T/N: There are a few words with a different font. Those depict words that were written in katakana by the author, aka not understand by the zoan due to the language barrier.
Shyemul, who stood at the window, can hear the drum sounds reverberating in the distance if she strains her ears. The meaning of these sounds are 『Charge』, 『Failure』, 『Enemy』 and 『Trap』.
“The attack failed. The enemy set up a trap.”
Upon those words Souma, who was behind her, had his breath taken away.
“…! So I was right after all. Are Garam and Zurgu fine!?”
“Calm down, Soma. I can’t hear the drums.”
Souma shuts his mouth in a hurry after being told so by Shyemul.
The following signals are 『Retreat』, 『Loss』, 『10』, 『4』 and 『Comrades』. 『Loss』 is a signal that heavily emphasized that something was lost rather than something having failed. In that case, it probably means that they lost something, but were able to retreat. And it would be common sense to consider what was lost as the following: 『10』, 『4』, 『Comrades』.
“Although they were able to withdraw, they lost fourteen brethren.”
Shyemul makes an effort to describe the content depicted by the drum sounds indifferently, but even so Souma grits his teeth due to the naivety of his own planning while feeling as if he’s getting reprimanded for having missed the enemy’s trap.
Once the drum sounds continue even further, Shyemul doubted her own ears.
It’s not only Shyemul either. The zoan present all stand up at once with a serious look, drew near the window and strained their ears.
For the sake of reliably conveying important information, the signals are always repeated a second time. If they didn’t mishear, the same drum signal should be played again.
In the end the same drum signal resounded once more.
Shyemul recounts the content signalled by that drum sound almost unconsciously.
“The enemy is the Black Beast.”
Shyemul, who came to her senses after Souma asks her with a parroting of her words, let out a great breath as if she were spitting out the rage in her heart and then responds to Souma after she somewhat regained her composure.
“It’s the flag hoisted by the enemy who in the past defeated the All-Clan Alliance in the plains.”
Instead of Souma, who still doesn’t comprehend quite well, the facial color of Marchronis changed.
“Is it a flag that depicts the side profile of a gold-threaded lion on black underground?”
“Lion? You are right if you are talking about a beast growing hair on its head, but…”
Due to Shyemul’s reply, Marchronis appeared to have received a great shock and staggered towards the ground.
“T-That flag is the flag of General Darius…!”
“General Darius? Do you know him?”
Even as he trembles violently, he somehow manages to answer Souma.
“There’s no way for me to not know him. He’s called Holmea’s greatest general. But, no way…for His Excellency to personally…!?”
It’s highly unlikely for anyone living in Holmea to not know about General Darius. Even Marchronis wielded his spear on countless occasions under General Darius in the past.
However, he didn’t expect for General Darius himself to appear as the leader of this punitive force. Putting aside if it was a battle with their arch-enemy Romania, if it’s at the level of a rebellion within the country, he should be recommending the young commissioned officers to take up command due to him getting on in years. Of course, calling himself elder is a means with the intention of letting the young officers accumulate experience in actual battles, but Marchronis was under the impression that even this time would certainly be the same.
Souma spoke the name of the enemy general he finally learned as if he were thoroughly chewing on it.
“What kind of person is he?”
“He’s a person who leads battles in a steady and secure manner. Without any haughtiness and without looking down on his opponents, he corners the other party by taking reliable measures as if applying established tactics on a game board. That’s the kind of person he is.”
That’s a troublesome opponent. Especially in this time’s case, where we have few numbers while the enemy has many, it’s a common practise to attack by making use of the enemy general’s conceit and negligence. However, since he’s skilled enough to have seen through our surprise attack and countered it by laying a trap, I can’t feel any kind of conceit or negligence from him, just like Marchronis said.
Souma resists his desire to slump to the floor due to being at his wits’ end, so that he can take as many measures as he can think of right now.
“Contact Garam. Tell him to have only a few warriors cling to the punitive force and to return with the rest as fast as possible!”
Even if might be only a few, they will be cautious of an attack if they see any zoan. That should lower the pace of their march. And, while it buys me a little bit of time, I have to think of a breakthrough solution during that respite. Receiving his order, a warrior leaves to play the drums in a hurry.
Next he urges Marchronis to leave the room and secretly orders a zoan warrior to strictly monitor his actions. Because of Marchronis’s look when he heard the name of General Darius, it’s a necessary step so that he won’t do anything this late in the game.
Moreover, since Shyemul was very agitated in a similar manner, Souma, who felt it necessary to also confirm the condition of the other zoan, told Shyemul,
“Shyemul, I’m sorry, but go to check the state of everyone who’s outside the city.”
The zoan live in the wild plains, so they naturally dislike a crowded environment. Because of this, they stayed in the plains outside of the city walls except for the warriors that were necessary for maintaining the city’s order.
“Gotcha. Then let’s go together.”
Souma shakes his head towards Shyemul who naturally intended to go together with Souma.
“Sorry, please go by yourself, Shyemul. Everyone might hide their true feelings if I’m there.”
Shyemul hesitated to act separately from Souma, but even she understood that it wasn’t a situation where she could say something selfish as this. While still feeling reluctant over the matter, she calls out to the nearby Shahata.
“Shahata, sorry, but I entrust Soma’s protection to you.”
“Please leave it to me, Divine Daughter.”
Once Shahata consented readily, Shyemul finally left the room.
After sending Shyemul off, Souma depressedly hangs his head.
It’s the worst situation.
Souma lowers his eyes on the map spreading out on the table. From the bridge until Bolnis where they are, there was apparently no other place to stage a surprise attack. He pondered whether to carry out a night raid at their camping ground, but it’s highly unlikely for an opponent, who saw through the surprise attack this time, to be unable to predict that kind of attack at this point.
However, he was absolutely sure that they wouldn’t be able to win in a siege battle or in the open field.
“What should I do? What’s the best option here?”
However, there’s no way for a decent plan to pop up in his mind that easily now after all that happened.
Should I propose abandoning the city and retreating to the plains?
Such an idea comes to mind, but it’s evident that it’s no more than a stopgap measure. Due to his own cowardice that makes him incline towards such thoughts of escape, Souma encouraged himself by slapping both of his cheeks.
However, he ended up hitting himself stronger than he intended, and far from raising his spirit, he feels as if he sees stars in front of his eyes
At that instant Souma thought of a good idea.
“…! That’s right! There’s that as well, isn’t there?”
What came to Souma’s mind at that time is something that was used by a protagonist that was summoned to a different world, just like himself, in a manga and light novel he read in modern Japan.
If he can actually implement it, he will literally blow away their current predicament.
It was an idea that had that much of a potential to turn around the hopeless situation.
In a fluster Shahata chases after Souma who is about to fly out of the room.
“Sir Soma! Where are you headed to?”
Souma turned around to Shahate while walking in a quick pace and said the following:
“The blacksmith’s workshop! I’m going to meet Dvalin!”
A previously vacant land located in the outskirts of Bolnis had now become the dwarves’ blacksmith’s workshop. In the smithy that was surrounded by windbreaking partitioning screens, the sounds of still red-hot steel being forged resounds throughout as if it could tear apart one’s eardrums, and several furnaces are billowing flames with roaring sounds.
The one who was supervising this smithy was Dvalin. Not only is he a first-class warrior, but he’s also a craftsman to the level of being entrusted a workshop in his homeland, the Obsidian Kingdom. According to Dvalin’s orders, the dwarves devoted themselves to the production of armors and materials around the clock in preparation for a siege battle.
Souma, who plunged into the workshop while bringing Shahata along, discovers Dvalin on the other side of an anvil, stripped of his shirt and holding a mallet.
“Dvalin, do you have a moment!?”
Dvalin, who noticed Souma who was having a shouting competition with the smithy, gave several orders to the nearby dwarves and went over to Souma.
“We won’t be able to talk here due to the noise. Let’s go outside.”
Once Dvalin goes outside the smithy, he dumps a wooden bucket of water over his head to cool off. While steam rises from all over his body as if he just poured boiling water over himself, Dvalin, who wrung out the water by squeezing his beard, urged on Souma to start talking.
“So, what kind of business do you have with me?”
Souma braced himself and asked,
“I’d like you to tell me if you know, but is there a black powder that explodes or burns very strongly once ignited in this world!?”
“What’s that supposed to be? A burning black powder, is that something that changed into powder after burning black stones or charcoal?”
Burning black stones is about coal. Even in this world, some of the people such as dwarves used coal that was mined from underground as an important fuel .
“No, although it does transform into an ingredient for charcoal powders as well, it’s something that burns even more intensely when you mix it with various other things.”
Dvalin wracked his brain over it for a while, but apologetically answered,
“Hmm. … Sorry, but I never heard of something like that.”
“Not at all! It’s better if you don’t know about it!”
Souma tightly grasped his fists.
“As expected, that means there’s still no black powder in this world!”
What Souma came up with from the manga’s and light novel’s different world adventure he read was black powder.
As everyone knows, black powder is the oldest gunpowder used in history after mixing charcoal, sulphur and saltpeter.
“With this the goddess of victory is on our side. It will be fine as long as we put black powder to use.”
As one might expect, they wouldn’t have enough time to create guns.
However, there should be plenty enough of an effect by simply making the black powder explode. Even in the modern era where people know about gunpowder, there’s no one that wouldn’t be shocked by the sound and light of it exploding. Much less to say that it will likely be an unknown terror for the humans of this world who don’t even know about black powder.
The first weapons using black powder which the Japanese encountered are said to be 「Thunder Crash Bombs」 which were used in the Mongol invasions of Japan. It’s something similar to a grenade that had black powder and plenty of iron scraps crammed into an earthenware container. It was thrown at the enemy after igniting a fuse.
According to the records of these times, the cavalry and warriors froze in surprise due to the sounds and smoke after it exploded, and there were also many people who lost their lives to these bombs.
‘If I cause explosions within the dense ranks of the heavy spear infantry in the same manner, there’s no mistake that it will cause a big chaos.
“What’s that, this black powder?”
“A terrific weapon. If we use this, we can create guns and bombs.”
Souma told Dvalin as much knowledge about guns and bombs as he knows himself.
It’s a pleasant feeling to showcase one’s own knowledge to others. Unintentionally Souma even forgets about the pressing time and doesn’t notice how long he spent talking about all the information he has on black powder and the weapons which use it.
Even Dvalin, after hearing about such weapons for the first time, seemingly got excited as a dwarven craftsman and attentively listened with his eyes sparkling like a child.
“Hoo, it’s quite the amazing item, isn’t it? That black powder or whatever.”
“Yes! You create it by combining charcoal powder and sulphur together with saltpeter. Given that even I don’t know the exact mixing proportion, we will have to experiment with it several times though. — Ah, I wonder whether we will be in time? We have to get started as soon as possible.”
Souma was flustered as they they have to start working on it as soon as possible, but his expression was cheerful. That’s because it’s a bright idea he came up at a point where he worried whether they have no other choice but to run away. It can’t be helped that he’s in such state either.
However, even that hope vanished due to Dvalin’s next remark.
“By the way, I do know of charcoal powder and sulphur, but what’s saltpeter?”
“Saltpeter, you say? That’s—”
As Souma tried to explain saltpeter, he was lost for words.
“Umm, how to explain it…?”
Saltpeter is a type of nitrate called nitric acid potassium.
This nitric acid doesn’t burn by itself, but it possesses the property of releasing and resolving oxygen once it’s heated. If highly concentrated oxygen and flammables catch fire in a mixed state, it will cause intense combustion reactions such as explosions. Saltpeter is mixed into black powder as the oxygen supply. This saltpeter is naturally collected as crystal in arid regions, but one can hardly find it in warm, damp climates. For that reason saltpeter was produced through the old soil method, the culture method and the saltpeter hill method which made it possible to extract saltpeter by decomposition through microbes from things like excreta in medieval Japan. 1
However, there was no reason for Souma, who was a very common senior high school student in modern Japan, to know what to do to obtain saltpeter and what’s necessary for it, even if he is aware of the word saltpeter.
“What is it? Even someone like me won’t be able to create something they don’t know.”
Souma had no words to reply to Dvalin who seemed to have given up on it.
Unfortunately black powder was never implemented in Souma’s era. For black powder to actually be invented on this continent of Seldeas will be around 200 years later.
The ones who would implement black powder for the first time were dwarves of a northern kingdom. They armed themselves with large quantities of guns and bombs, invaded one neighboring country after the other and in the end dominated two thirds of the entire continent.
After that, the kingdom was renamed into an empire, but at the ceremony of the empire’s inauguration, the first emperor Alsyov has stated something along the lines of,
“Those of you who turn their blade against us, fear our weapons! These guns and bombs are divine works of destruction personally granted to us by our great ancestor, the 『Divine Son of Destruction』!”
It’s said that the people on the continent trembled in fear due to the wisdom of the 『Divine Son of Destruction』 still exhibiting its menace even after several hundreds of years had passed.
Shyemul, who returned from the zoan encampment outside of the city, felt relieved that should would apparently be able to give the worrying Souma good news as the unrest among her brethren was less than expected.
Although their surprise attack was seen through, it luckily didn’t develop into a major failure because ordered the retreat just before the human ambush. Realizing that their enemy is General Darius who has a fateful connection with the zoan, her brethren’s fighting spirit has risen instead.
Even so, there were also some who felt anxious.
Shyemul called out to those zoan and ascertained them that they can believe in Souma. Being personally told that by Shyemul, the divine daughter of the God of Beasts, her brethren at least somewhat regained their composure on a surface level, and told her that they would support Souma without any changes.
It took her more time than expected to mostly finish touring the encampment.
Shyemul was about to hurry back to the feudal lord’s residence, probably intending to give Souma a peace of mind as soon as possible, but just as she passed through the city gate, she discovered the figures of Souma and Shahata, who came back from the blacksmith’s workshop just now, in the distance.
Wanting to give her report at once, she calls out to Souma who still hasn’t noticed her.
However, even though she made the effort of calling out to him, Souma doesn’t notice her.
Shahata, who noticed it instead, pointed her way making Souma apparently become aware of her at last.
However, even though Shyemul waved her hands, Souma only returned a non-committal wave of his hand and started to walk while casting his eyes downwards.
Even though she went to check on everyone as told by Souma, it’s an unexpected reaction. Having been sure that he wants to hear about the state of everyone, Shyemul stares in puzzlement.
But, once Souma exits her sight entering the shadow of a building after turning around a corner of the street, her excitement is superseded by something murky that welled up in her heart.
Shyemul folded her arms and frowned sullenly.
Since she was told to do it by all means, Shyemul had reluctantly left her guard post, expressly headed to the encampment, checked whether her brethren are feeling shaken and soothed those who felt uneasy.
And yet, what’s with that attitude? Shyemul wonders.
Right, I did my best after all. If he’s my Navel Master he should thank me for my hard work and listen to my report even if he has to neglect other things.
If Garam was present, he would have commented the matters Shyemul was seriously considering with 「Why are you acting like such a brat?」.
Was Shyemul struck by some kind of idea? She revealed an impish smile.
The more hope he invested into black powder, the bigger Souma’s disappointment.
However, he cannot afford fussing over this matter forever either. He must think of a method to fight the advancing punitive army with the military power he currently has.
Not wanting to postpone it for a moment longer, Souma frantically wracked his brain even on the way back from the smithy.
In the end I have to efficiently make use of the zoan’s strength, which is our biggest military power, in the battle.
In that case, what is the zoan’s strength?
I guess it’s their running speed that’s equal to a horse when on four feet, and their mobility.
And, if I plan to make use of that mobility, I have no other option but to fight in the plains. They would incessantly attack the weak spots in the enemy’s formation while freely running around and using their mobility.
However, we will be discovered long before we can launch a surprise in the plains due to the unobstructed view, and the other side will be able to adopt a stance that can deal with us.
Originally, a unit that has such mobility and lightweight equipment displays its power by restraining the movements of the enemy as a vanguard. However, the dwarves and dinosaurians, who will act as the vanguard unit on our side, have slightly more than 300 troops. They definitely won’t be able to receive the attack of the punitive army with its 7,000 soldiers and restrain their movements.
Souma roughly scratched his head.
The more I think about it, the further I fall into a stalemate.
At that time Souma heard a voice calling out to him from the distance.
However, Souma, who is immersed in his own thought, doesn’t even notice. Once Shahata looked in the direction of the voice, he saw Shyemul, who was apparently about to return from outside the city, waving her hands this way from a distance.
“Sir Soma, the Divine Daughter is calling you over there.”
Being told so by Shahata, Souma finally lifted his head.
“… Huh? What’s wrong?”
“The Divine Daughter is over there.”
Once he looked in the direction pointed by Shahata, he saw Shyemul grandly waving her hands just like a puppy that shakes its tail in delight upon meeting its owner.
However, Souma, who is worrying about what to do from now on, returns a apathetic wave and immerses himself in his thoughts once again.
Seemingly surprised by that kind of attitude of Souma, Shyemul ended up stopping suddenly with her hands still in the air.
And once Souma turns into a side street in order to return to the feudal lord’s residence, she starts to show a sullen mood that’s easy to see even from far away.
That’s bad, Shahata thought.
Folding her arms with her lips forming the shape of a へ is a behaviour that was sometimes shown by the young Shyemul who was an unwomanly leader of the kids in the past.
For example, when those brats ridiculed me during my childhood when I couldn’t run due to that leg injury. Or at the times she was scolded by Elder for wetting her bed.
It’s a gesture the young Shyemul showed at such times.
And, after showing that gesture, Shyemul would always do something good-for-nothing.
At the time when I got ridiculed, she first delivered a dropkick to the guy who started with the mocking, then fought against the remaining brats by herself, which unfolded into a huge brawl. In the matter with Elder, she threw insects she gathered in the mountains into the Elder’s hut as she slept.
Both of them are memories I don’t really want to remember all that much.
At the time with the brats, she smacked me and shouted「Why don’t you get angry!?」 after she beat up everyone. At the time with Elder, I was caught together with her, albeit having tried to stop her, for some reason, and had my butt slapped by the Elder’s palm to such an extent that I couldn’t sit anymore for a while.
Shahata, who believed that she’s definitely planning something because of those bitter experiences, calls Souma to halt in order to warn him in advance.
“Sir Soma, do you have a moment?”
However, it was already too late.
“… Eh? Something?”
In front of Souma, who looked over his shoulder, something that jumped out from the side stands in the way.
Naturally Souma ended up bumping into it without the time necessary to avoid it. Souma, who got slightly repelled to the back, is flustered and confirms the thing that bumped into him.
“You are careless, aren’t you Soma? You have to properly look ahead while walking.”
It was Shyemul.
“Eh? Huh? Shyemul? We-Weren’t you over there…?”
Behind Souma, who is surprised about Shyemul that should have been far ahead on the street until just now, Shahata sighed as if to say “Good grief”.
Shahata, who was several steps behind Souma, saw the whole event, from the start to the end, when Shyemul appeared in front of Souma. Shyemul jumped in front of Souma out of a nearby private house at the side of the street. It’s very likely that she ran through the back alleys and in between the houses in order to surprise Souma as she probably couldn’t stomach being given the short stick.
She’s still immature, Shahata was fed up, but Shyemul looked smug for having surprised Souma more than she expected.
“It can’t be helped that you don’t know what to do, but it’s wrong to forget about paying attention to the surroundings because of that. — No! Since you are wracking your brain for our sake, I have to help you by always accompanying you after all, right Soma?”
Shyemul nodded after agreeing with herself, but after a short time she notices that there’s no response from Souma. Once she looks at him, Souma is staring at her in a daze with his eyes wide open.
“Soma? What’s wrong…?”
Maybe I ended up triggering something terrible even though I only intended to prank him a bit? Shyemul, who became worried, timidly calls out to Souma.
Thereupon, the frozen Souma raised his voice all of a sudden.
“Right! That was it! I misunderstood!”
Shyemul and Shahata back off in surprise due to Souma abruptly yelling. However, without even noticing the state of those two, Souma seems immersed in his own little world.
“Umm… for that we have to use the terrain. I also read in a book that one should offset a disadvantage in numbers by capitalizing on the terrain. Ah, but such convenient terrain… no, no! At any rate, I have to search for it!”
After saying that, Souma suddenly started to run away from that place.
“Sir Soma, what’s going on?”
Due to that, the panicked Shyemul and Shahata call out to Souma to stop him.
“I’m going outside the city for a bit! Tell everyone that they don’t have to worry!”
However, Souma didn’t stop his feet, and left the two very confused zoan in the dust.
1 – Old Soil Method: a method to extract saltpeter soil under old houses – Saltpeter Hill Method: As supply from outside Japan became difficult because of various political incidents at that time, they invented this method which separates saltpeter by piling up a mix of soil, garbage, excreta, limestone and foliage that contains nitrogen in well-aired huts, and urinating on it regularly. UP