The few days after that weren’t anything special in particular .
Although reports that Yururogu’s army had left Luberuteiyu and was in the course of advancing southwards came in periodically, since the plan of Haiderota’s army, which had gathered in Delbrück, was decided to be holding the castle, it seemed relatively calm .
At the very least, it was reflected so in Valeria’s eyes .
That day, numerous plates of sumptuous cuisines such as the roast of a calf covered with gravy and lobsters boiled to a bright red were lined up on the dinner table, but a piece of paper that came at the last moment caused Clotilde’s complexion to change completely .
「s.h.i.+ps of unknown affiliation…?」
Clotilde, who had looked over the report, openly knitted her eyebrows and put down her fork .
「What’s the matter, Diaghilev-geika? Is there something you’re worried about?」
Isaac who was cutting into a meat cutlet of a beaver’s tail, which was also a local speciality of Haiderota, glanced at Clotilde who had looked downwards with a pensive look on her face .
「In the first place, the s.h.i.+ps you mentioned are?」
「…I’ve received a report from fishermen living on the sh.o.r.es of Rübel River saying that they saw several s.h.i.+ps advancing towards the lakes and marshes region . This information is already from three days ago though」
Brus.h.i.+ng her long hair up, Clotilde returned to her seat .
「If these are the s.h.i.+ps that Euchemard had prepared, where could they be about this time—」
「You worry too much, Your Eminence」
Holding his wine gla.s.s up high, Sigibert smiled .
「—In any case, the enemy’s main force isn’t cavalry . We already knew that the troops of the enemy, which is centred on infantry, are marching towards us from Luberuteiyu . If we take the infantry’s movement speed into consideration, no matter how they hurry, their arrival should be after tomorrow’s morning . Starting the war will probably be after it’s close to noon, when the fog clears up, to avoid friendly fire」
Tossing the juicy veal together with the raifort (horseradish) into his mouth, Sigibert poured the wine personally .
「—They’re most likely transporting provisions or weapons on those s.h.i.+ps; it must be that sort of things, I’m sure of it」
While everyone was discussing this and that, Dimitar continued to eat silently by himself . It wasn’t because he was displeased or feeling unwell; he was probably pondering something deeply .
Valeria looked at Dimitar with a sidelong glance while eating a capon meat pie .
「…Are you worrying about something?」Advertis.e.m.e.nt
「Why are you asking such a thing?」
「You’re making that sort of face, after all」
「…Is that so?」
Dimitar put down his cutlery, gulped down the wine and wiped his mouth .
「The loads that those guys were trying to carry out from Luberuteiyu on the small s.h.i.+ps bother me」
「Loads? As in the cargoes?」
「Yeah . Those weren’t provisions」
「What’s that? You don’t actually have a rough idea of what they are, do you?」
「It’s not that I’ve no idea, but—」
When Dimitar continued her words together with a sigh, a light earth tremor attacked the entire room .
「Oh no~, an earthquake?」
「Iya, the tremor just now is different from an earthquake’s . It seems that something made a loud noise far away as well—」
Dimitar was the first to leave his seat and went out to the balcony .
「What happened, Dii? Can you see something?」
「Smoke is rising—」
「What!? Is it a fire?」
「No, I don’t see any flames . I think it’s a cloud of dust」
Everyone, who had stopped eating and gone out to the balcony, gazed in the direction Dimitar was pointing .
Certainly, beyond the rampart where watch fires were built here and there, smoke was rising densely . The horn announcing a state of emergency was blown, and soldiers could be seen running hurriedly .
「…What is it? What happened?」
「I’ll go check immediately」
「Iya, if that’s the case, let’s go with everyone . In the face of a real battle now, a strange disturbance spreading isn’t good . It’s better to ascertain the cause immediately and bring the confusion under control」
「Then, I’ll go first」
When Dimitar rolled up the sleeve of his right hand and exposed its magic crestHieratika, he put his foot onto the balcony’s railing and leapt into the night sky .
「Hey… me too!」
「Diaghilev-geika too, if you would, please . We’ll also follow after」
Following Dimitar, the two Dominas wrapped the night wind around themselves and ran up to the empty sky . Midway, they kicked the roof of the clock tower, jumped once more and ran after Dimitar who had gone ahead .
「What!? What on earth happened!?」
「I don’t know yet」
Dimitar, who had arrived on the rampart first, was looking around his surroundings with his sword drawn . Clotilde caught a soldier who held a torch up high and asked him what had happened .
「I, I don’t know! As soon as I heard a tremendous noise, that tremor occurred—」
「A loud noise…?」
「Dimitar! Your Eminence! Look at that!」
Valeria, who was bending herself forwards from the pa.s.sageway and looking down at the other side of the rampart, pointed at a large stone that was stuck in the ground .
Clotilde narrowed her eyes suspiciously and checked the parapet nearby .
「It’s not a building material that has tumbled down from around there in particular . Even if it fell down from the top of this rampart, a tremor of that extent won’t happen, and it shouldn’t make that sort of thunderous roar too」
「Then, what on earth—?」
「I see… what was loaded and carried out on those s.h.i.+ps, was this, huh—」
「Don’t comprehend things by yourself like that again! Explain it properly!」
When Valeria was poking Dimitar’s chest, Lucius could be seen running up the stairs . There were also the figures of Isaac, Sigibert, Karin and others behind him .
「It’s most likely a trebuchet!」
Karin shouted .
「I was right after all… and it’s also quite a big one」
Sigibert was startled and asked a question in return .
At that moment, a thin sound similar to moving fast against the wind could be heard coming from somewhere .
The next moment, a ear-splitting noise was produced, and the watchtower by the north gate collapsed .
Many soldiers were dragged into its collapse and raised death cries .
Lucius looked back at Isaac and others and,
「Your Highness, Your Excellency! Please return to the headquarters immediately! It’s dangerous here!」
「I never thought they’d throw stones here—」
「Hora, don’t be in a daze and escape, Sigibert-kun!」
「E, escape, you say!?」
「If you’re not pleased with that way of speaking, should I say “go in a different direction” then? This place isn’t a strategically good location, so withdraw to the rear!」
「Karin-jou and Petrjou too, please stay beside His Highness . I’ll leave it to you when something happens!」
「And then, Diaghilev-geika!」
「What is it?」
「Please send out cavalry from the north gate immediately . There are most likely enemy scouts nearby」
「B, but, we don’t know when they’ll throw stones again—」
「It’s a test firing now . The real attack will probably be after they make minute adjustment . …However, they can’t make the adjustment unless they know where the stones they had thrown in the test firing impacted . The scouts who will return to report that they impacted near the castle gate in the test firing just now must be close by without fail . It’s bad to let them escape」
Clotilde jumped off the rampart and ran towards the nearest soldier station .
Valeria grasped Dimitar’s sleeve and asked .
「—Nee, what does it mean? What’s a trebuchet?」
「An offensive weapon that launches that sort of huge stones far away」
Pointing at the stone that was stuck near the rampart, Dimitar explained .
「…Look, it came flying again」
Perhaps he heard the sound of moving fast against the wind similar to just now, Dimitar looked up at the night sky .
This time, an enormous stone impacted as if to shave the edge of the moat in front of the north gate . It was a stone cut in a shape close to a cube, which even if an adult tried to hold it in the arms, his arms wouldn’t go around it at all . Valeria didn’t have the slightest idea how much it’d weigh .
「…Repeating the test firing like that, they’ll try to calculate the exact direction and optimum weight of the stones . Usually, trebuchets can’t move easily once they’re installed; in the first place, they aren’t things that can shoot many rounds consecutively」
「However, the second shot hit the tower by the gate, and the third shot fell into the moat in front of the gate . If those guys’ aim is the destruction of the rampart around the north gate, they’re narrowing down on their aim already」
「I suppose so」
Although a fire didn’t occurred, soldiers who held torches up high were gathering around the north gate whose tower on one side was destroyed, trying to rescue the wounded that were pinned under the stone .
「…If the enemy’s aim was accurate, the subsequent one probably wouldn’t have been launched at the moat, but there」
Valeria involuntarily shuddered at the words of Lucius who had pushed his feelings aside .
The battle had already started, and Valeria was placed in the front line before she knew .10428