Hello ( ´ ω ` )ノﾞ (Oh wow, it's been a while since I did these)
Yes, I'm now posting chapter in parts because of how long these chapters are. I hope you guys understand. Also, I'm not really sure how to divide these yet so hopefully, the part where I decided to stop doesn't ruin the story… The next part will be posted on Sunday at the latest. The next chapters after that is still TBD.
Chapter 45 Part 1: That time when the enemy launched a surprise attack so I launched one myself too
It was the afternoon of the fifth day after I left Aegirine when we finally arrived at our destination, Tephroite.
We didn't come across any other villages aside from the ones where we took our breaks so we arrived a day earlier than expected.
Also, while we were traveling, I've raised the status of the prisoners in my mind into 『unpopular old men』.
That's because of all of the time I spent with them while we were traveling. Although I could have stayed in an inn in the villages we passed, I decided to sleep together with them in the stables at the bottom of the guard station while saying, 『I want my body to get used to sleeping on the ground』 as an excuse. Because of that, we didn't end up in such a gloomy mood while we were inside the carriage on the way here.
Since I was basically free to do what I want during that time and I had a bit of time before I went to sleep, I asked the old men to tell me stories of their friends who have been in the army.
「If you go out to the battlefield, you should bring some handy things with you if you can」
Hearing such things, I realized that it would be better if I have some tobacco on hand so I went out to buy some.1 That completely slipped my mind since there isn't anybody around me who smokes, plus there are only a few shops that sell them.
In exchange for the information, while the soldiers weren't looking I snuck in some fruit wine and a hearty soup that I bought from a bar. They were all sobbing as they started drinking the soup in my cup in turns and the sake straight from the bottle.
「Who would have thought that even after becoming a prisoner, I would get to drink a hearty soup and some sake. Really, thank you」
I wanted to know why they were caught so I tried asking. It seems like they got into a dispute and cut off an arm of one of the members of a rival party during a raid subjugation request. Their entire party was held accountable, so that's why they were imprisoned.
It kinda feels like they were all just imprisoned so that they would have a lot more prisoners to send to the frontlines though so from then on, rather than prisoners, I've started labeling them as the 『Unpopular old men』instead.
I could probably also attach that label to the werewolf and werecat old men back in the village but I think those guys would be popular with those that prefer the rugged type look. The fox eared old man looks gallant though so I think he was popular in the olden days but I've already given them the title of 『the three unpopular old men』 so it can't be helped. Incidentally, as for the wine bottle, I had to return it to the bar in the middle of the night.
Once we reached the town, the old men were taken to a pretty large military cage while I was led to the room of some big-shot in the army.
「So your Caam from the rumors… What's with that shabby appearance? I won't even bother asking about your armor but weren't you able to buy a decent weapon at least? I've heard of the rumors but I'm sure what Cravatte-sama heard was just an exaggerated version of it. You're just a Rank 4 underling of the guild without any training after all so you'll just get in the way of the army」
That was what the high-handed commanding officer told me as he was scanning documents in his hands. What's with this shitty pig?
「Hmm, isn't that quite a praiseworthy attitude」
「Yes, even without saying anything, I understand that I'm just a civilian without any experience」
「It's good if you understand. Now leave」
「Well, there's just one thing I want to ask. In the directive that I received from Cravatte-sama, it says that 『Until your departure, you will receive your accommodation expenses from Tephroite's military affairs representative』. I'd like to receive the said accommodation expenses please」
「Don't know! I'm not giving you anything」
「Even though it's written here?」
He's starting to get mad so I decided to fan the flames a bit more.
「Shut up! Go away!」
「Understood. I'll just go and report this incident to Cravatte-sama directly」
Saying that, he tried to stop me by saying that so I went out of the room to run away. Since I remembered the path that was used when I was being led there, I exited the establishment at a quick pace.
After that, I began to make my move.
I went to the inn near the gate and asked for the price of their cheapest room. Then, after finding out where Cravatte-sama's residence is, I made my way there.
Unlike the one in Aegirine, this town's upper-class district is surrounded by a high wall and it seems like there's only one gate to get inside.
I'm not really sure if they'll let me in but I'll try and see if showing them the directive works.
Reaching the front of the gates, I was stopped by the guard as expected.
「May I ask which of residents here you have any business with? Do you have a written invitation?」
There's a chance that somebody from the upper-class districts is expecting some important guest so they were acting in a really polite manner. If I had to guess, the soldiers here aren't from the military but are most likely employed privately by the people living here.
「I don't have a written invitation but I have a directive that I have received issued by Cravatte-sama. I have something I wish to inquire with in regards to that so I was thinking of making my way there」
「Understood. We have been informed by Cravatte-sama that although he is currently busy, we can let anyone who's looking for him in as long as they aren't a merchant. Let me guide you there」
That's good. If I was turned away, I would have had to use my own expenses to stay at an inn.
I followed after the soldier. We passed through a few intersections but we just kept on walking on a straight path.
After reaching a dead end, I was led to one of the larger residences there.
「We are here」
You didn't really need to guide me here you know? You could have just pointed towards the path and told me to follow the road to the end then I could have handled it myself from there. If you did that, there would have been no need for you to abandon your post.
「Thank you very much」
After bowing politely, started to go back. Nnー, if only all of the soldiers were like this, I'm sure that I would get along with them better.
Looking at our exchange was another soldier who said.
「Welcome. Please let me guide you in」
This guy is probably privately employed as well. Contrary to his robust and intimidating appearance, he said that in a hoarse voice.2
From the residence's gate, we walked around thirty meters before we reached the actual front door of the mansion.
「It's a guest for Cravatte-sama. Please let him in」
The muscular man said that to a dog-eared girl wearing maid clothes who answered after he knocked. Then, he went back to his post.
Ahー, this maid outfit looks nice. It's really plain and puts more focus on functionality so you won't really mind if you get it dirty. It's completely different from those with the high exposure frilly mini skirts. As expected, a maid outfit should be like this.
「Dear guest, if I may ask, what business do you have with our master?」
While I was thinking about that, she suddenly started talking to me so I was a bit surprised.
I showed her the directive and told her that even though I met one of the big-shots in this town's military, I didn't receive the funds that were promised so I came to report it.
「I understand. Please just leave your luggage over here and follow after me」
After saying that, she lead me to some kind of parlor room. As I was waiting, a fox-eared maid brought me tea.
「Cravatte-sama is on his way so please wait for a little while longer」
She immediately left after saying that.
From the way her sharp eyes were looking coldly at me, the fox-eared maid gives me the impression of being a total sadist. Makes you excited, right?
I didn't have to wait that long before a refreshing Borzoi-like man entered. Is this Cravatte-sama? I stood up and bowed but he just said.
「Ahー, don't worry about that. You can just be at ease. Nice to meet you, Caam-kun. I've heard all of the rumors about you. I haven't heard the full story but it seems like that greedy pig said something to you, didn't he?」
That greedy pig you say? This person just said something amazing without smiling.
「Yes sir. I showed him this directive while bringing up the matter about my accommodation expenses butー」
「I don't mind if you just talk normally you know? I don't really like formalities after all」
I was interrupted. The fox-eared maid earlier was behind him staring daggers at me so I was afraid of saying anything imprudent.
「I brought up that thing about my accommodation expenses but he just told me, 『I don't know! I'm not giving you anything!』. When I tried asking again, he just told me to shut up and leave. If he needed to prove my identity, I was going to pull out my guild card but I had no chance to do it」
「Ahー, is that so? That pig doesn't have anything else in his head aside from lining his pockets with his money so he's probably unwilling to give that to you. I gave him 10 gold coins though… Give me a moment」
He told the fox-eared maid behind him to get something. He's probably going to give me the funds himself.
「Ah I'd also like to ask when we'll depart for the front lines」
「After 3 days I think. You should just do your preparations early and wait at the gates at that time since we'll gather everyone in front of the gate before heading out. Tell the commander of the transportation corps that I sent you. You're pretty easy to recognize with the color of your skin and your weird equipment so you don't have to worry about them doubting you」
Is this guy really the noble who rules this area? I've heard that he's a really nice character but compared to the nobles I know from manga, he doesn't have any trace of majesty at all.
After a while, the maid brought back a tray with a cloth bag and handed it to Cravatte-sama. He placed it on the table to confirm the contents then handed it to me.
「That's probably enough, right?」
I was surprised when I saw that there were 10 gold coins among the other coins inside. Isn't this too much?
「No, it's actually too much. While I'm on standby, renting a room in the inn near the gates is enough for me. I just came here to report that incident regarding one of the higher-ups in the military」
I panickily withdrew.
「Just take the amount you need then. You see, as much as how I would want to see that pig punished, it would difficult to dispose of him right now……」
「Master, any more than that and…」
She interrupted with a really cold voice.
「Ahー I'm terribly sorry about that. I shouldn't really be complaining to a guest」
After that weird exchange, I decided to just take a single silver coin.
「Is that really all you need?」
「Yes. One night's stay is just 3 large copper and 5 copper coins after all」
「But what about the remaining 5 copper?」3
「It won't hurt my pockets even if I cover the remaining 5 copper by myself」
「What about your meals?」
「I'll just take care of that by myself」
「That's no good. I was the one who summoned you so I don't want you to experience any inconveniences as much as possible」
He handed me 2 silver coins. He probably realized that I'll just reject it if he hands over a huge amount. I would have been troubled there if he decided to forcefully give me that absurd amount of money.
「Hn? Is it not enough? Should I take out one more coin?」
「No no no, this is more than enough」
I immediately replied that while putting the two coins inside my wallet.
He probably knew I would react that way if he tried giving me more so he did that in order to make sure I couldn't refuse. He is good at understanding somebody's state of mind. This is probably as expected of a noble.
Then, after bidding farewell, I returned to my room at the inn and then waited till evening to go to a bar.
This town is so big that I think I'll find one or two soldiers drinking in one of the bars by the main road. There will probably be some guys affiliated with the guild as well. It doesn't seem like there's an order to ban them from drinking even though there's a war happening for some reason.
Oh good, there are a few here. I thought I saw someone wearing it at the gate earlier but there's someone wearing a thin plate armor complete with a full face helmet placed on a chair. They're a pair of beastkin. I should build up my courage here.
「Excuse me, I'll treat you to sake so could I ask you something?」
「What is it?」
He gave a quite a vigilant reply but that's understandable if someone you don't know starts talking to you at a bar. I wasn't ignored so we can at least continue.
「What do you soldiers think are the necessary things to bring when going to the battlefield?」
「Huh? Is that it? Let's seeー」
He enumerated stuff like food, weapons, arrows, etc so I simply wrote all of them in my memo. His companion who's drinking across him also added.
「Oil would be good as well so that we can lubricate the moving parts of the armor」「Ahー, that would be nice to have too. We can also use it to prevent rust」
「Ah. Thank you very much. Miss waitress, please bring us two of the same drink to this table」
After saying that, I gave them my thanks and then left.4
Hmmー, oil huh. That completely slipped my mind. Well, I don't wear armor after all and you don't really go to a battlefield to cook in the first place so I didn't bring any with me. I'm sure that there's some oil that's used specifically for armor in the fort but I don't really want to spend time looking for it. Well, instead of looking for that kind of oil, I'll just buy a bit of oil that's used for cooking as a substitute.
Also, if I can find tobacco there, I should buy it too.
I'll probably find the addictive stuff as well. I wonder if those are good for something.
Three days later, I quickly finished my lunch then went to the guild branch to replenish the funds that I spent. After that, I went outside the gate to wait.
During my three day wait in this town, I had the chance to go up the wall so I decided to observe the military's training.
At that time, 3000 men lined up horizontally were training with the Testudo Formation that the Roman Army used to defend against arrows from above. There sure were a lot of beastkin soldiers in this town.
『Hnー this isn't good, is it?』I thought.
If it was a melee similar to a castle siege then I could probably manage somehow but if it's on the plains then I'm sure it'll end up with us just lined up while charging in. If this was during the time I was still alive in Japan, we would just be gunned down or fall victim to mortar fire.
I don't know what the humans are doing to deal with a magic battle but they would probably just focus fire at this group.
While I was recalling that, a reptilekin old man started talking to me.
「Are you Caam-dono?」
「Yes. That's right. Are you the commanding officer of the Transportation Corps? Also, you don't have to use formal honorifics」
「I understand Caam-san. You can just call me Yaoul(ヤウール). Nice to meet you」
「Same to you」
Uwaー, what a really polite person. Even though I said that there's no need for honorifics, he still didn't remove it. I've had a bad impression of the soldiers because of all that I've met until now but it's nice to know that they're not all bad.
「I'll just go over it again but Caam-san's duty is to guard the Transportation Corps. Please stay at the end of the caravan」
「Understood. Where's the carriage?」
「Let me lead you there. Please follow me」
We walked past a line of soldiers and continued on until we reached the very last carriage.
「This carriage is at the end of the caravan so please put your luggage here. I think there's still some space for your rucksack inside but if there's none, please just put it on top of a barrel」
Uwaー. How lax. If I had to say which one is preferable, I think it would be better to be strict if we're talking about a military but I personally prefer for it to be lenient. However, it would be easy for a commando unit to attack us so I'd like it if we were vigilant at least.
In the modern area, a unit transporting goods frequently gets attacked by guerrilla units or targeted by an air strike after all.
With that lax mood, the pig started his speech about sending reinforcements and supply to the base in the frontlines. Or rather, I'm not really sure if that's what that pig is talking about since I'm pretty far away.
Based on what I can hear, it seems like it would take 5 days on foot to reach there. Five days you say? Aren't we going to be at a disadvantage if we take that long to get there? Well, what do I know? I lived during peaceful times back in my previous life and even in this world, I live somewhere that's unrelated to all of this after all.
As I was thinking that, everyone else in the unit was already getting along while I was walking quietly by myself. Or rather, everyone is chattering so loudly that it's starting to be annoying.
-4th day of walking-
「Hey Keith, we might get ambushed by the enemy soon. There might be scouts wandering around so be careful」
「That's true. It's about time so we should focus」
We were walking behind the caravan while maintaining vigilance. We really are at the end of the line.
By the way, Keith here is a dog-eared guy who seems to be also hired from the guild. During these few days, I found somebody who was also hired from the guild so I got along with him.
Instead of the droopy dog ears I've seen until now, he has the short upright type. That's too bad since I think that droopy ears cuter. Ah, I'm talking about the animal okay?5
We continued walking while being as vigilant as possible. We need to pay attention to the back as well.
「Hey, are the beastkin's noses good?」
「Ha? Yeah, it's good.」
「Then please pay attention to unusual smells as well」
While we were walking, I noticed the unnatural shaking of the slightly tall grass on the plains. It might be just a goblin but it could be a human as well. I looked at Keith but since he was facing downwind, he didn't notice it. Because of that, I created a small water ball and launched it on his feet to get his attention.
We decided on a signal if either one of us notices something beforehand so we don't need to vocally call out to each other. I point two fingers to my eyes then look towards that thicket while pointing at it with the same fingers. This is the sign we decided for an enemy.
They might find out that we're on to them if we act poorly so I extended 3 fingers and slowly folded them one by one as a countdown while I prepare my preemptive attack.
Dot sight, on.『Image・a small red dot of light at the center of my gaze・Activate』
I aimed at the direction of the enemy then started casting magic to flush them out.
*Boom!* Flame burst out as if a flammable gas was lit on fire.
「Enemy on the left side!」
Together with that shout, I produced an obsidian axe while the holding my shovel in my left hand then charged at them in one go.
Keith started shooting arrows to the humans who stood up out of confusion. Meanwhile, I drive my axe into the thigh of one of the humans while hitting the others in the head with the handle of the shovel. I didn't really want to use it like an axe hoping that they would faint. They have helmets though.
After that attack, we found out that there were 10 enemies in total. Is this equivalent to a single squad? As for Keith, every single one of the humans hit with his arrows were splendidly hit in the vital spots or the thick blood vessels in the thigh. I'm sure that they would die even if we leave them alone and there wouldn't really be any point in treating them. It's probably best for me to prepare myself to kill soon.
The soldiers who came rushing after that surrounded the few people who were still alive. Hearing the noise, Yaoul came.
「What a huge achievement. Thank you very much for clearing them off before we were attacked. Please tie the ones that are still alive. We can either use them as bargaining chips or torture them for information. Iyaー, we have to make use of this opportunity」
After saying that, they finished off the ones that were dying while they guys I hit were tied up.
「Oーi. It's clear. We can now proceedー」
The caravan began to move forward again after that but I continued being vigilant of the surroundings. It would be troublesome if there are other scouts after all.
While Yaoul-san was thanking me, I didn't stop paying attention to my surroundings.
I pointed towards a thicket at a distance away.
「That thicket over there moved even though there's no wind」
Because of that, Yaoul-san got the nearby soldiers to run to that thicket. The spears that they pierced into the thicket just went straight into the ground so it was probably nothing.
『Fourteen from the first unit were done in, four captured and only I was able to escape. It was a crushing defeat. They either had someone with really good senses or they were cautious. We were suddenly fired at with magic. That was probably a mercenary』
『I see. However, our mission is to destroy the goods they're transporting so we somehow have to……No, we need to make sure to destroy those to prevent food, weapons, and medical supplies from reaching the fort. If we manage to do that, it would give us a huge advantage』
『I agree but our forces have been dwindled down so I'm not really sure how we should approach this』
『We need to link up with the third unit who's lying in wait in the forest ahead. We need to somehow decrease the demons' numbers there』
『Understood. You can also include my second unit to our numbers』
『Got it. Move quickly』