Oukoku e Tsuzuku Michi: Chapter 285

Translator: Nat

-Aegir POV-

The pirate s.h.i.+p - apparently named Surov - is zooming along the water at an astounding speed with its sail pulled taut.
As the scenery whizzes before my eyes, I think to myself this could not be considered a peaceful voyage.

「Where is this place?」
「The great mountain range is close by on the left and you can see the forest area on the right, so I would think this is near the border…… muu.」

I hug the head of Celia who is beside me. It's fine if you don't think so seriously.
In any case, I can't do anything until I get there.

When I ma.s.sage Celia's head and cheeks to turn Celia into a soft mess, another voice speaks up from behind me.

「We just crossed the border. We'll probably start seeing the remote villages on the right after going a little further.」

Arbakin similarly watches the moving scenery and comments.
After one final pull on Celia's cheeks, I bow.
Kenneth repeatedly, yet politely, told me not to be rude to him.

Arbakin waves his hand and smiles.

「Please don't fuss about that. It would be different in an official setting, but the only n.o.bles here are me and you. This whole voyage would be too stiff if you worry about that all the time.」

If I don't give at least some attention to this, you'll see something far more terrible than what you imagine.
Nonna told me to absolutely refrain from acting like I usually do even if I'm told formal behavior is not necessary.

「Still, this is a surprise. For you to take a mere two people with you…… I thought for sure you would bring at least ten.」

「It's not like we're going on a vacation.」

「Also for your escort to be such a beautiful girl―― no, I guess that's very like you.」

Arbakin smiles after looking at Celia.
Sensing that she's getting made fun of, Celia puffs her cheeks.

Initially, I actually planned for Mack or Gido to be my escort.
If that happened, the only girl by my side would be Marta.
The trip to the Federation would be by boat, making it difficult to secure girls along the way.

"Taking on Aegir-sama alone…… and for several weeks, you'll die. At best, you'll go insane from the pleasure and become crippled."

Which was what the consensus opinion of the girls were, so at their and Celia's pa.s.sionate plea, I picked her to be my escort.

「Aegir-sama! You're thinking out loud!」

Arbakin bursts into laughter again. I remember that appearance.
Isn't he the same amba.s.sador who was at the Treian trial?

「It's not unusual for the aide to be a lover, but I'd expect nothing less of you to bolster your roster with a female escort. We may be in a hurry, but we can also stop at a port to replenish food supplies. During that time, you may also attend a brothel――」

The peaceful conversation was suddenly interrupted.

「There's a vessel in front approaching us from the starboard side!」

The crew member standing on the watchtower shouts loudly.
More of the s.h.i.+p's crew jump onto the deck, while we, oblivious of the circ.u.mstances, stay in the corner to watch the development of events.

「……this isn't good.」

Is that the s.h.i.+p's captain? A bearded man proceeds to the front and grumbles.

「What happened? Don't tell me an Empire's s.h.i.+p is all the way out here.」

Arbakin's expression returns to a serious one.

「Two mid-sized s.h.i.+ps up ahead, they're not battles.h.i.+ps but they're clearly trying to block our way.」
「Ring the bell and get them to clear out!」

The captain shakes his head.

「We are cruising with the Federation's official flag on the mast of our s.h.i.+p. No reasonable person would move their s.h.i.+p in front of us.」

The crew members s.h.i.+ver in fear.

「――could they be pirates!?」

Pirates, eh? What a nostalgic feeling. I should draw my sword too.
I'm sure Marta can't fight, so she should stay in the very back of the boat.

「Please be careful. I will take care of your pent up stress after the battle.」

She bows her head courteously and runs inside the s.h.i.+p's cabin.

「Smaller boats are being lowered from the unidentified s.h.i.+p! It looks like the people in the boats are armed, it's a pirate s.h.i.+p!」

The lookout yells, while Arbakin grits his teeth.

「Kuh…… not bringing an escort s.h.i.+p for the sake of time turned out to be a mistake. Who thought pirates would appear in the east!」
「With all the river fleet being rounded up for the fight with the Empire, there may have been an inadequate amount of patrolling.」

The captain also makes a sour expression.
If they get here, we just have to fight. I unsheathe my longsword and rest it on my shoulder.

「We don't have many crew on board, there's no way of winning if they get on the s.h.i.+p. For the sake of time, we don't have any cannons on the s.h.i.+p either…… so we should avoid battle, and try to slip past them through a gap at full speed!」

Oh, so we're not going to fight? I threw away the scabbard when trying to look cool pulling out my sword.
If I hunch over now to try and find it, I would look lame.

「Let's look together…… kyaa!!」

When Celia crouches with me, a sudden impact causes the two of us to fall over.
The s.h.i.+p has was ceased moving briefly.
Celia fell on top of me, so I take the chance to rub her a.s.s.

「What happened!!?」
「It's a net! The pirate s.h.i.+p threw a net on the water's surface!」

It looks like we literally got caught in the net cast by the enemy.
The speed of our boat instantly drops, then the pirate s.h.i.+p and smaller boats fully turn towards us.
Eventually, the Surov comes to a complete stop.

「There's no choice…… crew members, get ready for battle!」

Oh, so we're fighting after all. Just when Celia brought me the sheathe too.

「Hardlett-sama, please go inside the cabin with Arbakin-sama. The battle will start soon――」

As the s.h.i.+p's captain begins to give instructions, he sees the sword on my shoulder and pauses.

「I was thinking of fighting, is that bad?」
「――No, we can use all the help we can get. There would be no point staying in the bilge if we are defeated after all.」

It's been a while since I've fought for real on a s.h.i.+p.

The crew put on their armor and equip themselves with bows and swords.
Only a mere ten crew can fight compared to at least thirty on the small boats deployed by the pirates.

「Now that we can't move the boat forward, we can only try to stave off the enemy and make them give up.」

It's better not to have hope that the enemy will pull back.
I guess the intention behind that loud voice was to encourage the uneasy crew.

「In other words, we just have to ma.s.sacre the enemies. Isn't that right?」

A smile appears on the dark sun-tanned face of the captain.

「That's exactly right, Hardlett-sama.」

As the pirates' small s.h.i.+ps get closer, the crew shoots their arrows.
They've got some good ones, to be expected of a Federation s.h.i.+p.
Return fire from the pirates don't reach us and fall harmlessly into the water.

「There's a lot of them!」
「Aim better!」

The pirates approach with s.h.i.+elds held above their heads so ten bows aren't enough to stop them.
Arrows fly towards us again once they get closer.
These will come from above us.

「Let me borrow that.」

I take the sword from the hip of the crew member beside me, stab my longsword into the ground, then charge toward the arrows, dual-wielding the borrowed blade and my Dual Crater.
Light swords are better for sweeping arrows away.

I swing one of the swords horizontally over my head to swipe away an arrow falling down from above, then proceed to deflect the two low angled arrows with each of my swords.

In a flash, three more arrows follow behind the ones I just struck down.
Alternating between the sword in my right hand and left hand, I slash through each one of the arrows.

「Their shooting is scattered so it's easier to brush them away. Oops, Celia stay back. I don't want your pretty skin to get scratched.」

With Celia behind me, I feel more strength welling up inside me.
My body feels light and I can see the arrows clearly like they were moving in slow-motion.

Maybe it's the 'Celia effect' but I didn't get hit by a single arrow after that, I knocked down all of them.
The broken pieces of the arrows fall into the water with soft splashes.

「I-I can't see his slashes……」
「What the heck is that…… he just deflected twenty arrows!」
「He's not just some c.o.c.ky n.o.ble!?」

Only stopping their arrows won't be enough to defeat the enemies.
Seeing as we're not moving, the pirates slowly align their small boats alongside the Surov and begin to climb up into our s.h.i.+p.
Hooks with rope attached to them get thrown one after the other onto the broadside and mast of the s.h.i.+p.

「Listen up men! This is a public vessel of the Federation, there's gotta be treasure or important n.o.bles on board! Don't set anything on fire until I give the order. We can't take any loot or hostages if the boat is up in flames!」

That's good to hear. If the s.h.i.+p burns down, I'd have to swim in the middle of the winter.

「They're coming in! All crew members, take defensive measures! Knock them off!」

As the s.h.i.+p captain howls, the crew draw their swords and either cuts the enemy's ropes or stabs the hands grabbing the broadside of the s.h.i.+p to drop the pirates back into the river.

Naturally, the pirates don't stay silent.
They shoot arrows or swing their swords in one hand while holding onto the rope with the other.
The pirates are wielding what looks like scimitars, slightly shorter weapons with a curved blade.

「We'll be at a disadvantage if they climb up! Cut the ropes!」

The captain swings his one-handed axe to sever many ropes and knocks off another pirate who tries to climb aboard by throwing his hatchet.
Despite the crew's courageous efforts, there are unfortunately too many of them.

「It's no good! We can't defend against all of them!!」

One of the crew shouts.
They don't have enough people. Guess I'll help out.

I grab my longsword and stand in front of the end of one of the many ropes, waiting for an enemy to climb up.
But…… n.o.body comes.

「…… you climb so slow. Hurry and get up here!」
「Ueh!?」

Getting impatient, I grab the grappling hook and pull up, as if I was fis.h.i.+ng for pirates.

「Hmph.」
「Bujuu……」

As the pirate flies up, my fist meets his face in midair.
My armguard-equipped fist sinks deep into his face, blood squirting out from the man's ear and nose as he was sent into the river with double the momentum he was thrown into the air with.

「You guys are also too slow.」

I pull up the three ropes right next to me.

「「「Dowah!」」」

Three additional pirates roll onto the deck. I fished up a big haul.

「H-Hardlett-sama! You must not let the enemy come on the s.h.i.+p!」
「D-don't tell me, are you cooperating with them?」

Don't say such unsettling things. If you only cut the rope, they'll just climb up again using a different one.
If you cut their heads off, they'll never climb back up.

I swing my longsword at one of the pirates trying to get up, separating his body into two from the waist.
――or so I wanted to, barely failing to completely split him apart.

「Gieeh――!!!」
「A full-powered swing would probably destroy the s.h.i.+p's deck. Fighting on a boat is truly difficult.」

Aah, that's why they're using those curved short swords.

I toss the annoying half-cut man overboard and crouch to avoid the second man's slash by a hair's breadth.

「How fast for your size!」
「Who are you calling premature ejaculator!」

With a light whack, my longsword runs across the small man and cuts off both his hands.
Before he could annoy me with his screaming, I kick him off the boat.
He shouldn't be able to climb back up with no hands.

「S-so strong…… gugya!」

The third pirate backs off after seeing what I can do, but doesn't realize Celia approaching from behind and dies after getting his throat slit.

Now then, I wonder what's going on elsewhere. Fumu, quite a few have climbed on board.
Allies and enemies are facing off against each other with their swords.

「Captain! We can't defend any longer!」
「We aren't yielding to these unruly pirates! Fight till your last breath!」

「Do whatever you can to find a n.o.ble! It's our victory if we can capture the most important person here!」

While our allies have their hands full, a few pirates try sneaking into the bottom of the boat.
Not good, Arbakin and Marta are down there.
It'll be problematic if they are taken hostage.

「Why am I, the guest of honor, in front and the one who has to go save the amba.s.sador in the first place?」
「Aegir-sama looks too much like a warrior!」

I postpone ruffling Celia's hair and run, but we don't make it in time.

One of the enemies who should have rushed into the bottom of the boat ran out screaming.

「Guwaaaaah!」

There's an arrow stuck in one of his shoulders, still his screaming is not normal.

「It hurts, it hurts, it hurts―― I'm going to die――!! Gyaaaaaaah!!」

Following him out from inside the boar are two figures.
That's Natia and…… oh, it's Pipi.
Messerschmitt is resting on Pipi's head. Even in such a situation, that thing is closing its eyes and sleeping.

「What an obvious scoundrel! I hope you suffer!」
「Pipi will help too.」

The arrow shot by Natia pierces into the thigh of another pirate.
It looked like she was intentionally avoiding any vitals, yet the man still rolls around in pain. ……she must have coated the tip with something.

「You won't die. It's a drug that only causes pain.」

Meanwhile, Pipi mercilessly shoots through the eyeball or throat of the pirates.
This one's fully intent on killing.

「……so, what are you two doing here?」
「Who asked you to follow us!?」

「Natia said she was going to chase after you. That's why Pipi also came.」

「Wai-!? Are you saying this is my fault!?」

「Pipi belongs to the chief. I can't lie to him.」

Natia has the freedom to move on her own as well as a heart br.i.m.m.i.n.g with curiosity. She must have chased after me when she heard I was heading to the Federation.

「Let's save this discussion for later. Right now we have to drive these guys away.」

「Umu!」「Aye!」

At that moment, Messerschmitt barks.
I crouch down on reflex, causing the sword of the pirate behind me to swing at air.
My body moves before I can think, taking the man's hand, throwing him to the ground and then stepping on his head.

「……I avoided because of my own instinct. Get it?」
「Hiiih! W-what are you talking about?」

「That worthless dog didn't just save me. Get it?」
「I- I get it! I understand, please spare me……」

「Good!」

I crush the pirate's head under my foot, then turn to Natia and Pipi.

「Those wearing decent clothes are our allies. The ones wearing tattered clothes and have rampantly growing beards are the enemy. Take out as many as you can!」

With Natia and Pipi partic.i.p.ating, the battle tilts in our favor.
The arrows released seconds apart don't miss their targets.
No group of pirates wearing light armor and wielding scimitars could escape.

「Now that it's come to this, I'll just set everything on fire!」
「The s.h.i.+p is packed with fodder. That should burn quite nicely――」

Fighting a harder battle than expected, a pirate loses patience and approaches a pile of fodder on the deck with a torch in hand.
If we end up having to swim in the freezing weather, it'll all be Schwartz's fault.

Fortunately, that didn't happen.

「What are you trying to do?」

A small pale-skinned hand comes out from the pile of fodder, grabs the pirate's hand―――― and twists it.

「Eh? What the-?」
「You're an eyesore. Filth.」

The hand pokes at the man.
However the corresponding sound was not a light one at all.
The sound I heard was clearly that of internal organs and bones being broken as the pirate collapses after spraying a fountain of blood from his mouth.

「Good grief―― mgh…… it's still daytime. Why do I have to stay inside this gra.s.s in the first place…… grumble, grumble.」

The delicate frame of a white skinned female with gorgeous blonde hair appears while complaining in a soft voice.
The color of her red eyes, which I caught a glimpse of, changes immediately.
Oh, if it isn't my beloved vampire…… Brynhildr.

「May I ask why you're here?」
「When I heard you'll be going far away, I was worr……」

Brynhildr begins to explain, then adorably clears her throat.

「I just felt like it. There's no other reason.」
「You hid in the fodder for no reason?」

Brynhildr visibly turns redder.

「Shut up! I don't care anymore! I'm not saying anything else!」

She probably understands fully that there is no excuse she could give. She turns away and sulks.

「What nonsense are you spouting? You've done it now!」

Another pirate jumps in and attacks her.

Before I could even scream "watch out", the man's sword reaches Brynhildr…… only to snap in half.

「Eh!?」

He lets out a dumbfounded voice.
I don't blame him, as a female who seemingly looks like a child in her teens grabbed the sword with her bare hands and broke it.

The pirate is stunned while Brynhildr's expression is colder than ice.

「Sc.u.m. How dare you interrupt my conversation with him.」

Brynhildr grabs the pirate's arm.
The man struggles desperately to pull away, but couldn't budge from the tight grip.
Those who are unaware of the situation may look at this scene and think the man is acting poorly.

「Disappear.」

Brynhildr tosses the man away like he was a piece of garbage.

「Dowah!」

A gust of wind whips by me.
With the force like he was shot out of a cannon, the man skips on the surface of the water three times and disappears into the distance while breaking apart.

「That almost hit me.」
「S-sorry. Are you hurt? I just got so irritated, I wasn't thinking……」

Brynhildr's slanted eyes relaxes.

「I'll listen to what you have to say later, first we have to get the enemies…… hey, wait.」

She calmly strolls across the deck while skirmishes are still going on, then heads inside the cabin.
You're not going to help out?

「We'll talk at night. Expecting me to stay in the sun, who do you think I am?」

Oh right, you're a vampire.

「It's even worse since we're on the river. Flowing water is a vampire's natural enemy and I may die if I fall inside.」
「That's the first time I've heard that. Sorry then, go hide inside.」

Brynhildr withdraws to the cabin and I think to myself, "wow she got on the boat for me despite the risk to her life".
Now there's even more reason I can't let this boat sink.

First, I need to get rid of the enemies in front of us. I'll overcome them quickly.

I charge toward the stern of the boat where enemy and ally are fighting fiercely.

「Move.」
「Eh?」

I make my way past allies and rush out in front of the enemies where I swing my sword horizontally with one large sweeping motion.
Although they try to guard against my attack, their swords aren't suited to defending and so are unable to stop my dragon longsword.

「Guwaaah!!」
「Wh-what is…… gubh……」

The four pirates within range of my longsword get cut in half through the chest and all of them collapse on the spot.
I take out the Dual Crater with my left hand and slash diagonally at one more enemy who I missed with my first attack.

「H-huh? My body is sliding?」

The extremely sharp blade of the Dual Crater slices the man in two without him even knowing what was happening.
My sword enters from his right shoulder and exits from the left side of his stomach.

「Incredible…… he's a one man army. Everyone is getting ma.s.sacred……」
「There are still some alive.」

I re-grip the longsword with both hands, holding a stance with the weapon ready to shoot out from my waist, then I inhale deeply.

The pirates climbing aboard the s.h.i.+p have no clue about the changing battle state on the deck.
When I see the end of a rope move and five more pirates pop their heads up――

「Hmph!!」

I swing my sword sideways and spin around 360 degrees with the blade still held out.
Time seems to stop briefly for ally and enemy alike.

Then all of a sudden, the pirates' heads are sent flying off.
Each of their heads were instantly destroyed, meaning no screams or deathroes were let out, and the decapitated bodies just fell lifelessly back into the water.
The screams actually came from the small boats below us.

「Hiiiiiiih――!! Bodies-, bodies are falling!!」
「Everyone is dead!? What on earth is going on!?」

It sounds like there are more in the boats.

I grab the collar of a pirate who lost his leg and pull him over the side of the s.h.i.+p so his head sticks out.

「Woah.」

I grab the arrow which flies at me out of nowhere with my left hand, then raise my right hand with the pirate in my hand.

「I-I'm sorry. My leg got cut off! Forgive me, please――!!」
「Don't worry. I'll return you back to your s.h.i.+p.」

After a sly grin, I throw the man with all my might back down into the boat under his eyes.

「Gyaaaah!」

Even though the pirates are lightly equipped, each of them probably still weigh a good 70 kilograms altogether.
That pirate's body crashes into the boat.
The man who fell head first died instantly, while the boat submerges into the water once from the impact before breaking in half right in the middle and sinking down below the water's surface.
The other pirates flail about in the icy water.

「How many are left, three or four?」

As I was about to peer over the side of the boat to count, the remaining small vessel hastily distances itself from the Surov.

「Oh, they're running away. I guess now is a good time to take that net off our s.h.i.+p?」

I don't know much about what to do on a boat. I'll leave the rest to the captain.

「……ah! Y-you're right! Turn the rudder left and right to see if you can remove the net!」
「It's tangled too tightly and won't come loose! It looks like running into it at high speeds made it worse……」

「Fumu.」

I peek down at the water from the deck and as if answering my nonexistent call, a head emerges from the river.
It was Mirumi, who has a puzzled look on her face.
On closer examination, I see countless of her children swimming around under the water too.
They seem to fighting over something that looks similar to the pirate I threw overboard earlier, but I'm sure that's just my imagination.

「What's wrong? I've been hearing a lot of rattling sounds for a while now.」
「A net is tangled in our boat. Can you do anything to help?」

Mirumi smoothly dives in the water and heads for the bow of the s.h.i.+p.

「Uwah, it's really tangled. It'll be quicker if I had something to cut it with.」
「Alright, wait here. Careful you don't cut yourself.」

I gather the swords of the fallen pirates and dump them into the river.
Each sword gets taken by two children and they swim off excitedly.

「Is there anything else I can help with?」
「Well, now that you mention it――」

「Hardlett-sama? Who are you talking to!?」

The captain calls out from behind me. Mirumi hurries back into the water.
Well, everything should be fine since the important information was communicated.

「The pirates' mothers.h.i.+p is heading our way. Since we can't untangle the net, we have no choice but to repel them here.」

Now that I look, the smaller boats have been pulled back up and the two mothers.h.i.+ps are approaching us.
The decks of their s.h.i.+ps are filled with fully armed pirates.
Despair is was.h.i.+ng over the faces of the crew members.

「How do you plan on fighting that?」
「……we'll have to do the same thing we did earlier and defeat the enemies who climb aboard. It will certainly be disadvantageous but there is no other option since the boat can't move.」

I shake my head.

「That's going to be impossible. They have several times more men even at a rough estimate, plus several of our already small number of crew suffered injuries. We can't fight like that.」

The captain makes a slightly huffy face.

「Then do you expect us to surrender?」
「Of course not, I'm saying that we'll lose if they get on our s.h.i.+p. We're going to jump on theirs. Get Schwartz on the deck.」

The shocked faces of the crew members and captain are hilarious.
Celia, don't make that troubled face.

「Still, our allies are not in any condition to board their s.h.i.+p!」

I smile and lightly pat the captain's shoulder several times.

「I'll go by myself. I have reinforcements.」

Natia nods, while Celia's face tells me she's feeling reluctant.

「T-that's too reckless. Look how many of them there are! ……actually, who are those people anyways?」
「I'll explain later. Do you have confidence you'll win if you just stay on the defense?」

The captain doesn't say anything. You see, so we have to attack either way.

「Besides, I couldn't really fight with my full strength earlier because I was afraid to break the s.h.i.+p. If it's an enemy s.h.i.+p though―― you don't mind if I destroy it, right?」

「Haah? You couldn't fight properly?」

The captain is at a loss for words and the other crew members are also dumbfounded.

「You hear that…… he said he couldn't fight well before.」
「n.o.bles just drink wine and dance at b.a.l.l.s, right? They're not muscleheads who swing giant swords, right? I don't know what's what anymore.」

I'll have to meet my allies' expectations and go even wilder.
I glare at the nearing pirate s.h.i.+p.

Protagonist: Aegir Hardlett. 24 years old. Winter.
Status: Goldonia Kingdom Margrave. Great Feudal Lord of Eastern Area. Mountain Legend. Friend of the Dwarves. Friend of the King of Aless. Dragon Slayer Hero.
Elf Mediator.

Accompanying: Celia (escort, a.s.sistant), Marta (aide, bedmaker), Natia (stowaway elf)
Pipi (archer), Messerschmitt (worthless dog), Brynhildr (vampire)
Arbakin (Federation amba.s.sador)

Family:
Nonna (legal wife), Carla (concubine), Mel (concubine), Miti (concubine, expecting), Maria (concubine, expecting), Catherine (concubine, expecting)
Melissa (lover), Kuu (lover), Ruu (lover), Mireille (lover), Leah (???)
Casie (ghost), Rita (head maid), Yoguri (playwright), Alice (fainting in agony magical girl)
Marceline (pregnant lover), Daughters - Stephanie (lover), Bridget (lover), Felicie (lover)
Sebastian (butler), Dorothea (capital mansion supervisor), Claudia (giant meatball), Clara (female attendant)
Felteris (virgin eating)

Non-humans:
Lammy (plant caretaker), Mirumi (mermaid), Alraune (can move), Pet.i.t Roper (enlarging)
Pet:
Pochi (left behind)

Subordinates:
Irijina (commander), Luna (commander), Ruby, Myla (security officer)
Gido (escort unit), Polte (refugee case worker), Gretel (wife-dog-to-be)
Leopolt (staff officer), Adolph (domestic affairs official), Tristan (domestic affairs a.s.sistant, being overused)
Claire & Laurie (official merchant), Schwartz (horse), Lilian (actress), Kroll (servant), Alma (servant)

a.s.sets: 13,600 gold
s.e.xual Partners: 438, children who have been born: 55 + 555 fish

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