This ch is long enough to be split into 2 part, so yeah…
8-1. Chapter 8 (Part 1)
The Myard soldiers, unable to defend the border, gathered in the capital, Aidenberg. The envisioned scorched earth tactics hadn’t been implemented, and on the other hand, the Highserk Empire had gained an intact breadbasket.
The problem was the Sarria Battalion, composed of the former citizens of the Kanoa Kingdom. Although they contributed significantly to the capture of the mountain castle, which was a crucial point, plunders and insults continued to be rampant even after the battles, regardless of whether the opponents were citizens or soldiers. There was no doubt that they were compatriots of traitors, depending on the point of view, but still what they did was too much, so much so that a guard was dispatched to supervise the battalion.
Such a Sarria battalion had the task of wielding the whip and was useful in the conquest of villages and towns. After all the Highserk Empire, which would be the next to govern the place, didn’t want to look like a villain after the annexation, so the Sarria Battalion was deployed to pull the chestnuts out of the fire.
After the siege, Duwei Squad searched through the woods in a line. This was because a report came in about a guerrilla force made up of the enemies who had escaped the siege. While they didn’t seem to have strategized properly beforehand, the attacks, which seemed to be constantly targeting supplies, suggested that they had to be gathering information and food from the surrounding villages in the shadows. About one platoon of soldiers had been killed, and non-combatants in the caravan who were in responsible for transportation were also been killed.
“There must be a magic user.”
“Yeah, this is a wind attribute… and a fire attribute.”
Squad Commander Duwei and Jose crouched over the lined-up corpses and recognized the magic attributes used from the scars.
“…There are two or more magic users.”
Willart, a magic user looking from a little further away, added this information.
The wounds carved into the body were from rips caused by wind magic and explosions caused by fire magic. Walm also suspected the possibility of someone using magic with two attributes, but given the amount of magic used in a short period of time, it was more natural that there were multiple people.
“Uhh… this created by magic too?”
“What’s, this? The face has been crushed.”
Rookie Noor and Barito distorted their face as they looked at the other corpses. Among the corpses with stab or slash wounds to the vital parts, they found, some had their faces crushed and some were missing their heads. In any case, it was as if they had been blown away by something.
“This isn’t from a halberd. And too wide for a war hammer.”
Walm was accustomed to seeing the corpse beaten with the war hammer. He had also used the halberd that he had gotten from the enemy’s commander in the previous battle, and so, was somewhat familiar with what kind of wounds it could cause.
When Walm was thinking about the true cause, the answer came from behind him.
“It’s from a shield.”
The answer came from Squad Commander Duwei, who had been accustomed to corpses on the battlefield for many years.
Finding it unbelievable, Noor muttered so.
Walm agreed. He also thought that it was too powerful for something caused by a shield attack. He had no idea what kind of big man could cause that much damage just by swinging a shield around.
“Perhaps, it’s someone with “Skill”?”
Jose, thinking, asked Squad Commander Duwei.
“Yeah, guess so. I’ve seen a similar corpse before. At that time, I saw a person’s head disappear with just a shield bash. Same with skill 《Strike》, it’s something that has a lot of users too… I’m sure it’s the skill《Iron Wall》. Even a wooden shield will feel like a heavy iron.”
Now that Walm could use the skill 《Strike》, he understood how powerful a skill could be. Even if the opponent was wearing iron armor, it could be torn unilaterally just by using the skill. The advantage of having a skill was immeasurable.
“Aaah, they’re just a bunch of defeated soldiers. But, what a troublesome opponent.”
Jose muttered disgustingly.
“The opponent this time is mixed with a small number of adventurers. The captive soldiers said so. Even if it’s a losing battle, really, what a bunch of weirdos. Anyway, be careful. Experienced adventurers are better than regular soldiers in a battle. They’re usually well equipped and have good ability.”
“It seems that you’ll get something good if you can defeat them.”
Barito, the rookie, laughed after saying so. But his expression said otherwise. It was clear to Walm that he was trying to look strong.
“Oi oi, Barito, our enemies are someone with skills and magic users, you know? Imagine fighting Commander Duwei, Walm, and Willart at the same time, do you think you can win?”
“Well, no, it’s impossible even if there are 20 me.”
“Good that you understand.”
Seeing that Barito admitted the mistake, Jose nodded with satisfaction. It was great that Jose, the educator, was doing his job properly. Still, Walm couldn’t believe that even he was included in the non-human group.
“By the way, what is “that”…?”
Noor pointed in horror at the body of a man hanging from a tree. The whole body was pierced here and there, and apart from the head, one couldn’t tell that it was the corpse of a human being.
“Hmm? Oh, that. That’s the villager who sold our information and provided food to the defeated soldiers.”
Jose said this as if it were the norm.
At the same time, Walm remembered himself when he was a rookie and asked a similar question.
“A, aaa… Is that so? I see…”
In truth, Noor wanted to say, “You will do so much?”. This was something that would leave a very bad taste after all, but she understood sometimes this was necessary in a war.
Thirty soldiers and six citizens (labor workers and merchants) wouldn’t have died if the villagers hadn’t provided information and food. But the resistance of the people in the enemy bases had plagued the armed forces of all times. And the soldier, faced with a choice between annihilating the people in the villages themselves or executing a small number on a stage to make an example for other villagers, would make a different choice from time to time. This time, the surviving Highserk soldiers attempted to suppress them with a small number of executions.
“Get ready. It’s about time…”
With the call from Squad Commander Duwei, the squad members stepped into the depths of the forest. Since it was extremely difficult to search with only a few people, a company of soldiers was immediately sent out, and the squads searched in a line every 20 meters. Even if the enemies were skillful, it could be soon over. Walm was optimistic about seeing the end of this soon and strode into the woods like any other soldier.
On the second day after the search, a squad was ambushed and 12 people died. Seven soldiers were injured by traps and bows during the search, and four sentries were missing. Fortunately, there was no damage to Duwei’s squad, but the entire company became enraged, plus the hard-to-walk forest and the hatred toward unseen enemies could be felt growing within them. The search dragged on, so the soldiers were gathered. Now, the members of Duwei’s Squad were leaning against a large tree for a short break.
“This is bad”
The one who opened his mouth was Jose.
“It’s true that we’ve searched around on a company scale, but there’s no result at all.”
250 soldiers had searched around for three days and found nothing. The time for the advance to the capital, which would be the decisive battle, was approaching, but the threat to the transport route couldn’t be left unattended either.
“Although they’re locals, they’re too skillful in hiding their traces. Seems like they’ve really gotten used to the forest.”
Squad Commander Duwei looked cautiously at the ground, turning his gaze forward.
“Is the scout that skillful?”
Noor, standing next to Walm, asked a question.
“Even if it’s a skillful scout, it can’t be just one. There must be two or more skillful guys who are watching us as we approach the main forces.”
Walm didn’t believe that the opponent was mainly the defeated soldiers, because if it were only them, they wouldn’t dare to wage a guerrilla war.
“Rather than scouts from the soldier side, it’s more likely Myard’s adventurers.”
Squad Commander Duwei answered everyone’s questions with such a conclusion.
Barito, the rookie, said the word.
Speaking of adventurers, they were active in the demon territory that covered half of the continent. Subjugating and dismantling monsters, capturing labyrinths and ruins, escorting transportation units. Basically, it was a general term for people who were active in a wide range of activities. The guild that organized the adventurers had stated that they had a base in every country on the continent and that the organization wouldn’t interfere in war.
In reality, local adventurers were often hired as mercenaries in the name of free will. The armor, made from relics and rare demon materials, could give enormous power to the one who wore it. Even a single person wearing it could change the battle situation. Such a monstrous adventurer could surely be found out there.
In addition, there were rumors that the guild’s private army was involved in conflicts that were considered detrimental to the guild.
The Highserk Empire, Walm’s homeland, placed a great emphasis on strengthening armaments, and with surplus troops taking the place of adventurers, there were few opportunities for adventurers to play an active role, but they were a normal presence to be seen in other countries.
“It’s true that adventurers are more accustomed to surveillance and search than soldiers.”
Born as the third son of a small merchant, Jose, who had hired an adventurer before, nodded as if he were convinced.
During the break, Walm was amused by the talking about the enemy’s identity, but most of the squad members were busy eating rations and smoking. Walm also inhaled the cigarette he had bought from Jose and exhaled it slowly. The purple smoke that rose from his mouth slowly spread into the sky. While tasting the smoke, he asked a question that suddenly came to his mind.
“Will the smell of cigarettes be noticed?”
“Are you stupid? Our body odor is smellier than cigarettes. Bring me a wolf. I’m sure it’ll hate our smell and won’t come near.”
Even if Jose laughed and denied it, Walm didn’t stop enjoying the cigarette.
“Should we put on some perfume?”
Barito said something that was hard to tell whether he was serious or not.
“That’s, a good idea. Should we all wear a skirt as well?”
Laughing, Squad Commander Duwei replied with a joke.
Walm also loosened his mouth and smiled a little. There wasn’t much time left to enjoy silly jokes. In five minutes, Walm would have to continue the hide-and-seek with the enemies in the woods, which seemed to last endlessly.
Should I make preparations now?
As Walm vaguely thought of preparing for the search and was about to move away from the tree, he heard a scream and, following it, several explosions. As the soldiers lying on the ground jumped up, they all drew their weapons at once.
“3, no, 400 meters away. They were caught in the search network.”
Everyone agreed with Jose’s words.
“We’ll go around from the right side. We’re going to enclose them. Don’t miss the enemy. Moveeeee!”
Squad Commander Duwei jumped out as he shouted, and the three idiots started moving behind him. At the end were the rookies, Noor and Barito.
Walm squeezed through the branches that clung to his body and continued trudging through the weeds. Unkempt forests were full of natural obstacles. The sap from the tall weeds stuck to his body as it forcefully penetrated. The smell of the weeds was so bad.
TN: Here, the full image of the character design of Jose
JOSE (Character Design 3)
TN: Join my discord channel if you want.