The group of us left Titan Fall’s boat without incident. The girls immediately pushed off from the shore and began heading down the river, leaving into the Ost Republic. As for us, we had about an hour of walking to do so that we could rendezvous with Lord Tibult.
The sun was just starting to set, and soon we’d have to head into enemy territory with the hopes of rescuing Otto’s brother. Having the Tibult family owe me a favor seemed like a good idea, but more than that, I was doing it because I didn’t trust in Otto to be able to do it himself. The guy seemed to have a track record of failure. One could argue that the connecting component in all of his failures was me, but I wasn’t going to point that out at this moment.
By the time we met with Tibult outside the city, night had already fallen. Insects sung in the grass and the nearly cloudless sky was filled with starlight. The sky of this world did not match the sky of Earth. I was never that good at astronomy, but I knew that much at least. I might not know of any specific constellations, but one had a familiarity with their own sky that made an alien world instantly recognizable.
Among the biggest differences was how vast and beautiful it was. This wasn’t a world filled with light pollution and smog. The sky was extremely clear, and I could see more stars now at dusk then I’d ever see in a city in my old world during the best viewing times.
“What took you so long?” Tibult demanded angrily, but then lowered his head and blushed. “I’m sorry, I was just worried you wouldn’t come.”
Lord Tibult hadn’t stopped being the arrogant noble he always was, but he was also a man who understood his place. He was asking me for help, and I outranked him as a noble. I wasn’t angry at his slip. In some ways, I pitied him. Believe it or not, he and I had a lot in common. At least, when we’re talking about the me from before I came to this world.
However, where I was poor and didn’t have the background to act lazy and arrogant, Lord Tibult had grown up under a rich family. The one benefit was that no one had ever expected anything from me. Mother wouldn’t have cared if I lived with her until I was forty. The only one who ever pushed me to do anything was a certain cousin, but she was away at college, and thus she only came over once or twice a year to nag me about how I’m not more active. Ironically, she was just as fat as I was, but she insisted that she could lose weight any time she wanted, so I humored her.
“Did your soldiers manage to get the outfits?” I asked, ignoring his slight.
He let out a breath of relief and nodded excitedly, then gestured to the soldier to hand us a bag. I opened and began to go through it as he spoke.
“Those are enemy armors and weapons. With that, we should be able to sneak in. I brought ten of my most trusted men. They’ve been with me the longest since I’ve been here.”
I nodded as I found six outfits. How well they’d fit me and the girls, we’d find out in a moment.
“Then, the plan has begun,” I said. “We’ll sneak into the fort where your brother is being held, and then we’ll get out of there!”
Simple plans were usually the best plans. We’d sneak into their fort using their outfits and the cover of darkness to get in. Once inside, we’d locate his brother as quickly as possible. As soon as we discovered his brother, the rest of it was easy. I would create a portal and return all of us back into Aberis territory. Portal was a high-powered Blue Mage spell. Only top-level Blue Mages could cast it, and then it would cost most of their magic to do so. By cashing in DP, I had truly found an OP spell. No one would expect it.
Even if we were found out, I was confident we could escape. The most stressful part would be getting into the base. As for the Ost Republic being filled with Osterians, that wasn’t completely the case. Humans lived in the Ost Republic too. There actually weren’t that many Osterians alive, and so they typically lived peacefully around humans.
Osterians were great fighters, and it wasn’t uncommon to see them in positions as Adventurers, Dungeon Divers, and high-ranking military. It was said that one Osterian typically equaled five humans on the field. At that rate, how would Aberis have been able to hold out if Ost Republic was all Osteria? Fortunately, the vast majority of their armies were human just like our own. There were also half-Osterians, who were tall and muscular but not at quite that size.
Big Sister in Chalm also was big and muscular and had red hair, but she was only a half-head taller than me. It was possible she was half-Osterian, although I had never asked. Actually, I had never even heard of Osterians until earlier today. Perhaps, instead of reading up on Alchemy, Dungeon Lore, and Job Skill Trees, I should spend some time reading about this world’s history and species.
Dwarves appeared like lolis, Esmere were short descendants of elves who lived in the hills of Esmore, Osterians were part giants who lived on the plains of the Ost Republic. Animalkin came from Dioshin. Elves were basically extinct, but the last was found in the Imperial Cloud Meadow. Humans were from Aberis and the Imperial Cloud Meadow but could be found in other countries. Demons came from the Demon lands, but they were products of the dungeon known as Hell’s Dungeon. Monsters came from other abandoned dungeons, like those in the wilderness next to Aberis. There were also colonies of sometimes sentient species like the fairies. I wondered about Jespain and Shie Gescar.
I was only thinking about such things so I wouldn’t have to think about what I was doing. We were going to try to blend in as a human unit and sneak into a fort of an enemy. Using a privacy screen created with Shao’s shadow magic, the girls changed into Ost Republic outfits while Tibult and his men did the same on the other side. I had already finished dressing, only to find the outfit a bit baggy on me. With her size adjustment abilities, Celeste had the easiest time fitting in her outfit. Eventually, every girl swapped until they found one that fit them comfortably enough.
The soldiers were less picky and seemed to force the clothing on whether they fit their body or not. The result was that anyone who looked too closely would notice that the uniforms were clearly not intended for the people wearing them. These weren’t enchanted to shrink to the proper size or anything; they were just random uniforms picked off of random stray soldiers. They’d have to do.
“You know… in Jespain, I hear they make dress rings,” Otto muttered while trying to force himself into pants a size too small for him. “They allow you to pick 7-8 garments and just swap them right onto your body without all the work. Great for people ready for battle.”
“R-really!” The girls dropped their privacy screen, and all seemed to look at Otto excitedly, making him cry out and finish pulling on his pants.
I didn’t bother to tell him the screen had only been one way, and the girls could see everything of the guys while they saw nothing.
“C-can we get them?” Terra cried out excitedly.
“I want one too!” Lydia said.
All of the girls seemed eager. Apparently being able to change clothing from armor to something more casual instantly is highly desired among the women in my group.
“A-as to that… good luck finding it here. Dioshin are isolationists and don’t send goods. Only Jespain is known for their enchantments, but anything that came would have to be exported through Shie Gescar and Imperial Cloud Meadow, two countries that do not get along. That’s why all of the enchanted stuff over here is either really weak or taken from dungeons.”
The girls looked a little disappointed by this. As for me, I found it quite interesting. Basically, what he was saying is that if I could get to Jespain, using my Portals, I could open up a very profitable trade negotiation. Then, as I looked out at the border of the Ost Republic, I could only sigh. I’d just have to add that to my ever-growing list of things to do.
The men that Lord Tibult had selected had made many incursions into the Ost Republic. It could also be said that they knew what fort his brother was being held at. That’s because there were only two forts anywhere within range. Fort Detrimix was a bit east of Nyphal, and the place where Otto had officially been stationed. He had been tasked with keeping the fort going while his family were out on excursions.
On the Ost Republic side was a place called Fort Pride. This was being held by an unknown general. They were supposedly someone of great renown, but Otto didn’t know his name. I wanted to reprimand him about knowing your enemy or something, but I hadn’t bothered to do my research either, so I guess we were in the same boat.
Either way, the men knew paths to enter the Ost Republic in secret, and our troops moved cautiously out from our starting point. Once we entered the area where soldiers patrolled, we had to dodge our own men as much as theirs. If we had informed our own what we were doing, we might as well announce it to the enemy. This is why we kept it as a small group of only 18.
Otto expressed confusion as to why I was bringing the girls along. He knew them to be good fighters, but in his mind, this was a stealth mission, and they’d be a risk. Surprisingly, it wasn’t an attempt to ridicule women, but rather he wanted them to be safe.
“Huh? I thought you hated women?” I asked in shock.
He rolled his eyes. “I have a sister, you know. Just because I’m not attracted to women, doesn’t mean I want to see them hurt.”
I narrowed my eyes. “That didn’t stop you from abandoning Lydia in a dungeon!”
I felt a little angry at that. Lydia grabbed my sleeve but didn’t meet Otto’s eyes. Up until then, she had been avoiding looking at her former Master. I had almost sent her as Faeyna’s guard specifically because I didn’t want to get into this.
A guilty expression formed on Otto’s face. “People change… after experiencing death myself…”
That didn’t satisfy me completely. He still had the mentality that women were useless. He evolved a bit. They weren’t garbage to be tossed away, but they didn’t have his respect quite like men either.
He looked over at Lydia and bowed his head. “I’m sorry for how I treated you back then. At that time, I didn’t hold any value for any life but my own. I can only say I’m glad that you found the Master you were looking for.”
“Ah…” Lydia looked away even more, but I could tell by a slight purring sound from under her throat that she was pleased by this.
“Now is not the time.” I hit him in the head softly, and he blinked. “We’re reaching the enemy side of the skirmish zone. If we were caught by our side, it’d be embarrassing, but you’d be able to talk us out of it. On that side, it’s do or die.”
His face went white, but he nodded in affirmation.
As we continued forward into the Ost Republic side of the skirmish zone, I had Miki hide our spirits from detection, Shao used shadow magic to obscure us in shadows, and Celeste used her wind to hide our smell and sound. By the third time Lydia’s Scout ability caught a patrol and kept us from being seen, even ahead of the soldier who was designated as the Scout, the soldiers nor Tibult saw any issue with having women on the team.