Same as Tuesday, Chapter 175 will be released early for my Ko-fi supporters and Patreons! For now there will be one chapter in advance for all tiers. You may login to your accounts and read the next chapter in advance. Enjoy~
Chapter 0174 The Southern Force’s misfortune
The Kingdom’s Expeditionary Force of adventurers was advancing through the forest in the western region of the Duchy.
The western parts of the Duchy were not completely under Union control, but the main roads were.
Therefore, they pushed their way through narrow roads, beast trails, or grass paths that only locals knew.
Although the grandmaster, Finley Forsythe, was the supreme commander, the march was basically divided into five parts: north, south, east, west, and center where the Royal Capital is located.
The east was at the front, followed by the center, then the north and west, and finally the south at the rear.
“Does the grandmaster dislike the south?”
“Ryo, that’s a line you shouldn’t say aloud.”
Ryo asked the question that came to him suddenly and Abel running next to him chided him.
Hugh McGrath, running right behind them, sighed deeply.
“It’s probably my fault anyway. Forsythe hates me.”
The reason why the south was at the rear seemed to be because of Hugh, who was in command of the southern forces.
Ryo and Abel were at the forefront of the Southern Forces. Immediately behind them, Hugh McGrath and Chloe, their Duchy guide from the Intelligence Bureau.
Initially, that position was reserved for the remaining three members of 『Crimson Sword』, but the rapid pace caused them to gradually fall behind …
Despite all of the adventurers having C-rank or higher, except for Ryo, running in the woods was more exhausting than they imagined.
And even now …
“The tail is starting to lag. Should we walk?”
Ryo asked Hugh.
“Yeah, let’s do that.”
Hugh whistled through his fingers sharply.
At that signal, the entire Southern Forces stopped running and started walking.
The reason why they didn’t stop and take a break was to advance as soon as possible.
Of the four in the leading group, three were not out of breath.
However, Chloe, who was dispatched by the Intelligence Bureau as a guide for the Southern Forces, was breathing heavily.
“Chloe, here’s water. Please drink.”
Ryo created a cup of ice and water in it and handed it to Chloe.
She was fairly fatigued but her words of gratitude were clear.
She downed the glass of water in one go.
And she commented to herself.
“As expected … of the Hero of the Great War and B-rank adventurers … I was confident in my physical stamina and movement in the woods, so I volunteered for this role … but it took my all to follow.
“It’s okay, you’re doing alright. The other people behind are barely able to catch up too. These two are just abnormal.”
Ryo said and comforted Chloe.
Chloe was a lovely woman with maroon short hair and eyes of the same color that shifted actively.
She was likely a little over 20 years old? And had two well-maintained daggers on her waist.
She was a little shorter than Ryo, which was probably above average for a woman.
As a member of the Intelligence Bureau, it seemed that she could fight in close combat as needed.
The other expeditionary forces also had intelligence personnel, but all others were men and Chloe was the sole woman.
“I would rather not have ugly men. Since all of you would have the capability, it’s far better to have you here where there are fewer women in the Southern Forces. It seemed that Hugh forcibly pulled Chloe as the guide for the south for that reason.”
“Hey, don’t say such irresponsible words.”
Hugh corrected Ryo as he said words that were borderline sexual harassment and irresponsible.
Upon hearing the exchange, Chloe laughed slightly.
“Laughter is also effective in recovering from fatigue. Hugh, as calculated!”
“I’m hearing that for the first time! I didn’t calculate anything.”
When Hugh said that, Chloe laughed more than before.
Ryo nodded many times when he saw that.
Abel, who was watching the conversation from the side, murmured.
“Ryo is tactful in these types of situations.”
Abel was honestly impressed.
“So why is Hugh hated by the grandmaster?”
Grateful that they were now walking, Ryo asked Hugh the question.
“You’re back to that? Well, to put it simply, I declined to talk about marrying Forsythe’s daughter.”
Hugh replied and Ryo opened his eyes wide and stared at Hugh.
His appearance of walking in front and turning only his face toward Hugh was quite surreal.
Chloe, who was walking next to Hugh, looked at Hugh with a little surprise.
Only Abel sighed lightly and walked on. Apparently he knew.
“Is it … that the grandmaster’s daughter … that … you didn’t like her appearance …?”
He had to be careful about his words …
Not that the concept of sexual harassment exists on 『Phi』.
However, it is not because gender equality had not caught on, but on the contrary, because women’s power was considerably stronger here compared to on Earth.
Indeed, men are often stronger than women in terms of muscle strength, but 『Phi』 has 『magic』.
There seemed to be some research showing that women have a slightly greater affinity for magic than men, and there were more women among magic users.
In occupations that deal with death closely, such as the Knight Orders, the Magician groups, and adventurers, ability is naturally the deciding factor so career advancement delays or discrimination ‘because he’s is a man’ or ‘because she’s a woman’ never happens.
In such a world, women were strong enough.
You had to be careful with words.
A mistake in word choice could spell immediate death.
“Appearances … Miss Elsie is one of the most beautiful women in the Royal Capital.”
Hugh replied, remembering something.
Ryo continued to ask more questions, tilting his head.
“The family of the grandmaster … Yes, the social status doesn’t match or isn’t enough for Hugh, who is called the Hero of the Great War …”
“Forsythe is a well-established aristocrat with the rank of Count, and Elsie is his only daughter. The man who becomes his son-in-law will succeed to the Count position.”
Hugh sighed and answered Ryo’s question.
Ryo’s neck tilted further.
“Oh! Elsie-san’s feelings for Hugh-san … hmm, she likes a man with more of a slender, aristocratic feel?”
“You’re somewhat mistaken, Elsie likes men with fierce looks like me.”
Hugh replied with a deeper sigh.
And Ryo’s neck was tilted almost at a right angle by now.
“So why did you decline?”
Ryo had no idea why he refused.
Such a good match …
“It was three years ago. At that time I was 36. Elsie was 18 years old. I thought it was too pitiful to marry me, who is nearly 20 years older than her.”
Hugh’s answer was that.
How trivial …
Yes, it was nonsensical.
Love transcends the difference in years!
Ryo thought, but he refrained from saying it.
Hugh McGrath was a guildmaster, Ryo’s boss.
He had to support his boss.
Ryo nodded while thinking so, remarking to himself how open-minded he had become.
Hugh, who was watching him, said.
“Ryo, I’m certain you thought it was nonsensical.”
Ryo was really surprised.
The Hero’s insight was not just for show.
“Ah, but the chaos that happened in the royal capital …”
When he said that, even Ryo realized that he made a slip of the tongue.
If they were aristocrats living in the royal capital, they would have been caught up in the chaos …
“Oh … it’s okay, they were not involved. It seemed that Elsie was going to the west at that time. Or, was it Twilightland? Well, anyway, they were not in the royal capital.”
However, Ryo’s interest was more towards the word he heard than Elsie’s safety.
“Twilightland … A country in twilight? So cool …”
“I’ve never heard anyone call Twilightland a country in twilight … It’s a country southwest of the Kingdom. It’s a young country, founded a hundred years ago. It was a big deal because they pioneered and founded the country in an area where no one lived.”
(The ‘Twilight’ in Twilightland isn’t translated into twilight … in that case, who named the country …?)
(TLN: Twilightland is in English, and was not translated to mean twilight, the time right before sunrise or after sunset, in Phi language.)
Another unsolvable mystery was born in Ryo.
The Southern Forces continued walking.
Then, Ryo’s <Passive Sonar> reacted as he walked at the forefront.
“Hugh, battle, 400 meters ahead.”
Ryo reported and Hugh acknowledged before he sharply blew into his finger.
With the finger whistle as a signal, the Southern Forces gathered around Hugh.
They numbered seventy.
Landenvia, the guildmaster of Acre, who was in charge of the rear, caught up and the entire Southern Forces were ready.
“It seems that there is fighting 400 meters ahead. Depending on the situation, we may have to force our way through. I called everyone to convey this.”
Hugh announced with a lack of expression.
Normally, there would be criticisms such as ‘Are you abandoning your allies?’, but everyone knew that Hugh would not do that for no reason. ..
The title 『Hero of the Great War』 had a tremendous effect, especially on the battlefield.
“The reason is that the battle between the Duchy and the Union may have already begun on the main battlefield. I want to leave the border as soon as possible.”
Chloe of the Duchy Intelligence Bureau responded to Hugh’s words with wide eyes.
“Anyway, we shall advance to the battle area. When we arrive, we will observe the situation. The formation is the same as before. Landenvia, I leave the rear to you. We would be crushed if we get surrounded with just our numbers.”
It was common sense in a march to have reliable units at the front and rear.
Attacking the rear was the easiest and most reliable strategy for anyone who wishes to crush their opponent so Hugh assigned the positions to counter that.
At the forefront, the sole B-rank party Crimson Sword and Abel.
At the rear, former B-rank adventurer Landenvia.
‘B-rank’ was valuable.
Even the ‘Southern Forces’, which had adventurers centered around Acre, the largest city in the south, and Rune, the largest city in the frontier, the only active B-rank party that could participate was the Crimson Sword.
However, that was still a good thing, and the number of B-rank party participants in each region was one in the eastern forces and one in the central forces. Zero in the north and west.
Of course, no A-rank party participated.
In the first place, there is only one active A-rank party in the Kingdom belonging to the royal capital.
And this time, they didn’t participate.
According to an adventurer belonging to the royal capital, the party was stopped from participating in the war by those ‘above’ … When he heard that story, Ryo tilted his head.
He understood the need to stop the Knight Orders from joining the war, but the reason to stop adventurers … maybe they thought this expedition would not succeed.
Or simply, now that the Knights of the Kingdom have been destroyed, the armed forces in the royal capital were considerably less, so even if they are adventurers, as A-rank, they wanted to keep them at hand … was that the idea? ..
That was also one of the unanswered mysteries.
A few minutes later, the Southern Forces reached the outer edge of the battle.
The battle was taking place in a fairly open area in the woods.
The Southern Forces checked the situation while hiding in the woods.
“Muddy swamp …”
Ryo muttered unintentionally.
Adventurers were desperately defending against long-range attacks in areas where the ground under their feet have turned into mud.
The Union forces did not charge in and surrounded them as they stuck to using long-range attacks.
“Such muddy ground didn’t exist here …”
Chloe told Hugh in a soft voice.
Chloe was born in the western part of the Duchy, seemed to have grown up around this forest, and had a fairly detailed map of the forest terrain in her head.
“In other words, a Union trap. To create a swamp of that size, you’ll probably need thirty Earth-Attribute Magicians. Unless that is a number they can gather readily, the Adventurers here were led to this spot.”
Hugh calmly judged the situation.
Not only Hugh, but the Southern Forces adventurers observing the situation were not impatient.
It was true that the adventurers were trapped and attacked unilaterally, but they were also forming what seemed to be formations and were strengthening their defenses centered on Magicians.
They should hold up for a while.
“Ryo, look around. Focusing on the placement of enemies and especially if there are horses.”
To Hugh’s instructions, Ryo once again focused on <Passive Sonar> and then reported.
“The enemies are divided into the north and south parts of the swamp. There are 200 people each. There is the same number of unoccupied horses beyond their positions.”
“Horses without riders? They aren’t cavalry?”
“Maybe those were the horses of the ones attacking now? It looks like they got off their horses and switched to long-range attacks.”
Ryo made a guess.
“Horses used only for movement? That’s convenient. We’ll rush the enemy on the south side from the side and crush them. After that, we’ll take their horses and rush to the City of Fion where the Duchy’s army is. Once the southern foes collapse, the adventurers in the swamp will break through on their own.”
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