A few days later.
Claire’s parents, the Wisdom Magician’s Guild second-in-command Ares and the Warren Magician’s Guild guildmaster Izerina, burst into the Warren Council Chairperson Maria’s office completely out of breath.
“We need to move Maria! Gather the other council members right away!”
“Ares, Izerina, has something happened?”
“We received word right after we woke up! Warren’s facing a crisis!”
After hearing Ares’s report, Maria’s face turned a sickly blue, and she rushed out of the Merchant Guild to personally collect the other council members.
The door to Ellis’s mansion received a violent round of knocking.
“Yes, who is it?”
Having gotten up earlier than the others to prepare breakfast, Frau answered the door, greeting a messenger from the Merchant Guild who was breathing wildly. The messenger choked out a scream inbetween his short breaths.
“Associate member Ellis is required for an emergency meeting of the Warren Council! Please come immediately!”
“What’s with all the racket?”
Ellis came out of her room and walked down the stairs to the front entrance. Mebett was following right behind her, rubbing her eyes as if she had only just woke up.
The messengers cheeks got hot seeing two lolis walking out in negligee, but he desperately repeated his message to fulfill his duty.
“Miss Ellis, your presence is required immediately for an emergency meeting of the Warren Council!”
“Hmph, what’s it about?”
The messenger continued, doing his best to not mind Ellis’s clear irritation.
“The lord of Ceramics has dispatched troops on Warren!”
The plates Frau was carrying shattered on the ground as the messenger’s words sent a shock through her system. That noise served as a signal, and the other members of the Jewelry Box stirred.
“What’s their goal here?” Reeve asked the most natural question.
“To get to here from Ceramics, they’d have to travel to Wisdom first, and then head to either Marsfield or Wheat Grace,” Frau confirmed the route in advance.
“But, isn’t an army moving a really big deal!? What should we do!?” Claire was the one who was panicking the most.
“Thanks for all your hard work nya,” and Katie was acting like usual.
“At any rate, I’ll tell you more after I’m back.”
Ellis wasted no time slipping on her favorite dress and secured Ra-chin on her back. As Ellis rode her Magical Horse towards the city’s center, the other girls watched her go from the entrance, an uneasy expression on their faces.
The councilroom fell completely silent after hearing Ares’s report. The content was beyond anything any of the council members could have imagined.
The lord of Ceramics was leading the army himself. When the army arrived in Wisdom, Ceramics’s lord didn’t say a single word to Wisdom’s representative, the Magician’s Guild guildmaster Alphonse, only passing along a letter from the King.
The letter read, “The Lord of Ceramics shall mobilize his army and lay siege to Warren. Said army is to travel through Wisdom and then Wheat Grace. Wisdom is to provide a battalion of mages as Wheat Grace supplies additional troops from its peasant militia.”
The King’s seal clearly adorned the letter along with his signature.
Wisdom is under the direct control of Skycastle and therefore cannot go against the King’s order. Nevertheless Alphonse insisted that the Ceramics lord reveal to him the King’s true intentions. The lord had merely made a disgusting smile, and with the eyes of a dead fish, “It’s a royal order,” only repeated what the letter had made clear.
In the end, Alphonse agreed to cooperate at least in appearance, leaving Ares as his second-in-command behind to run Wisdom while he headed up the 100-man magic corps himself. But on the day of departure, as the army departed for Wheat Grace, Alphonse made sure to order Ares to let Warren know about what was coming.
Baltis was the first to break the silence that had settled in the council room, speaking slowly and clearly as his mind continued racing.
“So is their goal the Hero, or are they trying to pin down Warren’s Jewelry Box?”
It was the implicit understanding of all Warren’s citizens at this point that the Hero was using Warren as his main base. But, nobody was certain if that fact had been leaked to Skycastle or not. If the King was aware this was going on, then there was a good chance that this was the King’s response to the Hero going against his royal decree and smashing any sabbaths being held.
On the other hand, the existence of the Dragon Maidens is also a sore spot that would be difficult for Skycastle to overlook. The power of just a single maiden and her dragon is ridiculous, and Warren has managed to gather five of them. Naturally they would be seen as a threat. But, it’s precisely because of those facts that Theseus was able to have his doubts about this move.
“But no matter how many men they recruit into their army, they aren’t going to be able to stand a chance against the Hero and five Dragon Maidens. Are they going to sacrifice as many men as they can just to destroy the city?”
This was true. Defeating the Hero would require a Demon Lord class monster, and the members of the Warren Council knew just how ridiculous their city’s Guardian Dragons were.
Flint had another idea.
“In that case, perhaps they’re trying to bring Warren under direct control of Skycastle.”
So far, Warren had been operating as an independent, self-governing city. However recently it had been undergoing rapid growth, becoming richer both in resources and its infrastructure. Leaving nobility aside, there is no other city, including Skycastle, where so many members of the general public have access to toilets and showers. So perhaps Skycastle’s aim was to deprive Warren of its autonomy and turn it into a royal district in order to suck up Warren’s wealth and funnel it back to Skycastle.
“Then, it’s all over……..”
It was unclear who was the one who said it, but their words echoed in this quiet room.
Ellis was just an associate member and thus had no right to speak on her own. So she sat back silently as all the guildmasters tried rallying the other members of the council. However, nobody could find a good solution to this situation.
Running out of patience and starting to fall asleep, Ellis quietly raised her hand.
When Maria noticed, she glanced around the meeting hall at the other members. She took their silence as consent and called on Ellis to speak.
“As a special exception, we call on the associate member Ellis to hear her remarks.”
“Pardon. I wanted to ask Uncle Ares, how many men does the Ceramics army have?”
“A thousand cavalry, three thousand infantry, and a thousand men for logistics.”
“And now they have a battalion of magicians from Wisdom.”
“That’s right. The battalion will have a hundred magicians, but since each of them will have a Minotaur Golem with them, you can count that as two hundred fighters.”
“How many men do you think they will get after conscripting the members from Wheat Grace’s peasant militia?”
“I don’t think Ceramics’s lord is expecting to get much military strength from Wheat Grace. Their goal instead is most likely testing the loyalty of Leopold, the new lord there.”
Ellis then turned to the Adventurer’s Guild guildmaster Theseus.
“How big is Warren’s vigilante unit?”
“We have a standing unit of a hundred men. If we add in our own militia, we could scrape together about a thousand soldiers.”
Finally, Ellis turned back towards Maria. And then, she gave voice to the terrible thought so many people in that room had been considering.
“Then if everyone agrees, should we go out and annihilate Ceramics’s army?”
Her words cut through the hanging silence, and everyone started talking at once. One member of the council rose up.
“If you do that, then Warren really will be destroyed!”
But another member shook their head.
“No, with the Dragon Maidens and the Hero, couldn’t Warren easily conquer this whole continent?”
As reality set in, more and more people were starting to grow on the idea.
Maria brought down her wooden gavel, silencing the hall once again. Maria turned an annoyed eye back towards Ellis, but the little girl took it all in stride.
“Warren is a town that has completely centered itself on trade and tourism. If we turn a blade against the royal family and the other major cities, then nearly every one of our industries would fail in time. Going to war here would be suicide!”
Maria’s voice exploded throughout the chamber. Her words echoed off the walls and rang in the other council members’ ears. It wasn’t until things had settled back down that Ellis took the floor again.
“In that case, our only move is to wait. Though just in case, while we’re waiting for their army to arrive at our front door, we should probably start evacuation procedures for the citizens back to Hope Coast.”
Ellis walked down the center of the meeting hall towards Maria. Nobody even tried to stop her. When Ellis drew close, she whispered something into Maria’s ear. After Ellis had said what she needed to, Maria nodded once while making an expression that said she understood.
Maria then turned her attention back towards the rest of the council.
“Let’s adopt Ellis’s proposal. We are the Trade City Warren, we will calmly wait for this army with pride.”
Seeing Maria’s confident expression, the other members of the council were able to take a sigh of relief, and the venue exploded in a round of applause.
Thus the emergency meeting was able to successfully come to an end.
But then a ridiculous report came through for Maria from Sir Chaffee in Skycastle.
Two reports to be exact.
The first was the royal decree that all beastmen would henceforth be stripped of all civil rights, making them nothing more than animals in the eyes of the law.
The second was that Duke Marsfield had been relieved of his position as ruler of the Citadel City, and he was now imprisoned inside the royal palace.
Hearing this news, even Ellis was left not knowing what to think.