“I am very sorry, but the army cannot be immediately deployed.” Marmanno spoke in a strained tone. He wanted to help and almost seemed mortified at the fact that he couldn’t.
“The Basharian army engaged our own near our country’s southwestern border only three days prior.”
Damn it. I guess that means they got their hands full.
“More than half of Greengoat’s soldiers have been dispatched to serve on the war front.”
“But still some here?”
“The forces we have remaining are just shy of what’s needed to match an army of ten thousand monsters.” Marmanno cast his gaze downward and frowned.
“I’m sorry. All I can do is pray that the villagers are able to escape and make it all the way here, to Greengoat. This city’s walls are the only ones sturdy enough to ward off a literal army of monsters, and I will be needing my troops to defend the city when the time comes. I can’t afford to have them march. That’d be no different from telling them to cast their lives aside.”
Oh, I get it. He’s thinking about letting the monsters siege the city since he doesn’t have enough troops to face them head on, and he can’t exactly keep turtling without the numbers to fight the damned things off.
“Any earth mages? Can make big wall to stall.”
“The only man in this country capable of making a wall big enough to stop an entire army has already taken his place on the Basharian front. I doubt we’d be able to get him to respond to our calls.”
“But at the very least, I’ll get in touch with all the other governors immediately and check to see if they have any troops to spare. I’ll confer with the army as well, just in case.”
“How much time to arrive?”
“A few days at the very least…” Marmanno frowned. “We’ll have to wait till they’re here to march. We can’t have our troops losing their lives and exhausting themselves before we’ve amassed our forces.”
I understand that Marmanno’s not throwing his troops at the army right away because it’d be a huge waste of lives, but I can’t really bring myself to accept the notion of abandoning all the villages. I know it’s ultimately a choice that’ll save more lives, but he’s practically just leaving them to burn. Not that I’m trying to blame him or anything. As a governor, his choices made sense. Each village only has a few hundred people at best. Numerically speaking, it makes much more sense to focus on protecting the tens of thousands that live here in Greengoat. I had nothing to say. There was no fault in his logic.
Fran also understood the lord’s grievances, so she immediately stood up and got ready to leave.
“T-Thanks for understanding.” He heaved a sigh of relief. “Where are you headed now?”
“Finished business here. Next, Adventurers’ Guild.”
“W-What do you think of spending a few more days in Greengoat?” Marmanno would benefit greatly from having Fran remain. The widespread knowledge of her might made her mere presence enough to relieve the townsfolk of their concerns and boost the soldiers’ morale, not to mention that she would be able to contribute drastically to the city’s fighting force. There was no doubt that she would strengthen its defenses.
“No. Will not abandon my tribe.” Fran turned to him and spoke with purpose, blunt and concise as always. It was ironic. The two were effectively working towards the same goal: protecting their people. And Fran’s tone reflected just that. There was no malice in her voice, only conviction.
Marmanno, however, failed to catch her drift. He seemed to think that her ironic statement was meant as a critique of his policy. The goatkin promptly got to his feet as his expression twisted in frustration.
Oh shit. He’s pissed. Or so I thought.
“I’m… sorry.” Contrary to my expectations, Marmanno wasn’t actually angry. He was frustrated, but not irritated by Fran’s actions.
“As a man and a warrior myself, I respect your decision. I would do the very same if I was in your shoes. Saving those in need is none other than my creed, the pillar atop which my pride rests. But as lord of this land, I cannot act.”
Rather, he was vexed by his own inability to take to the field and save all that he could.
“Please, Black Lightning Princess, go in my stead. Save the villagers to whom I’m unable to extend my hand!”
The goatkin’s body quivered with emotion as he bent his hips forward and bowed as deeply as he could.
“Thank you. I can’t possibly express just how much this means to me.”
Fran charged out of Marmanno’s mansion and made a beeline straight for the guild. Greengoat was as large as one would expect of a city in which several major trade routes converged, so it took her a good bit to make it all the way over.
“Hellooooo?” Fran called out as she entered the guild to get as quick a response as she could.
“Good evening, Black Lightning Princess. How many I help you?”
“Emergency. Need to talk to Guildmaster. Let me meet right now.”
“Yes ma’am.” Again, Fran’s reputation came in handy. She managed to get the receptionist to do exactly as she wanted with no questions asked whatsoever. She disappeared for about three minutes to get permission before returning and leading Fran to her destination: The guildmaster’s room.
The man we ended up being shown to was an old mage with a long, white beard. Like Fran, he had evolved. He was pretty damned strong.
“What brings you here today, Black Lightning Princess?”
“North. Army of monsters incoming.”
“Come again?” The old mage’s eyes went wide.
Fran immediately filled him in on the details. He first reacted to her query with shock, but soon got ahold of himself.
“You say that this army contains over ten thousand members?”
“Want adventurers to help.”
“Of course. I don’t see any reason for them not to, but…” The guildmaster as he pressed a fist against his chin.
“We lack our usual numbers. About half of our adventurers have already gone south.”
“Adventurers joining war too?”
Wait a second. Aren’t adventurers supposed to be exempt from conscription? I could’ve sworn I saw something like that in the rules back when we first joined up.
After a moment of pondering, I soon recalled that adventurers were often people that didn’t wish to be tied down to any particular state. They travelled all over and often operated outside their country of origin. Thus, they lacked patriotism. Most didn’t want to be pulled into international conflicts. I’m pretty sure there’d be far fewer adventurers affiliated with the guild if they didn’t have the anti-conscription clause in place.
In fact, the guild had signed many an international treaty that guaranteed its members freedom from conscription. The guild was responsible for taking care of bandits and monsters, but that was it. Of course, like all treaties, the guild’s contract was not respected by all. The Reidosians had blatantly ignored it and conscripted adventurers in the past. All those that attempted to defy them were deported and banned from the country. And yet, despite their underhanded douchebaggery, the Reidosians were still completely and utterly defeated. The Reidosian Adventurers’ Guild was shut down, and the country itself was rendered almost completely devoid of the profession’s practitioners, even to this day.
The Reidosians were both the first and the last to ever attempt conscripting adventurers. Countries still do try forming contracts with specific adventurers with clauses that mention cases pertaining to war, but that’s pretty much it these days. The only people who accept those contracts are people who are passionate about the countries they live in, like Amanda and Jean.
Consent had become the key word—forcibly recruiting adventurers was just a flat out no go.
“All of those who went did so of their own accord.” The guildmaster smiled. “This country is made by Beastkin, for Beastkin. The knights and soldiers that serve in the military are not the only ones that wish to protect it.”
Ohhh. Right. I forgot. This country’s a bit special. The Beast Lord used to be an adventurer, didn’t he? I guess his policies must really support people that share his background in that case. Huh. I think I can see why so many of this country’s adventurers are willing to fight.
“So we’re short on hands. I doubt you’d be able to get enough people to fight off an entire army, even if we went around recruiting from all the nearby towns.”
“Want as much help as can get.”
“Got it. But do keep in mind that it’s possible we might not be able to gather more than just what’s needed to keep Greengoat defended.”
“Nn…” Fran frowned, but nodded regardless. “Got it.”
“Will you fight to your last?”
The guildmaster cast his gaze on Fran as she got to her feet. His eyes seemed to be telling her that he wanted to say it was better for her not to go, but a single glance at her face silenced him. He knew. He knew her people lay to the north. And from her eyes alone, he’d determined her stance.
“Bye.” Choosing not to answer, Fran left his question unanswered.
“Farewell. May the tides of battle surge in your favour.”