75. Chapter 75
A month had passed since Walm refused to drink alcohol, in the meantime, he devoted himself to training to restore his dull body.
As the sun rose, Walm stretched the magical barrier and repeated the 《Strike》stance, then he ran through the outer edge of the city. The body without alcohol felt heavy, and it wasn’t easy to regain the movement he could do before he ever dived into the muddy sea of alcohol.
After finishing the morning routine, Walm heated the well water with fire magic, and started to pour the warm water from the head. Sure, he had gotten used to cold water, but now since he started to regain his senses, he would of course choose warm water.
After bathing in the water, he opened the door of Gangut’s store, which in his mind had transformed from a bar to a restaurant. In the early morning, the hustle and bustle of the night had calmed down like a lie.
“Good morning, Gangut-san.”
“You always come to eat every day, huh. Let me remind you, this place, is a bar.”
Gangut, who was complaining, set the pot on fire and prepared the food. This was also because Walm, who had been drinking from morning till night, did not drop money as often as he used to.
The dish on offer today was a pie, potato, and bean soup in which cod and salmon were having a good time together. It didn’t take long for them all to disappear and be integrated into Walm’s body as calories.
After finishing the meal, Gangut called Walm.
“It’s a bit savage to say this as a job that suits you the best, but there’s a place where you can get hired and paid well.”
For Walm it was hard to believe that there was such a strange job, but at the same time, he was excited.
“It’s a battlefield. Lord Edgar is gathering soldiers. He has come all the way to the bar to recruit soldiers. Experienced military men and magic users are given preferential treatment.”
When Walm heard this, he was convinced. If it was a “social space” called the battlefield, no one would care much about your appearance and clothing. In this regard, Walm, who had military experience and magic, met the recruitment criteria and even could be deployed immediately.
“War, huh… who is the opponent?”
Obviously, it was a well-known fact that the “Three Big Countries” hadn’t had an external armed conflict for several decades. First of all, the countries where a war could be waged were limited. Next, the risk would be too great, because if there was a war between the three big countries that ruled as hegemons, other countries would also interfere in one way or another. If this were to happen, no exaggeration to say that it would be the last war of mankind in motion.
“It’s Count Meisenav. He hasn’t been on good terms with the Lord of the neighboring land, ruled by the Dalimarx Family, but it seems that the relationship has deteriorated at once since the Mithril Mine on the Demon Territory was found and captured. Looks like, a war between them will start soon.”
“As expected of being the owner of a bar, you sure know a lot.”
“I won’t make the food free even if you flatter me… I thought you’d jump in immediately, but you don’t look so enthusiastic.”
“That’s because, I’ve got tired of war.”
Walm looked back on the days since he was drafted. Sure he received payments, not that it was comparable to the local income, but more than anything, the welfare environment was poor. He slept with the corpses and danced in the deadly land every day, so much so that he even lost track of time because he had to be ready every time, even when he was sleeping. It was a lively workplace where people and monsters were killed as many as one could, whether in the morning or in the night.
“That’s a heavy story you’ve got there. Walm, you’re probably from Highserk, right? A lot of your friends are there. Isn’t it perfect for a reunion?”
“What do you mean?”
“You don’t know a lot of things, huh?”
Said Gangut to Walm, as if teasing him.
“For a year, going back and forth between your bar and my bed. Of course, I don’t know what’s been happening.”
“Thanks for your patronage, it was a good revenue. Should I dance as a thank you?”
“Don’t. My eyes will get hurt again.”
Who would like to see middle-aged dancing? Not Walm. Especially not when such sight had the potential to disturb the now calmed eyes.
“Now now, let’s get back to the main story. The border area is said to be a buffer zone with the biggest Demon Territory, but in reality, one of the remnants of the Highserk Empire gained control of the area there, and has been holding the line against the Demon Territory since. Highserk people, who seem to be having difficulty mining and managing the Mithril Mine on their own, and Edgar, who wanted the underground resources, have decided to mine together.”
It was surprising to hear the remnants of the Highserk Empire had been expanding out there. After all, as Walm watched the fall of the capital, he saw a considerable number of defeated soldiers.
Even when he fled to Kopetsk, the border city of the archipelago, Walm saw a sizable number of like-minded people like him. Most, however, had resigned themselves to reality and found new work, and the rest had become prostitutes, beggars, slaves, and drunkards. That being said, Walm, who had been so corrupt until the other day, had no right or intention to blame them.
“So, some of the survivors were trying to rebuild at the border huh…”
“Feel like participating now?”
Walm went to think silently.
No decent job, and money would be needed to get a cure. And a battlefield should be a profitable place. Walm understood it.
So far there was a convenient reason called “patriotism”, he went to war for the homeland, but if he accepted the recruitment, it would mean that he participated in the war, just for money.
“You’re thinking it so much, how unexpected. I thought you were the type who would kill people for fun. I mean, you beat a drunk adventurer to half-dead after all.”
“Really, was that how you think about me?”
Certainly, Walm crushed the adventurer’s face with his elbows, shook the viscera with his palms, and was on the verge of slashing the man with 《Strike》. But that was a reflex defense, and it wasn’t until the man pulled out a sword.
Gangut only slightly raised his shoulder and refused to answer.
Walm sighed. There was no choice. He could have chosen a profession that had nothing to do with war if he had had a normal eye, but now there was an urgent need for money. The only way he could make the most of his acquired expertise was to work on a battlefield. No intention of calling this sublime decision, of course, since it was the reality that he had to go to another battlefield for money. Even after knowing the fact that this would be no different from the adventurers he had no fondness for, or the mercenaries.
Helping former compatriots regain their footing, and even if they were from another Front, standing side by side with another Highserk soldier would perhaps comfort his brain, which couldn’t stop mocking himself this past year. Even if it might be a disproportionate idea to his mind which had been drowned in alcohol for too long.
Even with a lot of messy and silly excuses, Walm was impressed with himself for lacking integrity and deciding to participate.
“I see. Then, I’ll buy some good meat for dinner so that you won’t have any regrets. Want some liquors too?”
“Thank you, but no. I’m afraid I won’t stop drinking until morning.”
Walm was amazed at Gangut, who spoke words as if it would be the last dinner he would have. Still, he couldn’t help but think that the very few connections he had in the foreign land weren’t so bad, in fact, it was quite pleasant.
The people who had signed up for the draft were gathered at a farm in a suburb of the city. Some were ordinary soldiers, but most of them were militias who were probably the second and third sons of farmers who didn’t have the land to take over like Walm, and lastly, those who had trouble eating also participated.
Although they were excited to learn some martial art of spear, their bodies were thin unlike the regular soldiers and the casual atmosphere surrounding them told that they were battle virgins.
Many had a young appearance that could only be described as a boy. Some brought their own armor, but most were borrowed dust-covered armor and spears they had found in camp.
In the designated area, the crowded queue was so long that it felt like an eternity. Occasionally, a dull sound rang out from the distance.
As he was working hard to watch the people around him to kill time, Walm’s turn finally came.
The one handling the recruits was a man who seemed to be an old regular soldier.
The man, letting his gaze wander from Walm’s feet to his head, murmured.
“I believe you have military experience.”
“Yeah, I was attending the service until recently.”
“Are you from Highserk?”
Besides Walm, many Highserk people had run away from their homeland. Some of them participated in the war to get food. Naturally, the battle-hardened soldiers stood out, especially as they mingled with the common people.
“More than half are inexperienced people. So, even if you’re a stranger, you’re more than welcome.”
Half flattery and half real intention. Even if Walm was on the side of the regular soldier, deep down he was expecting more soldiers from other countries than a group of amateur people.
“What about magic and skills?”
“I can use fire, wind, and water attributes, but I can only use fire and wind in actual battles. And a skill… 《Strike》.”
The healing magician told Walm to refrain from using 《Demon Fire》. So now, it became a skill to be used only when the situation forced him. If it was used in a place where the operation was not well known, a large number of soldiers would be involved. In a case where most of them were normal, experienced soldiers, maybe it wouldn’t end so badly. But, he would only burn his allies if he teamed up with militias who were mostly battle virgins.
“Three attributes and 《Strike》 huh. I’m not being skeptical, but I must confirm it.”
The soldier summoned a young soldier who might have been a subordinate.
“Did you hear him? Please check it.”
Rushed by a young soldier, Walm was guided to a vacant lot on the nearby farm.
The surrounding area was full of embankments, and like Walm, those who had been pulled out of the crowd were showing off their practical skills.
“Shoot magic over there. You only need to show the fire attribute.”
Traces of destruction could be seen on the designated embankments. The earth had been hollowed out by various magics.
Walm glared at the dull sound that could be heard in the distance and thought that people must have had their fun with the magic test shot.
Leaving that aside, apparently, Walm was expected to use only fire magic because it generally had more power than others. Fire magic was best for creating a blockade, stopping an attack, and even making a breakthrough.
Walm refined his mana and aimed at the intended target. The Earth Attribute magic user politely formed a humanoid figure with soil. In total a group of five was made.
When the blue fireball manifested at the tip of his hand landed on the target, Walm scattered blue flames with hot air. The explosion blew up the five earth masses. On impact, it was as if the blue flame asking for more, something more exciting.
Said the young soldier excitedly.
Walm saw the wavering blue flame and exhaled a little. As he saw the burning mass of soil, the former battlefield flashed in his mind.
“Was that enough?”
“Next is 《Strike》 “
The nimble magic-user recreated a humanoid figure with earth in front of Walm.
Stroked it with his hand and tapped it lightly, Walm found that, not only hard, but the hardness was close to that of a human, and was suitable to show the cutting.
After removing the leather cover that covered the tip of the halberd, it didn’t take long for Walm to walk in the opposite direction.
In the case of the human body, the soil mass was cut from the waist to the shoulder lost its grip, was pulled by the weight and fell to the ground.
The soldier, raising his hand as if to surrender, took the ornate silver plate from his bosom and handed it to Walm.
“What? Is this money?”
Walm stared at what looked like an original coin used as currency in the area. The palm-sized silver plate was bulky and didn’t look easy to use for anything in particular.
The soldier laughed at Walm, who frowned suspiciously.
“I thought you were an experienced mercenary, but you don’t know, huh? It’s a silver plate that promises a reward. It’s worth it even if you have it melted down, but if you offer it in exchange after the war, you can get gold coins. There are several types. However, the silver plate has the highest treatment and compensation among the applicants. Let me tell you this, most mercenaries get copper plates, you know.”
For the moment, Walm felt happy to be highly rated. Then something struck him. That perhaps, this full-advance payment was to prevent those who might run away before doing their job.
“What if the Dalimarx Family got destroyed in the war?”
“Don’t be so imprudent. It’s a battle over a Mithril Mine. No matter how greedy the Meisenav Family is, we won’t be destroyed. Maintaining the mine and the buffer zones at the same time will only sound like a trouble for them. And if they dare to burn the city, most of the Central Region that like to be a bystander, will have no choice but to take action.”
Couldn’t understand the soldier’s explanation, the embarrassed Walm raised a question.
“So, the Meisenav Family won’t burn villages and cities?”
The soldier opened his eyes wide, as if Walm was a monster or something scary.
“This is why the northern countries are said to be crazy about war… The only battlefield is around the Mithril Mine, which was recently claimed from the Demon Territory.”
Walm doubted his ears. The mission this time was purely to occupy the target, not to attack the rural and urban areas that might be the source of troops and supplies, or the source of the plan. It just sounded strange to him.
“Haha, I see…”
Wonderful, really, wonderful. Wars in the Archipelago sounded more peaceful and intelligent. There was no defensive battle where one had to stake their life even in their sleep, no battle of annihilation for military and civilians, and no all-out war with the nation at stake. Walm was relieved at how easy the war would be.
Didn’t mean to be despicable, but if what he had to do was just kill the people with gold as a purpose like him, he could feel a little less guilty, and it wouldn’t worsen his muddy conscience. Of course, there might be exceptions, but no clear distinction could be made. In the end, Walm could only treat others as equally as possible. And perhaps, it was the best way for him to approach this.
“It’s a good country.”
Walm leaked these words from the bottom of his heart.
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