Chapter 1 – Story 17: Preparations

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The zoans carried out the large amount of food stored inside the encampment’s storehouses. The food, which had been largely stocked up in advance for the reinforcements that will come from now on, was a pleasant spoil of war for the zoans who had lost their food supply for surviving the winter.

“It seems we will be able to live through the winter if there’s this much of food.”

“True. But is there any need to expressly transport it to the refuge?”

He asked the clanmate next to him while shouldering a bag filled with grain.
At first, the zoans considered relocating to their recaptured village to lie in wait for the human troops there. In that case, they should instead bring in arms, fuel and provisions to the village from the refuge. However, what they were talking about was actually the contrary, transporting the goods from the village to the refuge.

“Aren’t we vacating this place and taking refuge even further within the mountain, since it seems that the humans will arrive here before long?”

Earlier, the talk about abandoning their current refuge and escaping further into the mountains had popped up. What made that impossible was them not having any winter reserves. However, now that they obtained this overwhelming amount of food that compensates for the food they lost before, it is something entirely possible.

“Now that you mention it, the others were made to proceed with the preparations for staying in the mountains over the winter, weren’t they?”

He said while remembering his brethren who entered the mountain apart from themselves.

“However, that human youngster has said that he will drive away the humans who will come next.”

Due to that, the zoans present at the location uniformly wrinkled up their noses and showed difficult expressions.
Certainly, they were able to retake this village by betting on a night raid as Souma had told them. But, their next opponent are military forces. Even if they, for example, succeeded in a night raid like earlier, their attack would definitely be exposed at the moment they killed several dozens at best. It was clear that it would become a desperate situation of being surrounded by several hundred enemies right in the middle of the enemy camp once that happened.

“What the hell is that youngster thinking…?”

That question of a clanmate, who muttered it after just now seeing Souma’s figure from behind as he ran into one of the storehouses after being called by Shyemul, was something shared by all zoans present.
Unaware of such looks being directed at his back, Souma was delighted about the information that the items he aimed for were discovered.

“That’s great! I worried about whether those things would be here, but now this becomes possible.” (Souma)

Having guided Souma to a small warehouse that was built in a place separate from the other houses, Shyemul tilted her head to the side while looking curious.

“I found the items just as you said, but will it be fine with those?” (Shyemul)

Once she moves the pelt covering the storehouse’s entrance aside, a strong, awful stench wafts out of it. They were greatly different from the items Souma knew about, but there won’t be any problems if they could be used in the same manner.

“Yea! Be careful while taking these out, okay?” (Souma)

◆◇◆◇◆

Souma stood on a mountain road that descended slightly from the encampment.
Last night, what he remembered first when he was pondering how he would repel 800 soldiers coming to attack, was this place.
One could say that Japan is almost completely unrelated to war, but that’s only if the talk is restricted to reality.
In subcultures such as manga, anime, light novels and games, every possible war beginning from the ancient times to medieval times and arriving at modern times has been adapted. It’s every possible war, to the degree that it would be considered lacking integrity if seen with the eyes of a non-Japanese.
Souma knows of the military strategies in the Annals of the Three Kingdoms from manga, has seen the way of fighting by Japanese Warring States commanders in animes, has studied the tactics in the ancient Mediterranean Sea​ in light novels and has fought by leading modern military forces in games.
To the bitter end those are no more than imaginary events.
However, at the same time as them being imaginary, it’s not like they are completely fictional either. Those were created with the experience and knowledge of fighting which mankind learned through expending massive amounts of lives and blood over a period of several thousand years.
And, this mountain road perfectly coincides with a certain stratagem’s condition which he knew from a famous manga.
If I plan to repel a large enemy army with a small amount of people, I have no choice but to use this, Souma judged.
However, the problem here is that going by Souma’s knowledge, he only knows that this place meets the conditions of that stratagem.
The manga doesn’t describe anything but the result of the plan succeeding. Even though a plan was carried out, it hasn’t been depicted as far as what was prepared for it or how things were prepared.
Then again, even if he was aware about those things, it’s not like the situation is completely the same as in the manga, no matter how well the conditions are met. Also, the things that must be prepared to match with this location will change the things that must be done. For that sake it’s probably necessary to revise the things to be done and to supplement the things to be prepared.
But, Souma doesn’t have the necessary experience to implement a plan by adapting it to the requirements of the moment, just like Garam has said.
In that case, what should I do?
If I don’t have any experience, I have no other choice but to guess.
Doing that, I can only guess every possibility like: What’s necessary? What would be the best course of action? What will happen? What should I do at that time?
First Souma starts to walk towards the encampment along the mountain road.

“Imagine! I’m a soldier. Around me there are many comrades!” (Souma)

Instructing himself strongly, he walks while his footsteps hit the mountain road.
And, looking at the encampment, he acts as if being surprised. After that, looking at thicket on the left, he acted surprised all the same.

“Well, what will they do from here on?”

After surveying the surroundings, Souma runs up the slope on the right side. The slope is steep, but he was able to run up to around the middle of it. Holding his ground at that location, he ponders while donning a complicated expression.

“A trick is necessary over there as well.” (Souma)

While saying so, he returns to the mountain road, and after once again making a surprised gesture towards the encampment and then the thicket, he now makes a surprised gesture while looking up further above the slope.
While busily surveying the vicinity after that, he began to move about in confusion at the spot by himself.

“What will they do next? What is their next action?” (Souma)

The sound of a river flowing on the other side of the thicket resounded in the ears of Souma, who grumbles out such a monologue.

“A river!” (Souma)

Once he says so, Souma starts to run towards the thicket all of a sudden. Even though it looked as if he would trip on the way because he broke into a run in such a hurry, he came out at the river after running through the thicket.
After Souma looks down at the river stream that turned the terrain into a deeper valley than he expected by shaving off the earth with its rapid current, he stares at the opposite shore. The width of the river is unexpectedly narrow, but even if one reaches it with a long jump, the river shore is small. Once he considers the depth of the valley again, it’s a distance where one will hesitate to jump over to the opposite shore although they likely won’t die even if they fall.

“All right!” (Souma)

Shyemul and a young zoan warrior stared at such Souma.

“Esteemed divine child, did his mind go crazy?”

Souma’s eccentric behaviour is such that it can’t be helped that that was said if one looks at his actions from some time ago.
As expected there are no words to defend him to be found.

“I think that Soma is planning something. Yeah…” (Shyemul)

were the evasive words Shyemul used.

“Shyemul! You are here at just the right moment!” (Souma)

Souma, who didn’t notice that such exchange had taken place, rushed over with a happy face once he noticed Shyemul and the young warrior.

“There’s something I’d like to build as soon as possible and there’s something I want you to do!” (Souma)

◆◇◆◇◆

“Oy, as for the hole, is something like that okay?”

A single zoan said as he dug a hole using a rod inside the thicket located at the mountain road’s side.

“Isn’t that the right way? According to what that human youngster said, it appears to be fine with it not being too deep. He said it’s plenty with a depth of around the lower leg.”

“However, I don’t understand. What are those holes?”

While confirming the depth of the hole by thrusting one leg into it, he tilts his head to the side in confusion. He has absolutely not the slightest idea what the use is of making them dig this many holes with a depth that a single leg can enter like this.

“No idea. Anyway, we have been told to dig many holes inside the thicket.”

“Let’s do it quickly. Once this is finished, we have to carry stones from the river shore next.”

“Digging holes and carrying stones, really, what are we doing?”

“I’ve told you that I don’t know, haven’t I? Rather than that, move your hands quickly.”

◆◇◆◇◆

Even in the refuge the zoans said the same.

“Although the humans are coming to attack, what’s the intention behind making these things?”

What the zoan was creating while moving his hands as he said so is a huge ball-shaped object. They were creating something that looks like a chestnut burr or a sea urchin boss by tying the sticks and branches gathered together in the mountains, all into one piece. They then crammed withered grass and dry leaves into the gaps, and after the shape is put in order, it transforms into a huge ball.

“Even if you ask me, I don’t know. That guy is probably planning something.”

“Dad, mum~! Mr. Ball is done!”

Even the children, who were mixed in-between the adults, played by making an armful of balls. Rolling around the finished balls and chasing after them while raising cheers, the children are charming, but at the thought of creating something that becomes the children’s toys, the adults feel disillusioned.

“We are warriors, right? Why do we have to do such stuff?”

“However, we were able to retake the village after following what that guy said, you know?”

Everyone sinks into silence due to those words. Something like doing a night raid without even naming themselves was a way of fighting unbefitting for a warrior. However, if the outcome is considered, it’s a military result where one cannot complain.
Many zoans wavered on whether it’s fine to admire it or whether it’s better to condemn it for that reason.

“Don’t talk nonsense. What gave us the village back is the strength of the warriors. That guy hasn’t done anything, has he?” (Gajeeta)

A cane heartily struck the head of Gajeeta who said that.

“Ouch!? W-What are you doing, Elder?” (Gajeeta)

“Hey there! How about moving your hands if you have the leisure to complain!?”

It was Gajeeta who voiced out his complaints, but due to the face of the Elder, who looks like a monkey mummy, reprimanding him while widely opening her mouth in front of him, he ends up bending back reflexively.

“Got it, Gajeeta? What’s important is not what you can do but what you will do!”

Being told so, Gajeeta, who took along the young warriors on his rampage yesterday and produced victims without being able to retake the village in the end, couldn’t retort with anything.
The Elder raises a loud laughter of 「Ka ka ka!」

“That youngster is interesting! Yeah, he’s interesting!”

◆◇◆◇◆

“Clan chief! The human soldiers, who stayed in the fortress, started to move!”

Receiving the report from the zoan warrior he had stationed as lookout, Garam nodded.

“Their movement was later than expected.” (Garam)

According to Garam’s predictions, the humans should have made a move much earlier. However, thanks to that, their side was able to spend plenty of time on the preparations.

“I wonder, how long will it take them to come here?” (Souma)

Due to Souma asking that, Garam folds his arms and ponders.

“Let’s see. It will take two days for them to get to the foot of the mountains. After camping there, they will climb the mountains from the morning on the next day, I suppose.” (Garam)

Garam makes such an assumption based on the behaviour of the human troops so far. If it’s around 800 human marching, they shouldn’t be too quick. Besides, since they are forced to match their marching speed with the speed of the carriages which have the provisions for 800 people loaded, their travel will become even slower.

“Then, they will be coming around daytime three days later, right?” (Souma)

“It should probably take around that long.” (Garam)

Hearing Garam’s reply, Souma breathed in deeply once and clearly declared,

“In three days they will be annihilated!” (Souma)

 


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