I Favor the Villainess 221

Provocation

“Excuse me! The demon army appeared on the highway!”
“They’ve come… Thanks.”

General Zasha, the commander of the third and now the fifth fort, nodded heavily to the messenger’s report.
On his burly body like a large rock, he was wearing armor that was a magical tool.
He was a handsome uncle with a rich beard.

“Then, Claire-san, Rei-san. May I leave it to you?”
“Yes, please do.”
“We’ll try to lead them here somehow.”

The demon army was now located just before the detour that had been mentioned at the countermeasures meeting.
If they take the northern course, things will become difficult for humanity.
We needed to get them to take the route to the fifth fortress no matter what it took.

“General, please start withdrawing troops from the fort as soon as movement of demons is observed.”
“Hum. I’ll do that.”

The Inferno was a magical weapon to destroy the demon army together with the fortress.
If anybody were at the fortress, they’d get mixed up in it.
It seems that the Inferno could be activated remotely, so it wasn’t necessary for soldiers to remain in the fortress.
If we succeeded in leading the demon army here, General Zasha would immediately withdraw from here.

“Then Rei, shall we go?”
“Yes.”

Claire-sama and I were already prepared and waiting, so all we had to do was join up with the soldiers on-site.
Because we were some distance from there, we’d be sent there by an imperial magician who can use the wind teleportation magic.
Manaria-sama used that magic during the fight with me, but there aren’t many people who can use it.
It was clear how serious the empire was since they send such a valuable human resource here.

“Good luck.”
“You too, general.”
“We’re going.”

◆◇◆◇◆

When we arrived there, the imperial army and the demon army were already facing each other.
Although no direct clashes had occurred yet, the situation felt explosive and it wouldn’t be strange if an actual battle broke out at any time.

“Claire-san, we’ve been waiting for you. My name is Dennis and I’m in charge of the frontline command.”
“I’m Claire. This is my partner, Rei. How does the situation look?”
“A few hours ago the demon army appeared. Currently they took positions before the highway crossroads and we’re facing off.”
“What’s the enemy’s strength?”
“Just from here we can see tens of thousands. We only have about three thousand troops at the frontline, so we should be able to hold up for a few hours under normal circumstances.”

The role of this until was to lead the demon army, so they weren’t supposed to all-out engage the demon army.

“Who’s the enemy commander?”
“You can see one of Three Great Archdukes, Arist. He appears to be commanding the frontline.”
“How convenient. Arist knows who I am.”
“Please be careful not to get sniped, Claire-sama.”
“Yes, please protect me, Rei.”

We held hands tightly.

“I’ll leave five hundred soldiers to the both of you. We assembled people who can operate by themselves, so no command is necessary. You can act freely.”
“Thank you.”
“Can you ride a horse?”
“Yes, it’s fine.”

There were horse riding classes both in Bauer and the empire, so not only Claire-sama who had been familiar with horses since her childhood, but also I could ride a horse too.
However, there was a world of difference between our skills.

“Then, I wish you good luck.”

Seen off by Dennis-san, Claire-sama and I left the encampment.

“Claire-sama, are you nervous?”
“Yes, naturally. I have some experience with one-on-one battles, but this is my first time fighting among military forces.”
“Our role is to appear and provoke demons, and only then we can move to the withdrawal route. Let’s focus on what we need to do.”
“You have a point.”

While I was having such a conversation on the horseback, the demons started to become clearly visible.
Small monsters were placed on the frontline.
They were goblins.
Behind them were slightly taller orcs with boar-like faces, and further behind I could see big monsters, ogres.
The demon army seemed to be made up from demi-human races.

Although those demons were called demi-humans for convenience, they were creatures clearly different from humans in reality.
Like water slimes they are monsters with magical stones cores and they disappear if that’s broken.
Well, there might be some smart individuals like our Relaire, but it was wartime now, so there was no way we could tame them individually.

“Now then… It seems they’ve at least become aware of us, but their reaction is lacking.”
“So it would seem.”

The demons seemed vigilant of a brigade-sided frontline battalion advancing.
They were vigilant, but that was all.
There were no hints of them trying to attack us.

“What should we, Claire-sama?”
“It’s simple. Let’s inform them that I am here.”

Saying that, Claire-sama stepped forward a little.

“I am Claire François! The former Bauer noblewoman who is now in charge of this unit! Anybody who thinks they can take me on, please try!”

She introduced herself in a clear voice from the horseback.
The demons reacted dramatically.
Raising a roar like the Hate Cry, the demons suddenly seethed with anger and attacked without chaotically.

“Claire-sama, get down!”
“No, I can’t! Rei, spread pitfalls ahead!”

At Claire-sama’s instruction I immediately spread the earth attribute magic Pitfall ahead of us.
The monsters in front were pushed by their fellows from behind and fell into the holes one after another.

“Flames!”

Claire-sama created innumerable fire arrows at the same time and rained them into the pitfall.
Demons’ death throes resounded.

“Incredible…”
“So that’s the power of the revolutionary maiden…”

Voices of admiration rose from allies.
In the eyes of imperial soldiers who had to be good at magic, Claire-sama’s power looked particularly impressive.

“The second wave is coming!”

The demons made full use of their numbers and went forward while stepping over the corpses of their fellows.
Thanks to our provocation, the demon seemed to be completely frenzied.

“Claire-sama, it’s enough, right? Let’s begin withdrawing.”
“Yes! But… It’s strange.”

Claire-sama looked puzzled as she pulled on the reins to change the direction.

“What is?”
“I can’t see Arist. I was sure he’d come if we provoked him.”

Certainly.
We heard that Arist was leading this unit, but there was no sign of him.
Of course, the leader doesn’t usually appear on the frontline, but that demon was a person who would enter the empire on his own.
It was a little strange he didn’t respond to Claire-sama’s introduction.

“There’s no use thinking about it now.”
“You have a point there.”
“We’re talking about him, so it’s not out of question that he’ll aim at you during retreat, Claire-sama. Please stay vigilant.”
“Fufu, you don’t need to tell me that.

Claire-sama laughed boldly while riding the horse.
Yup, cool.

“Claire-sama.”
“What is it?”
“I fell in love with you again.”
“Bah…! W-What are you saying at such a time!? We’re in the middle of a battle!”
“Sure, but I felt like I had to say it!”
“… Jeez.”

Claire-sama sulkily turned her face away.
Jeez, she sure is cute.

“Rei, you too.”
“Eh?”

Claire-sama whispered something, but I couldn’t catch it.

“What is it, Claire-sama?”
“It’s nothing! Look, we’re about to join the frontline troops soon!”
“Yeees.”


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