mean you are giving up on saving the magician force led by Origa-dono?”
“You can interpret it as such. The captain has no complaints either right?”
My lips tasted faintly of blood as a I bit on them.
A knight company that has just been established. But, it is just a knight company in name.
We were made to carry out operations with no means of dealing with magic-sealing stones, yet we succeeded, but only due to Gil’s strange magic.
Originally, we were just a pawn meant to buy time.
Even if we racked up achievements, it is still just a mob led by a captain that rose from the peasants.
The captain understands that they effectively had no right to speak and could only clench his fist and stay silent.
“There are allies asking for aid before our eyes! They are at a distance where they can be saved! ……why do you abandon them!”
“This has been decided. Right now, we cannot afford to expose this fortress to any danger. I feel bad for Origa-dono, but we cannot hand over the fortress to collect corpses.”
It was something everyone was thinking somewhere in their hearts.
The signals requesting for aid have been cut off since quite a while ago.
The last confirmed number of magicians through the telescope, was just three——and even that, was half a day ago.
Before the impact of the messenger’s words could spread through the soldiers, a cold voice rang loudly through the room.
“Origa is alive.”
Silence fell, the messenger realised his own slip and cleared his throat.
“……excuse me. But, there has been no signs of fire magic being used since a while ago. It would be logical to judge that she is dead.”
The last battle that could be confirmed from the fortress, was a violent one.
It is three days after the fortress fell.
It is difficult to keep fighting for any magician if they had to keep using magic without resting properly after running out of food.
The magic used by magicians is powerful, but the structure of their body is no different from a normal human.
Everybody knows that.
That is why, there is no credibility to the claim that she is still alive.
“Origa, is still alive.”
Gilford seemed to know that he didn’t have the power to convince others of his own words, he just rested a hand on the messenger’s shoulder and muttered that, hanging his head.
Seeing him still saying that, the blonde messenger sighed and spread his arms wide, first facing Gilford, then facing the audience, he spoke in a loud voice.
“Then who do you want to send to rescue her? If we reduce the forces in this fortress, our country will fall into danger again. ——surely you don’t mean to say something reckless like you will go?”
“Ridiculous. The fact that you have succeeded in destroying magic-sealing stones might be the hope of the country. Making clear the method to destroy them is the priority.”
Isn’t that right? He looked around, and seeing as nobody responded, he showed an unpleasant smile, as if he had won.
“It is an age where magicians aren’t useful anyway. How useful will she be even if we waste the lives of precious troops to save her?”
Hearing those words, I finally decided.
“——then, I’ll go. I won’t force anyone, but someone please help me. It will be tough alone.”
Once I spoke up, the crowd parted and I could walk to stand before the people in the center of the chaos.
Once I reported my name to the messenger who had on a doubtful expression, his eyes opened in surprise.
“I am a magician. Since there are magic-sealing stones on the battlefield, I am not useful as par of the fighting force.”
“There is no such thing……! You are the heir of the Harvester family, you must not treat your life so carelessly.”
“The Harvesters are a magician clan. I believe it was you who said that magicians are useless on the battlefield……that is what you meant right?”
When I countered with his own words, he shut his mouth tightly with an uneasy expression.
‘Putting weight on status and discrimination on the battlefield, there should be a limit of how ridiculous you can be’, I snorted.
The other white-haired messenger that had been watching the developments voiced an objection in a hard voice.
“But, isn’t her chances of survival hopeless? It is too wasteful to send troops for her alone.”
“That is foolish. Even if the marquis died in battle, she is a noblewoman connected to the royal family and unarguably the hero of our country. This is a problem that concerns the morale of the entire country. To honour her death, we should go reclaim her.”
If Origa is dead, then heading to the battlefield now will be in vain and the chances of me, a magician, dying is high.
Thinking normally, Origa Emelda Rujil is dead.
The last battle that could be confirmed was a day ago and there has been no sign of magic being used at all after that.
Even I have half given up on her being alive.
But, if Gil, the one who had that scar burned into him by her, says it———
“And, personally——I will bet on Gil. She is not dead.
Origa is probably still alive.
When I grinned, Gil opened his eyes wide in surprise and the white-haired man raised a finger, ‘one more thing’.
“Then, let us say you go to save her and lose your life, what will we do? Since the previous head has been lost at this fortress, even if you do not have the title of marquis, you are the current head of the Harvesters. Do you not have the responsibility of leading a clan of magicians?”
The white-haired man’s question moved a heavy stone deep in my heart.
The responsibility as the leader of a clan.
The heavy duty I have towards a clan that includes many magicians that support the country.
The burden that many generations have shouldered before me, the shackles that don’t feel real.
Once I say it, once I admit it, I will be denying the path I have walked, I will be denying the path father has struggled through.
But even so, as I continued, a smile came to my lips.
I had run and run and run since long ago.
Even though I had been frightened by the sight of my friend suffering under that weight, neglected it, and aimed for the path of a knight.
“The Harvester blood is too thin. Our clan is already declining. The number of magicians that can bear the name of the clan can already be counted on one hand. I still don’t have children——because of that, even my cousin should be able to handle it. I name him as the successor.”
Once I said it, what a funny thing.
——since long ago, the Harvesters were no longer a ‘clan of magicians’.
The heavy chain that I should have inherited from father, has already rusted away like the other clans.
Considering the new age, my presence would just be trouble for the people connected to the marquis family.
If I am the last, then I should be allowed to lend a hand to my friend(comrade) that is still suffering.
“…….do as you like.”
“Be quiet. If you continue to insult Harvester-dono any further, I will have to report it to the higher ups.”
The blonde soldier fell silent with the white-haired soldier’s words.
——it is decided.
Then just one more step, I turned my eyes towards him who stood by my side.
I pulled the arm of my best friend, who is also insisting that he will go too, and whispered in his ear.
“Gil, listen. Even father was left to die. The higher ups have no intention of saving magicians.”
Even though it was the marquis, the head of the Harvesters that was protecting the fortress when it was attacked, aid was delayed.
The result was that the fort which mainly garrisoned by magicians fell.
Was it the actions of the traitors? Or was it due to hatred of magicians? I couldn’t judge before, but it seems to be the latter.
But, even if they hate magicians, if there is an existence that can destroy the cause of this overwhelmingly disadvantageous situation————just like how the white-haired man responded, they will close their eyes towards saving Origa.
“Their goal is you. Buy as much time as possible. Please.”
Confirming his muttered acknowledgement after a pause, I drew away.
‘Take this’, I smiled and nodded as I stuffed the small bundle he handed me, Gil then muttered, ‘I leave her to you’.
I have a rough grasp of what Origa did to him.
But even so, whether he continues to worry about her as a younger sister is because of his bottomless kindness, or because he has seen through to her true nature——that conclusion has been made quite a while ago.
When Gil told me the ‘secret’, I had thought, ‘if you are going to push him away, do it more completely’.
Finding it slightly funny, I turned around towards the messenger who was indifferently telling the captain that there had been an agreement that they will be taking charge of Gil, and spoke in a clearly unnatural way, ‘Ah, oh yeah’.
“Examine Gilford Iviris in my land.”
The two messengers showed surprised expressions at my words.
“Isn’t there the land that was just gifted to me by his majesty as a reward for recapturing the fortress?”
“Bu, but is that not too close to the front lines? Gilford Iviris-dono can influence how the war turns out——”
“If you cannot accept this condition, then I have no means of convincing Gilford. Since this is not a royal order, my apologies, but please spend time and convince this stonehead yourself. Not that I think he will obediently and seriously respond to what you have to say.”
The information that he succeeded in destroying a magic-sealing stone should have reached the capital right after the recapture of the fortress.
But, perhaps due to complicated procedures, Gilford has not been officially recalled with a royal order.
As such, his mission should still be the royal order of ‘protect the fortress with the fifth knight company’.
If he is to be mobilised outside of this mission, that would require befitting compromise.
When I directed my gaze to the white-haired shoulder who seems to be more understanding, he relectantly nedded.
When I turned towards the captain who had been silently watching the proceedings, he nodded and declared that he has witnessed the negotiations.
His testimony’s credibility might be doubted based on problems of status.
The captain, is someone with no official backing, a weak existence.
But he is someone who has led me when I was always lost, allowed me my chosen path, an existence stronger and more reliable than anyone else.
With father gone, he is the only one I can only believe in and entrust my best friend to.
“Captain, please take care of the rest.”
Seeing the captain nod lightly with a grim face, I felt nostalgic as I deeply lowered my head.
Since I am leaping into the battlefield as a magician, I might no longer be able to meet this teacher.
Once I lifted my head and reported my departure, I shook off any sentimentality.
“It is as you heard! Someone help me!”
When I called out to the silent audience, their gazes wandered around.
If they went to save Origa, there is no guarentee of coming back alive.
In the first place, we don’t even know if she is alive.
As those that think of the country, as a knight, they should prioritise defending the fortress than the life of one person.
Even if they are magicians——no, exactly because they are magicians, if they go beyond this fortress and there is magic-sealing stones, it is battlefield where they will definitely die.
It would take a strange person to volunteer, it would be good if even one person stepped up.
“I will be the diversion.”
“……it will be dangerous.”
A woman with short hair slipped through the crowd and came forward.
I’ve seen her somewhere before, as I thought that, she identified herself as Origa’s servant.
If she is a Rujil, wouldn’t she prioritise the new head that will be chosen rather than Origa who might be dead? When I asked that, the woman gave a small smile, and answered no.
“Before the fact that she is the current head of the Rujils, I owe her the debt of selecting me. If Origa-sama can be saved, magic-sealing stones are not a threat. I am not just a Rujil———please, use my life.”
Seeing the woman kneel and request that, a few magicians and knights followed.
Everyone of them said that Origa had extended a hand to them in the past.
I looked around to see if there were any others that would volunteer, and then declared that I do not blame them, to those with their eyes lowered.
And in exchange for my best friend——for Gilford’s person, I got permission to rescue her.
Magic-sealing stones started appearing on the battlefield three, four years ago, by now, magicians have lost any means to deal with them properly.
Even just attacking normal soldiers, if the enemy has magic-sealing stones, the magic would disappear with no resistance.
Because of this situation, magicians are now each assigned to a platoon and serves as support, but non-magicians, the normal soldiers and knights do not think well of them.
Furthermore, intermediate class magicians are looked down on as baggage on the front lines.
The once brilliant age of magicians, has ended.
That friend will not get hurt easily, but she is a woman, and has not received the same training a normal soldier has.
No matter how skilled she is in magic, it would be a hard fight if she was surrounded by enemy soldiers with magic-sealing stones.
No matter how skilled a magician, if she uses magic continuously without rest, she will reach the limits of her mana and there is even a chance of death.
This is a problem of time.
That is why Gil, who believed in Origa being alive that much, was so frantic.
As I ran through the thicket with my body bent low to the ground, I heard a roar.
Turning around a little, I could see a red pillar of flame rise up.
The volume and power of the flame all display her undeniable skill.
But, although it does resemble the power of Origa’s fire——it will not deceive the enemy for long.
The difference between the woman that said she was Origa’s servant and Origa, is not the techniques refined through long years of training.
Origa’s most unique trait, is her bottomless mana which is said to be inexhaustible.
So much mana, that the vessel, Origa, cannot endure it.
That is something that it is impossible to estimate how many hundreds of years mere magicians would have to train to reach her level.
I felt someone touch the thin ivy I had laid out across the ground to detect enemies.
Hiding my body behind a tree trunk which is of the perfect size, I pulled on the thin ivy and confirmed the number of people touching the ivy laid around.
———one behind that rock, four among the trees.
I touched the sword fastened to my hip as I settled my breathing, and started weaving magic.
I will not lose to just this number of people with a sword, but if it drags out and causes a ruckus, I will be surrounded by reinforcements.
It is possible knock them all out at once with magic, but if there are soldiers with magic-sealing stones, then the instant I hold back, I will definitely be at a disadvantage.
After slight hesitation, I removed my hand from my sword.
If I am to do it, it has to be in one shot.
I leapt out from behind the trunk and lashed out with a whip, but before it could take down its target———it was burnt away by brilliant flames in an instant.
As I rolled to the side to dodge the fireballs that followed, the screams of men came from the trees to the front.
The silhouette of the figure that unsteadily came out from behind the rock, was familiar.
The pinnacle, the symbol of magicians, the keystone of the country’s defence.
Always filled with confidence, always reliable, and always unwavering.
But the eyes of my friend as she turned around, were empty.
Her left arm was dyed a deeper red than her eyes.
Blood dripped from the fingers of her limply hanging left hand.
Covered all over with blood and dirt, Origa stood there with a pale face.