Chapter 157 – Freedom


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“It’s a boring mission, isn’t it?”

Straddling the special horse, which only lives in the settlement of the blue-skinned demons, and gazing at the humans’ military forces that can be seen on the other side of the wastelands, Bashim, who is the general of the demon’s army, pinned down and stroke his beard with a finger, he had licked, while venting his dissatisfaction.
The mission he was given is 「reconnaissance」 to the bitter end. He had been instructed to keep the combat to a minimum. Simply put, he is to fight for just a bit to confirm the humans’ way of fighting.
The result of this operation is an important move that decides whether they will aim for hostility or peaceful exchange, but even if he understands it with his head, his dissatisfaction only piles up as far as Bashim is concerned.

“At last we were finally liberated. Shouldn’t we let all races know about our existence by raising flashy war achievements?” (Bashim)

Due to the death of the former king, who was quite strong, a new king took the reins.
The details regarding that have been concealed. Excluding Vepar, who became the ruler, the majority of the personnel, who frequented the castle, including Vepar’s subordinates, has died or gone missing.
Even Bashim wasn’t informed of what happened in the castle as he wasn’t promoted into one of the opened posts. Among some of the rumours it’s even said that it had to do something with a joke-like powerful human, but Bashim hasn’t believed in that from the very beginning.

“The former king had the hobby of experimenting and researching magic. In that case it’s only natural to think that some kind of accident occurred during one of his experiments.” (Bashim)

It was said that the former king Agachion obtained an immortal body as result of his magic experiments. The fact that he died is also proof that the rumours weren’t true, I guess. However, there was no room to doubt his knowledge and strength. At the very least it’s correct that he was strong to a degree that made others think that he’s immortal.
Bashim sensed something unnatural about Vepar’s rise to power as well.

“Surely, her court rank might be high. But, even as the king’s vessel, I can’t believe that she’s possessing that much strength.” (Bashim)

For now I will obey, but it’s not like I gave up on aiming for the top once I see a chance. Now that Agachion, who was the king, and his powerful subordinates Beleto and Phegor were eradicated, I will check if there’s a possibility for me to rise up.

“Let’s make use of this operation for that sake.” (Bashim)

While he was muttering his monologue, a single soldier on horse arrived from the encampment where the humans took up position.

“I’m a messenger from Vichy’s central committee. We are requesting an explanation why you have brought your soldiers in front of our country and why you have taken up camp here while facing our way.”

It was inevitable for Bashim to find the soldier, who frantically suppressed the trembling in his voice, funny.
Though it remains only in books, it’s said that the ones called humans are far weaker at magic and also physical strength than elves, not to speak of demons. Only their numbers are high, but mankind is split in settlements which are scrambling for soil and people by fighting against each other.
It’s a fact that there are demons who returned from the outside, albeit only few, but because Vepar is keeping their stories to herself, Bashim isn’t aware of it.
There’s no necessity to hide it, I guess, Bashim exposed a mocking gaze and had his favourite horse step forward.

“I’m the general. What’s your business?” (Bashim)

Due to Bashim’s attitude of “Since I didn’t hear it, say it one more time”, the young messenger ground his teeth.

“It’s just as I told you before. I’d like you to tell us for what reason you came here!”

Bashim snorts at the words loaded with anger and replies,

“Hmm. Isn’t such kind of attitude impolite? I have come to this kind of place as representative of the demon race. Shouldn’t you kneel and beg if you want to know?” (Bashim)

At last the messenger couldn’t stand the Bashim’s attitude which he expressed by not changing the haughtiness in his words.
The messenger was trembling in rage, but when he suddenly sees the soldiers lining up behind Bashim, he talked with obvious ridicule.

“… After all you are mere demi-humans, huh? It seems you don’t comprehend neither dignity nor the truth of the matter. There’s nothing to talk about. Just regret for having come here with a small military force.”

The messenger, who turned around, started to return to the humans’ encampment without even looking back.
When he advanced around a single metre, his body was pierced by a blade.

“… Ha?”

Seeing a sword penetrating his own chest, the messenger shook violently and fell off the horse unbeknownst whether he was able to understand anything.

“The ones called humans are this stupid? They turn their backs on their enemy without any vigilance while announcing their hostility.” (Bashim)

The soldiers who were nearby raised laughters at at the words of Bashim who looked over his shoulder after erasing the sword he created with magic.

“Well then, gentlemen, shall we teach the retarded humans the true way of battle?” (Bashim)

At the time when the demons raised a war cry, Vichy’s army was swept away by the unexpected situation of their messenger being killed.
And army of around 50 demons against Vichy’s forces of around 250.
The battle began with an attack by the minority.

☺☻☺

“Hello. There’s something I have to deliver, but…”

“Ah, thanks… huh? A demon-san?” (Reni)

The one who came visiting Reni’s place was Vepar’s subordinate, Nyarl.

“… How did you get inside?” (Reni)

“I came with everyone in front of the city and entrusted my weapons to the city’s soldier-san.” (Nyarl)

Due to Nyarl presenting a thin, folded, wooden board with a “here,” Helen got close while feeling uneasy about the defence measures of the city, and received it.
She hands it over to Reni just like that.

“Thank you. Please sit down, demon-san. Helen are there any sweets and tea left?” (Reni)

“There are, but hold back on eating them a bit, okay?” (Helen)

“Ah, please don’t mind me.” (Nyarl)

The vigilante corpse, which includes a part of the elves, and the demons are confronting each other at the city’s entrance, but for the time being it won’t develop into an uproar, it seems.
As for the demon who wanted to hand a letter to Reni; the vigilante corps apparently gave its permission as long as it’s only a single person.
Nyarl thanks for the tea, which was swiftly prepared by Helen, and tastes it. It appears that she doesn’t have any worry that it might be poisoned at all.
Helen was unable to judge whether she’s bold or a natural airhead.

“So, what’s written on it?” (Helen)

“They are requesting our cooperation in the fight against the humans, it says.” (Reni)

“Can I have you write a reply, too?” (Nyarl)

“Understood.” (Reni)

Reni lets the quill pen fluently run across a parchment. Her writing style shows no hesitation. She apparently decided on her reply while reading the letter.
Watching Reni fold the paper in an inefficient and unfamiliar manner, Helen kept Reni’s cup away so that it isn’t knocked over by Reni getting hooked on it.
Since there isn’t anything like a sealing wax, Reni hands over the letter which has been only folded tightly with her soft fingers.
Nyarl, who drank tea and stuffed her cheeks with fruits, that were cut into mouth size, without any reservations, wiped the fruit juice, which clung to her fingers, away at the cuff of her clothes and received the letter.

“Please hand this to the king of the demons.” (Reni)

“Yes, thank you very much. Thanks for the delicious meal as well.” (Nyarl)

“Thanks for your hard work~.” (Reni)

Reni waves at Nyarl who runs away with a *tetete* while holding the letter in her hand.

“… So, what did you answer?” (Helen)

Maybe next time since the circumstances are bad is what I wrote.” (Reni)

“It’s not an invitation to play by a child, thus…” (Helen)

“I haven’t told a lie.” (Reni)

Pulling the cup to herself again, she tastes the tea which has become lukewarm.

“Even if we were to fight somewhere, we won’t be able to put up any opposition since our numbers are lacking. Thus I think that it’s useless to try.” (Reni)

Although one might say that their numbers increased some with the elves joining, the scale is only at the level where it can be called a vigilante corps.
Restraining the forces of the human side, which are living in Swordland, by including traps is the best they can do. Even if they get dragged into battle with a foreign enemy, it would be equal to them being unable to do anything.

“To begin with, as long as Swordland is split among itself, we don’t have any spare energy to assist others.” (Reni)

“What will you do if the demons attack us after getting angry over this?” (Helen)

“I think it would be best to run away.” (Reni)

“Run away?” (Helen)

When Helen asks “What’s this about?”, Reni answered with “It’s simple.”

“The part of us not having the numbers to fight means that our side has few. We are also used to the wastelands and forest, right? Thus it will be fine if we hide after running away with everyone during the night.” (Reni)

Stretching out her hand towards the remaining fruit, Reni raises her voice in joy as the one left is her favourite fruit, Bodan.

“It’s not like there’s any particular need for us to protect this soil. I mean it’s fine for us to create a new city in the forest if we can protect it by ourselves. There isn’t any need for our friends to shed their blood for the sake of someone else, is there?” (Reni)

Although she does agree with Reni, it was surprising for Helen that Reni was able to part with this city, which she learned to love, easily.

“I believe it would be better if you talked with everyone about that. Even if you tell them to abandon the slums all of a sudden, I think that there will be people who can’t move right away.” (Helen)

“It’s as you say, Helen. Before the demon-san’s come once more… oh, I have to go to the vigilante corps and check whether the demon-san’s went home properly.” (Reni)

Reni heads to the city’s entrance.
After looking around in a circle inside the building, Helen let both her rabbit ears hang down.

“I wonder whether that means that we will have to abandon this city and this home…” (Helen)

For Helen, who got completely accustomed to living in the city, just imagining that caused painful feelings.

☺☻☺

Hifumi, who heard the state of affairs from Caim after returning to his territory, entered Vichy by himself immediately after spending just one day for repairing and supplementing his weapons.
It was decided that Origa would remain to assign the training regimen in both, military and literary arts, for Viine, and that Alyssa would lead Fokalore soldiers while waiting for his return.

“Leave them alone.” (Hifumi)

With that brief comment the request for reinforcements by Vichy was literally ignored. The messenger, who returned to the central committee while crying about being sent away, came back to Fokalore several days later because he defected while bringing his family along.
That’s how much Vichy’s central committee had been driven to the wall.

“Please be careful!”

“Aye. I leave the rest to you, okay?” (Hifumi)

Leaving Arosel, which is prospering equally to Fokalore, after being destroyed once, he enters Vichy through the new border city Lorn which has turned into a city of merchants who gathered for the purpose of the soldiers and the money those soldiers spend.
The state’s soldiers, who were assigned at that place, know Hifumi’s face as if it’s only natural and thus there’s no need for him to show his permit anymore.
Leaving his horse in the care of the border security’s unit, he leisurely departed Orsongrande. Even the soldiers on Vichy’s side, who saw that, gave him the necessary permission while cowering and avoiding eye contact.
Several people, who are camping out, sat at the border on Vichy’s side. Many of them are merchants, but sporadically people of the common populace can be seen there as well. They apparently intend to escape by crossing the national border.
When he was advancing leisurely through the area between Vichy and the wastelands just like that, three man jumped out in front of Hifumi.

“Soldiers of Vichy, huh?” (Hifumi)

Looking at the simply designed armour they are wearing, Hifumi muttered that while looking uninterested.

“What are you doing at this place? Fight against the demons or the soldiers of Pyursang.” (Hifumi)

Apparently the soldiers of Vichy don’t know about Hifumi. They coerced Hifumi with 「It ain’t the time to show such composure」 while surrounding him.

“Listen, hand over your money. Your food as well!”

Hifumi looked with cold eyes at the man who threatened him by bringing his face close.

“It’s that, eh? The thing that’s called deserter, right? Were you scared of the demons?” (Hifumi)

“You bastard!”

The hand which tried to grab his collar only grasps air, though he was right in front of the man.

“Huh?”

He seizes both knees of the man after lowering his body and stands up once again in that state.
The man, who fell down with his face up after having both his legs trapped, severely struck into the ground with the back of his head unable to take any defensive posture.
Hifumi’s toes sank into the nether region of the man who is groaning while holding his head.

“What are…!?”

Hifumi silently circles around to the back of the excited soldier who watches his colleague faint while foam gathers at his mouth.
By just lightly pulling his waist belt, the soldier falls on his backside with a thump.
Before he comprehends why he was sitting, his cervical vertebrae gets twisted and broke.

“Uwaaaah!”

The last one tries to run away but gets secured by having the nape of his neck grabbed by Hifumi’s left hand.

“You saw the demons before running away, right? Tell me the state of affairs.” (Hifumi)

Drawing his katana, he stabs the foaming man to death in front of the seized man.
The man, who saw his friend’s head getting stabbed without any kind of hesitation, is trembling to a degree that it even affects his teeth.

“I-In the first battle close to half of our side was killed! They should still be fighting at the border after getting reinforcements from the other cities, but with the story that not a single demon could be killed…”

“You got scared and ran away, huh? In which direction is the battlefield?” (Hifumi)

Where the trembling finger of the soldier pointed at was the direction where Hifumi had planned to go for now.

“For a change my intuition was right, wasn’t it?” (Hifumi)

Kicking the back of the soldier’s knee, Hifumi makes him kneel.

“H-Help…”

“You won’t tell me to not kill you, right?” (Hifumi)

Setting the angle of the blade so that it won’t hit bones, he stabs the soldier’s heart from behind.
Wiping the extracted katana, he slowly returns it into the scabbard and fixes his slightly disordered attire.

“The festival venue is over there? Though it would be best if it hasn’t ended yet.” (Hifumi)

Retrieving a bread with grilled fish sandwiched in from his darkness storage, Hifumi kept lazily walking towards the battlefield while enjoying the aroma of the slightly sweet sauce spreading inside his mouth.

 


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