The Copper Mine Marven was the pride of Holmea and the biggest copper mine in the West. This mine had originally belonged to the dwarves living in Holmea’s north. The dwarves made a living by mining the copper, processing it into high-quality copper, and exporting it to Holmea.
However, around ten years ago Holmea suddenly invaded the mine under the pretext of having been sold inferior copper by the dwarves. Of course this was no more than a ruse in order to obtain the mine itself.
Naturally the dwarves got angry at this, and took on the challenge after having prepared themselves to resist to the bitter end.
Back then Holmea had dispatched 8,000 soldiers to Marven. Opposing them were roughly 5,000 dwarves of the clan living in the mine. However, that figure also included children and the elderly. It was already a stretch to say that the dwarves had more than a thousand strong, young men capable of fighting.
The dwarves of Marven were considered to be easy opponents, but they mounted an unexpectedly strong resistance. They made Holmea’s army suffer thoroughly by repeatedly repelling the close to 10,000 Holmean soldiers with the sturdy strongholds they had constructed all around the mine.
However, that resistance didn’t last for long.
King Warius, who lost his temper over the dwarves’ resistance, urgently called back Marshal Darius who was fortifying the border against Romania. The situation at the mine completely changed due to the participation of Darius who was back then already hailed as Holmea’s best general. After he turned up, the Copper Mine Marven surrendered in less than a month, and the defeated dwarves were forced to toll away at the mine after being captured and enslaved altogether.
The mine town of Marven with such a historic background had no wall. That was a measure because Holmea used many dwarven slaves to mine and refine the copper. Even if those dwarves were to retake the mine after staging a revolt, it’d be easy to suppress them as long as the town had no wall. For this reason, the town’s interior was separated from the outside by nothing more than a short fence. Moreover, all the watchtowers positioned at various locations of the town were turned towards the mine, and not outside the town.
A soldier, who was on watch duty on one of those towers, discovered ‘that’ when he shifted his gaze outside the town by chance to stave off some of his unbearable boredom.
“…What…in Genobanda’s name?”
He could see something like a yellow cloud southwest from the town. Once he strained his eyes, he realized that it had to be a cloud of dust. Shifting his eyes to the bottom of that cloud, he spotted several shadows similar to black dots sprinting while kicking up the dirt.
Usually, this event was nothing warranting the soldier to be wary. However, since the soldiers didn’t even consider the option of them being attacked from outside the town, he carefreely gazed at the cloud of dust, having identified it as a great way to kill some time.
That soldier finally realized the gravity of the situation when he could clearly make out that it was several hundred zoan dashing across the ground while kicking up a cloud of dust.
“Z-Zoan!? Why are they here!?”
The lookout jumped at the horn hanging from the eave of the watchtower, and blew into it with all his might. The lowly, bassy honk echoed several times throughout the town, and gradually faded amidst the sounds of hammers pulverizing ore which was an ever-playing background music in this town.
In exchange, noise caused by the stationed soldiers of Holmea’s royal army started to become audible. The soldiers had noticed the abnormality of the situation at last, but not only were they almost completely unprepared for a zoan attack, but all their defense efforts were directed towards the mine and the copper refineries. After all, the range of abnormal situations as imagined by them only included accidents in the tunnels or the refineries, and a revolt by the enslaved dwarves. As a result of this, they instead prohibited people from approaching the fence surrounding the town.
The one suddenly intruding the town was the black-furred hero Fagul Galguz Garam, chief of the Fang Clan and Grand Chief of all zoan on the plains. Dashing like a black gale as he ran on all four, he jumped over the fence in one breath by capitalizing on his momentum, and mercilessly cut down a soldier, who had been present at his landing point, with his machete after drawing it in midair.
“Zurgu! I’m going to head over to the residential area! I leave the mine to you!”
The one answering Garam’s instructions with a “Sure thing!” was Kraga Bigana Zurgu, the chief of the Claw Clan who held the title of the strongest heroes on the plain together with Garam. That red-furred mount of muscles pointed with his big machete, which was already dyed with the blood of Holmean soldiers, in the direction of the mountain.
“Take over the whole place without giving them the slightest chance to get back on their feet! I shall not allow anyone to act like a fat rabbit!” And then he looked back over his shoulder, yelling, “Hey, get over here at once!”
His yell was directed at the dwarven warrior Dvalin who was riding a horse which had just now crossed the fallen fence. But, rather than him riding the horse, it might be more proper to call it him being given a ride by the horse.
There was absolutely no way that dwarves with their small legs would be able to keep up with zoan who were hailed as supreme rulers of the plains. Having said that, they weren’t able to ride horses with their short arms and legs either.
Accordingly, the dwarves had been tied with ropes to the backs of the horses like baggage as an emergency measure. It went without saying that the shaking of the galloping horse would be directly transmitted to them in such a state. Because of that, Dvalin’s face had become ghastly pale due to nausea, albeit it was hard to tell thanks to his dense beard growth.
“I know without you telling me!” Dvalin raised his voice, acting tough, and then called out to the other dwarves who had been delivered to the town in the same way. “You lot, speak up! ――Brethren! We’ve come to your rescue together with our beast friends! Come on, take up your hammers and rise to action together with us!”
The latter part of Dvalin’s shout was in dwarvish. Dvalin and his men followed Zurgu. still tied to their horses, while urging the dwarves enslaved at the mine to revolt.
Thanks to the sudden attack by zoan and dwarves, Holmea’s side wasn’t even able to stage anything you could call an orderly resistance. The zoan exhibited their leg strength to their heart’s content, gaining control of the town’s major points before Holmea’s soldiers managed to grasp the situation, and thus succeeding in splitting up the soldiers. Hence, the scattered soldiers had no choice but to hide out in buildings in small groups while shifting for themselves.
However, this gave the zoan a hard time instead. In an era where glass windows hadn’t spread, the interior of houses was dim as the builders didn’t give much thought to lighting and rather focused on keeping wind and rain out. If you stepped into such a place from the bright outside, you’d be engulfed by darkness until your eyes adjusted. The soldiers, who lay in wait in such places, attacked the visitors all at once. Even the veteran zoan warriors had their fair share of hardship dealing with this.
And yet, Zurgu alone happily marched into such buildings without a care.
“Yo! I’m comin’ in for a little visit!”
Zurgu, who had entered a house with a familiarity as if visiting the home of an old acquaintance, was greeted by a sword being swung from the right side, and a spear being thrust out from the front. In response, Zurgu first smashed the pommel of his machete into the face of the soldier on the right without even looking at him. With Zurgu’s absurd strength, this much was more than enough to pulverize the soldier’s nasal bones and turn it into a fatal blow as it even damaged the brain.
Next he casually extended his left hand, and used it to firmly grab the handle of the spear coming at him from the front. Then he relied on the large biceps of his thick arm to pull the soldier alongside his spear over, not even allowing a moment of resistance. And then he slammed a single, devastating blow with his machete down on the crown of the soldier’s helmet.
If he had made the slightest error in judgment, he’d been cut up by the sword and stabbed into the torso by the spear. Rather, the zoan warriors, who had followed Zurgu, were terrified by his hazardous fighting style.
Fearing that Zurgu would have the tables turned on him at some point, if he continued fighting like this, one of the warriors suggested to Zurgu, who was about to head to the next house, “《Mad Claw》, wouldn’t it be better to fall back a bit?”
The warrior had resolved himself for earning Zurgu’s wrath over stating something cowardly, but Zurgu simply replied, “What? I’m finally in a groove, so I won’t switch with you or anything.”
His tone was sulky like that of a child who feared to have its cherished toy taken away. The warrior couldn’t help but be taken aback. When he looked back after having his shoulder tapped, his eyes met a warrior of the Claw Clan lightly shaking his head as if telling him to give up.
Around the time when Zurgu had suppressed the four additional houses filled with soldiers in such a manner, war cries suddenly greeted them from the refineries and mine entrance Zurgu’s group had been heading for. Accompanying those were Holmean soldiers scuttling to escape. And on top of that, dwarves appeared, obviously chasing the soldiers.
“What, these places have already revolted? Even though it’d have been nice if they could have waited with it for a little while longer.” Zurgu murmured dejectedly while tapping his shoulder with the back of his machete’s blade.
The dwarves rushing out of the mine and refineries were the slaves who had risen in revolt, following Dvalin’s appeal. Wearing nothing but tattered rags of underpants, they beat the soldiers to death with hammers and pokers right in front of Zurgu’s group. The soldiers frantically fought back or begged for their lives, but the accumulated hatred of the dwarves was unstoppable. Being showered with a flurry of blows, not one soldier was left alive. Some of the dwarves whose fury hadn’t been sated with this even continued to hit the corpses.
After a while the tragedy finally came to an end, but the dwarves, who were deeply moved by having been liberated, didn’t even try to show their deep emotions by passionately hugging the zoan, their liberators. Rather, they surrounded Zurgu and the others with wary and doubtful looks, wondering what zoan were doing here.
At that point, Dvalin pushed his way through the warriors, and stepped out in front.
“My name is 《Steel》 Dvalin! Formerly a kin of the Obsidian Kingdom, and now Warrior Leader of my kin in Bolnis! We came to free you in accordance with the request we received! Is there anyone who knows a man called Knurl!?”
A stir started to run through the dwarves of the Marven Mine in response to Dvalin’s words. After a short time, an elderly dwarf with a big snub nose planted right in the middle of his face and an abundant, finely braided, reddish brown beard emerged from the group of dwarves while shouldering a pickax.
“I am 《Red Beard》 Norðri, the Warrior Leader of the Marven clan!”
Dvalin and Norðri stepped up to each other, touched each other’s beards first, and then hugged firmly.
“It took us quite a bit of time, but please forgive us.”
Norðri fervently shook his head upon Dvalin’s apology. “As if anyone would blame you for that! ――I believed that my son Knurl had failed and died in some ditch, but I guess he managed to accomplish his duty.”
Dvalin’s face looked as if he had bitten on something bitter when he heard Knurl’s name out of Norðri’s mouth.
“So he was your son…?”
But, Norðri lowered his head without noticing Dvalin’s muttering.
“I’m sorry to ask this of you right after you rescued us, but I’d like to borrow your strength. Our Queen is being kept prisoner in the residential area. We’d like to save her.”
The one responding to that request was Zurgu, “Ah, you don’t need to worry in that case. My brethren have already headed in that direction. Moreover, the one leading them is a remarkable warrior.”
And then Zurgu revealed a smile with a touch of mischief, “Well, he does slightly fall behind me when it comes to skill, though.”