Retiring an Old Name
Margherita was troubled.
Ever since Freedom Promenade’s opening event, she hadn’t taken a single reservation from any man who wasn’t Berudeus at Dandy’s Shangri La. She had gotten caught up in the enthusiasm of that event, and so she had dragged him up on stage and ended up taking his lips for herself.
When Ellis opened the original Master’s Hideaway, she gave the girls a method for sucking away ril from their clients without having to worry about getting pregnant, and Margherita always made sure to do her job properly, eventually becoming the ‘true queen’ of the shop. It was from this reputation that her nickname, “Queen Bee” came about.
However at some point, she realized that feelings aside from her sadism were welling up. No, she knew exactly when this had started. It was that day when Warren was attacked by demons. When a demon’s claws had ripped through her, and her regular customer desperately used recovery magic to save her.
Margherita had been fighting against men ever since she became aware of her surroundings. First with her teeth and nails, and then from time to time with her body. But then the victory conditions changed from just escaping men to getting the money for tomorrow’s bread from them.
Each time she took another man, her hatred for them only grew. For her, men were only a way to earn her bread and subjects for her resentment. So when she had been introduced to this stupid masochist, she had thought him a fun little game she could entertain herself with. Until he saved her life that is.
From that day on, she could no longer remain calm as she tormented her masochistic guest. A feeling of pleasure would actually well up inside her whenever she teased him. From that day on, something beyond just pleasure sprouted in the depths of her heart.
That’s were the station as leader of the Thieves’ Guild Entertainment Division came in handy. With the increased responsibilities, she gradually reduced the number of reservations she took. All except the ones Berudeus made.
From the other newer girls’ point of view, it was simply, “Big Sister Margherita is gradually handing all the customers over to us,” and she was loved even more than she was before. Thinking that Berudeus would be the same, Margherita let them know that, “I’m keeping one regular customer to appear the same as everyone else,” to dispel those expectations.
But as a result, Margherita taking only Berudeus as a customer was actually a benefit to everyone else working at Dandy’s Shangri La.
“But now it’s time for it all to come to an end.”
Margherita knew that Berudeus was often seen lately around town, walking with the beautiful and sweet Berunal. She was also positive that those nail marks carved into Berudeus’s back she had seen had come from the Rosen Princess as well.
Today, Berudeus would come visit the store. The atmosphere around the city felt like they were under martial law at the moment, but she was sure he wouldn’t notice.
Margherita took a deep breath and began to consider what Berudeus’s last service would be. A service so satisfying he wouldn’t realize how her heart was trembling, how she wasn’t playing anymore, and how she wouldn’t see him again.
That day, the Ceramics army, Wisdom magic corps, and Wheat Grace peasant militia arrived, setting up an encampment along the lake east of Warren.
Once they were entrenched, they sent their messengers to Warren.
“I am here from the Ceramics Allied Forces. You have one hour to bring your council chairman here.”
The messenger was a knight on horseback, but because the area of the city closest to the eastern lake was Freedom Promenade, he mechanically conveyed his message to the first couple of Warren citizens he came across. His gaze towards these people was ice cold.
The ordered citizens immediately rushed over to the Merchant Guild, not wanting to know what would happen if they were late.
“The Ceramics army wants to see you Miss Maria!”
One of the citizens ran into the heart of the city towards the Merchant Guild without daring to slow down. He burst into the guild’s reception room, spitting out the message while clutching his chest and looking like he was about to keel over.
However a spy from the Thieves’ Guild had already infiltrated the enemy, and he sent word back on the army’s intentions. And so Maria was already ready to head out and act exactly as planned by the time the citizen had arrived. She would go out and meet with this ‘grand army’.
Maria sheathed her rapier at her hip overtop the light armor she had donned and entered the carriage Nicole had prepared for her. At the same time, the carriages and Magical Horses of the other guildmasters followed her lead towards the city’s edge.
“Messenger knight, I am Maria, chairwoman to the Warren Council. What business do you have with us today?”
Maria stared down the Ceramics army’s messenger, trying to feel out their true motives here.
“I come with a verbal message. On the King’s orders, Ceramics’s lord is to set siege to Warren, and thus our army shall make camp here. In accordance with this, Warren is to deliver 18,000 units of food and water every day.”
And the response.
“Of course. We’ll be sure to do just as you ask.”
With Maria obediently accepting such a ridiculous situation, it was the messenger knight who ended up bewildered not knowing what to say. It was a misjudgment on their part.
“Every day, men from our logistics division will arrive here with a wagon. You’ll load the food on that.”
The messenger was a tactlessly frank man. If he carried even a little wit about him, he would have known that it’s common practice to make yourself look weaker and throw off your enemy. Warren was to supply the army with rations in a brilliant move to either force the city into going against the King’s order or to speed up the city’s starvation, and the messenger was sent here to force Warren into that uncomfortable position. However Ceramics sent an honest, no-nonsense messenger because they were afraid that any type of haggling would put them at a disadvantage against a trade city.
If Ceramics were to send a messenger who couldn’t handle the task they were given, they might put the army at a disadvantage or even fall into the enemy’s plan. So they sent a rigid, honest man who wouldn’t offer any concessions. But the truth is that Ceramics’s army is in a favorable position here, and an honest man can’t capitalize on that advantage. The order has been given, but Ceramics knows nothing about Warren’s situation or how big of a burden forcing them to hand out that many supplies really is.
Meanwhile on the other side, Wheat Grace’s Ferdinand and his peasant militia will be the ones handling the logistics at this point and operating the wagon. A tactician who most of Warren knows as the Teaser Eel.
So in exchange for a little food, Warren had managed to purchase a fount of information about the enemy’s army.
“It sounds like there are a few demons mixed in there after all. By Ferdinand’s estimation, the Ceramics Lord is the most suspicion one of them all.”
In preparation for the worst case, Maria and the other guildmasters had their vigilante unit set up a battle formation on Freedom Promenade’s eastern grasslands. In their headquarters at the center of the garrison, the guildmasters were having a meeting about the situation as it had developed so far. Maria started things off by relaying everything she had learned from the secret messengers Ferdinand had sent while his men collected the food.
“Nearly half of Wheat Grace’s peasant militia is actually made up of aristocratic children pretending to be peasants who have a modicum of skill with a blade. According to Ferdinand, everyone has grown a hatred for the Skycastle royal family believing Wheat Grace will be the next city to be targeted after Warren falls. So in the unfortunate event that Ceramics does mount a frontal assault, Wheat Grace’s forces will turncoat and attack from behind. At the same time, Izerina has received word from Wisdom’s Alphonse that his magic corps was reluctant to join in on this farce to begin with, and should a battle break out, they’ll have their golems attack Ceramics’s flank.”
Between Wheat Grace’s 500 men and Wisdom’s strength of 200 soldiers while counting their golems, Warren’s united forces amount to around 1900 troops. Combine that with their superior tactics, and that should be enough to greet the enemy’s 5000.
Soon all that was left to do for the guildmasters was to wait and hear from Ellis and the Jewelry Box girls who were preparing the next step of their plan. And so Maria, Baltis, Theseus, Flint, and Izerina fell into a little idle chat to kill the time.
“By the way Theseus, Flint, Baltis, what’s with those ridiculous weapons and armor you’re all wearing?”
Izerina had to poke a little fun at the men.
“Oh, these are some of the equipment we managed to scrounge up after the demons attacked Warren.”
“They’re amazing, and we got enough for all three of us!”
Flint was wearing some Resistance plate armor along with a Flying Phoenix ・ Exorcism great ax.
Theseus also had on a set of Resistance plate armor and was carrying a Flying Phoenix ・ Exorcism long sword.
Baltis had the same set of Resistance plate armor, but he was lucky enough to find two daggers that came equipped with the Flying Phoenix ・ Exorcism effects.
Flint and Theseus were all too eager to start showing off the wondrous and legendary equipment they had obtained, but Baltis was hanging back and acting rather shifty-eyed. Meanwhile Maria was being as thickheaded as ever.
Izerina guessed that Baltis must be the only person here other than her who was aware of Ellis’s ability. At the same time, she was feeling relieved. With this equipment and this lineup, and then including her magic and Maria’s healing ability, they’d be the same unstoppable unit they were back when they hunted labyrinths together. For a moment, she started yearning for her youth. They most definitely could’ve conquered the Demon Labyrinth like this.
The infamous Warren’s Powder Keg, a notorious adventurer party known all over until ten years ago when the party dissolved so each member could take over the city’s different guilds.
“Well then, how about we go greet everyone?”
“Let’s save some of that energy until it’s time Izerina.”
“No, I think it’d be good if we head out now as well.”
“Yes yes, friendly threats are free of charge.”
“I, really want to go wild.”
Izerina, Maria, Theseus, Baltis, and Flint each spoke as if they were remembering the good old times. They then left their tent and headed towards the front line. It was already time to break down this stalemate after it had only just begun.