Chapter 3 – Story 54: Overnight Fortress


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The commanding officer leading Holmea’s soldiers couldn’t make head or tail out of what he saw in front of his eyes.

“Why…Why is something like that here!?” He muttered in sheer amazement.

At the end of his line of sight stood a fortress. Towering at the height of two people as it was illuminated by the weak, rising morning sun was a log wall. Each of the log tips was tapered to a point, as if to exude a silent pressure telling them that it’d be no easy task to scale that wall.

And what could be seen stabbing into the sky beyond the log wall was a building built out of stacked stones that had been brought in from somewhere. Considering its parapet being equipped with saw-shaped crenels and tiny windows making it hard for arrows to enter from outside, this fortress had obviously been erected with battle in mind.

“Why…a fortress? Just when was something like that built here? How did they build this…?” The commander asked no one in particular.

The company commander, who had been stationed at the guard station in front of them until yesterday, answered while likewise dumbstruck, “Yesterday――Until yesterday nothing like that was anywhere around here.”

In response to that, the fort’s commander loudly vented his anger at the company commander, “So are you telling me they built such a fortress overnight!? Or do you want to claim that the fortress grew legs and ran over from who-knows-where!?”

It was only natural for the commanding officer to be confused. No matter how outstanding in engineering works dwarves might be, they were no magicians. It was impossible for them to erect a fortress out of stones over the span of a single night.

Seeing how their leader was already in such a state, his soldiers were caught in even more confusion. Although they had heard that they were supposed to scatter the zoan roaming the vicinity and burn down the bridge, they were now facing a mighty fortress. Assaulting such a fortified structure with nothing but lightly-equipped cavalry and infantry went beyond ridiculous. And if they were to try nonetheless, it’d end in their annihilation.

Above all, the reality of such a sturdy fortress having suddenly manifested in a place where nothing like that existed just yesterday delivered a terrifying shock.

This was still an era where people believed in the existence of gods and their powers. As such the soldiers trembled in fear, dreading that some terrifying power going beyond all human understanding might have been at work here.

At that point, the drumming of the zoan could be heard from the bridge point. Accompanying that, the Holmean soldiers witnessed the zoan at the bridge point starting to move.

At this rate, we won’t be able to put up anything you could call a fight, judged their commander, and quickly made his decision.

“Retreat! We’re going to retreat to the fort!”

No sooner than saying that, he pulled the neck of his own horse around, and returned to Fort Garaf. His soldiers followed their officer with something akin to relief written on their face, running away.

Meanwhile Zurgu clapped his hands together and guffawed while watching the Holmean soldiers scurrying away.

“Oohh! Look, Garam. Those guys got all flustered and ran away.”

Seeing his friend and rival convulsing with laughter as he couldn’t restrain his joy, Garam answered while finding it impossible to suppress a smile showing on his lips, “If you consider that a fortress made out of stone appeared in a place where nothing like that existed until yesterday, it’s only logical for them to choose that action.”

“No kidding. But I wonder what kind of expression they’d pull if they knew the true state of this fortress…”

Zurgu laughed out loud once more, and even Garam couldn’t help but allow his shoulders to tremble lightly.

“Bloody hell, you folk sure are carefree,” Dvalin muttered at the two great zoan warriors who laughed at the shameful flight of Holmea’s soldiers. “On top of making us work all night long, there’s still a bunch of work left, and yet…”

“Sorry about that. ――But, please bring up your complaints with Soma.”

After all, it’d been Souma who had devised the entire plan. Hearing Garam say so, Dvalin’s face screwed up into a sullen frown.

“I’ve already given up on telling Sir Soma anything. ――You lot, the materials are going to keep arriving here! Hurry up and get back to work!”

The latter part of Dvalin’s statement was directed at his brethren inside the fortress. Just in case, the dwarves had gotten ready to intercept the enemy, but hearing Dvalin’s instruction, they resumed their work.

A short while later, one could hear the clanging of hammers all over the fortress.




“You damn coward!” King Warius thundered in the royal palace of Holmea. “Not only did you allow the bridge to be taken, but you even ran away when you went back to try burning it down!? What a gutless dead weight you are! What a waste of air! And yet you piece of shit dare to call yourself a proud soldier of Holmea!?”

The one prostrating in front of the king, who was raging on his throne while sending his spit flying, was the company commander who had arrived at the palace in person after driving his horse hard from Fort Garaf.

While groveling like a worm and weathering through the king’s anger, the officer rectified their actions, “But, Your Majesty, the bridgepoint’s defenses were iron-clad and the soldiers were so shaken that they were in no state to fight. Even if we had launched an attack, it would have very likely led to our annihilation, not to mention that it would not have allowed us to burn down the bridge――”

“With a mere 300 zoan as your opponents!? Or are you also going to claim that you were facing 10,000 enemies!?” King Warius roared without even waiting for the officer to finish his explanation.

At this point, the king was already so angry that it wouldn’t be strange for him to order the beheading of the officer, and yet, the man frantically tried to justify things.

“I regard myself as a proud Holmean soldier as well. Even if I might face 10,000 enemies, I would not fear them. But, when confronted with such abnormal situation which you could even describe as the deed of a monster…”

“The deed of a monster!? Abnormal situation!? What are you yapping about!?”

The officer yelped when hit by King Warius’s angry roar. Afterwards, he mumbled something under his breath. But, that rubbed the king the wrong way.

“Speak up and be clear about it! Or do you want me to have you killed on the spot!?”

The officer was still half in doubt despite having seen the fortress with his own two eyes, but now that it had come to this, he had no choice but divulge everything.

“It was a fortress!”

Having turned desperate, the officer raised his voice loud enough to make it echo through the audience hall.

“The rebellious slaves built a sturdy stone fortress in front of the bridge over the course of a single night!”

King Warius blinked his eyes at that, unable to say anything, but scorn immediately revealed itself on his face.

The officer guessed that he might have made a mistake in his judgment and continued in panic, “It was no hallucination or mistake either, Your Majesty! Not only I, but my men also witnessed it. A mighty stone fortress, which hadn’t existed until yesterday, towered in front of the bridgepoint while illuminated by the morning sun!”

Since he’s insisting on its existence so frantically, it doesn’t seem to be a lie, assessed King Warius, calmed his anger, and flopped back on his throne.

Afterwards, he surveyed the faces of his retainers and lords lined up in the audience hall.

“All of a sudden it has turned into an unbelievable fairy-tale, but what do all of you think?”

For a while the lords and retainers whispered amongst each other, but they had never heard any stories about stone fortresses being built overnight. Moreover, if asked whether they’d be able to pull it off, all of them would have no choice but to admit that it was impossible for them. As such, all of them merely tilted their heads in confusion.

Among them, a single retainer said, “With all due respect,” while stepping forward, “you might already be aware of it, Your Majesty, but I heard that the bandit called 『Divine Son of Destruction』, who leads those treacherous slaves, has been chosen as a divine child by a goddess, though I cannot tell whether that story is true or not. But if it is, would he not have received some sort of power from his goddess?”

King Warius placed a hand on his chin and brooded about his retainer’s remark.

“Hmm, are you saying that the fortress has been built in a single night because of that power?”

“I think we cannot exclude that possibility. Or maybe it is a power allowing him to show such a kind of illusion.”

Certainly, if it’s true that they built a fortress in one night, the idea that it was based on the power of some kind of divine blessing stands to reason.

Thereupon, a retainer, whose appearance made it obvious that he was a member of the army, spoke up.

“Your Majesty, if that proves to be true, we must consider this as a grave situation. If the rebellious slaves keep invading us while building one fortress after the other, it will throw our strategies into chaos.”

“Indeed, it is as you say.” King Warius stood up from his throne, and announced to everyone present in the hall, “Dispatch scouts at once. The enemy is a divine child with terrifying powers. So make sure to not act carelessly, no matter what.”

The retainers and lords all answered with “At your will.”

But, at this time they didn’t know that this would lead to King Warius stomping his feet in anger and shouting with a bright red face, “We were tricked!”, several days later――




Around the time when everyone was holding a serious discussion about the terrifying blessing of the 「Divine Son of Destruction」 in Holmea’s palace, the main force led by Souma finally arrived at the bridgepoint of the Conte.

After expressing his thanks to Garam, Zurgu, and Dvalin for their efforts, Souma asked, “It looks like the plan went smoothly. Did we suffer any casualties?”

While looking up to Souma sitting on his horse which Shyemul held by the bridle, Garam answered, “No. Holmea also came back just once right after we took this place.”

“And even then they immediately panicked and ran away. I’d have loved you to have seen them scurrying away like baby spiders, Sir Soma.” Zurgu laughed heartily, obviously recalling the scene from back then, while standing next to Garam.

In contrast to him, Dwalin looked rather sour.

“You sure took your time to get here after working us to the bone.”

Even at this moment, the part of the dwarves who had arrived ahead of the main force, was tolling away. It was only reasonable that Dvalin and his men felt like venting some steam.

It was Shyemul who replied in Souma’s stead who was looking troubled because of that criticism.

“If you want to complain, bring it up with that dumb lizard. Be my guest and scold him. We were delayed because of him.”

Speaking of a person she’d describe as a dumb lizard, only Jahangil would come to mind. And now that she mentioned it, it was odd to not see Jahangil anywhere despite him having been assigned as Souma’s bodyguard.

Seeing Zurgu, Garam, and Dvalin looking around to find the lizard in question, the corners of Shyemul’s mouth sank as she further added, “If you’re searching for him, he’s out on inspection, nosing around all over the place. Even on the way here, he did the same all the time, getting in everyone’s way.”

Garam and the other two understood from that, guessing that Jahangil had become too enthusiastic after being assigned as Dragon General and Army Inspector which then resulted in the march taking much more time than anticipated because Jahangil had countless times made his rounds to inspect things without caring about them being on the move.

And that guess of theirs was mostly spot on. Even right now, he was lumbering around together with Niyusharl, his second son, and Palsharl, his third son, while clamoring about him not allowing anyone to break military regulations on his watch.

Souma was worried that Jahangil’s slightly ― or rather considerably ― excessive eagerness might cause everyone to falter away instead. But, reconsidering that it might not be bad to enforce discipline at the beginning, he let him continue. Besides, he hoped that his two sons would restrain their father when he was about to go too far with his enforcements.

Leaving aside Jahangil, Souma asked the dwarven vice-general Norðri to construct an encampment and headed to the fortress together with Garam and the others. This stronghold would become a cornerstone in the upcoming battle against Holmea. As such, he wanted to check it out with his own two eyes.

“Whoaaa, it really looks like a splendid fortress,” Souma cried out in admiration while in front of the new structure.

In response, Dvalin harrumphed through his nose as if it was only natural. However, as might be expected of Dvalin’s reaction, the fortress itself appeared to be sturdy and hard to attack, even if being rather small.

However, once they stepped inside the compound, the scenery changed completely.

The log wall, which had appeared so difficult to scale, was just for show with all its logs being hollow, if looking at them from the inside. Moreover, far from having been rammed into the ground, the logs’ bottom parts were lightly surrounded by piles of earth, them only being able to stand upright thanks to the poles propping them up from inside the fortress’ grounds. Not only would a little nudge with a plain ram be enough to tear the whole construction apart, but it looked like even a slightly stronger gust of wind would be quite capable of felling that log wall.

Moreover, the fortress, which seemed to be made out of stone, was in an even more dire state. The fortress’s wall, which looked like it’d been built by stacking up quarried stones, actually consisted of thin, wooden boards that had sand pasted onto them. From a distance, those boards appeared just like sandstone. Furthermore, when it came to the parts not visible from outside as they were hidden by the log wall, the building was nothing but a bare, wooden framework which didn’t even possess any walls yet. Currently, several dwarves stood inside that framework, tackling the lumber with their hammers.

“Good grief, creating just the components of a fake fortress in advance, having those transported in one go by using the river, and assembling them over here; you do come up with some funny ideas,” Dvalin sighed, his voice filled half with admiration and half with resignation.

But, just as he said, this fake fortress saw all its materials procured and processed on-site ― upstream in the mountains ― before being transported on rafts and being assembled over here ― so, if you were to describe the whole process in modern terms, you could say it was built with a prefab-construction method.

This was the whole trick behind the magic to have manifested a stone fortress within a single night. Of course, it was a plan thought up by Souma based on a famous historical feat attributed to Toyotomi Hideyoshi who was still called Kinoshita Toukichirou at that time.

Souma proudly puffed up, answering, “This is my Overnight Castle of Sunomata.”

This area being referred to as Sunomuta in later years stemmed from Souma’s words at this time.




Souma had magnificently led Holmea around by the nose. But, he was an ordinary man and no god. Naturally there existed limits to his abilities, and not only was the knowledge he had brought with him from modern Japan anything but omnipotent, it was also impossible for him to know everything about this world.

And thus, something had started to squirm within the darkness of the West of which Souma had no knowledge.

On the opposite shore of Holmea, divided by the Labian, stood the western expedition army led by Romania’s King Doldea at the border of Romania. That army was considered to have long dissolved due to the crushing defeat at the Labian’s crossing point, but on a closer look, one would be able to see lines of wagons still carrying provisions into the encampment, accompanied by the arrivals of soldiers who appeared to be reinforcements.

Bitter feelings engulfed the heart of Marshal Daraios as he inspected the encampment of Romania’s army under these strange circumstances.

An army was a beast with an insatiable, bottomless stomach. Just maintaining the troops like this expended a tremendous amount of funds and provisions. Seeing how they had suffered such a heavy loss, Daraios felt like dissolving the western expedition army, and if not that, at least returning the conscripts to their villages to lessen the burden as much as possible.

However, on top of ordering to bring in more provisions, King Doldea had appealed to all landed nobility to send further reinforcements. Because of this, Daraios had begun to suspect that the king might have gone crazy after the defeat, and even while being aware that it was lese majeste, he had proposed to break up the expedition force.

But, far from having gone mad, King Doldea had told Daraios to believe in him, looking awfully cheerful instead.

If he as retainer was told so by his lord, he had no choice but to trust. He could only swallow all his doubts and obey.

All of it started after that man showed up.

Just when Daraios remembered the face of that man while feeling irritation welling up within him, the man in question showed up in front of him.

“Yo, Lord Marshal.”

The one calling out to Daraios while lightly lifting a hand as if dealing with a buddy was a delicate man with white skin that made him appear sick rather than fair-skinned. His attire didn’t look gaudy, but it still was something of refined taste, using a high-class fabric and elaborate embroidery. Yet, you could say he stood out like a sore thumb in a camp filled with armored soldiers.

Daraios stifled the displeasure in his heart and bowed at the man who was enveloped by this aura of decadence.

“It will only cause troubles if you walk around our camp as you please, King Cesar.”

“Oh, forgive me.” The young king of Buljeboa, Cesar Buljeboa, apologized while lifting the corners of his mouth into a broad grin. “However, I was planning to deliver good news to King Doldea, so please go easy on me.”

For some reason, Daraios, who ought to be a brave, veteran warrior, felt a chill travel down his spine when he saw the young king’s smile.

In a place unbeknown to Souma, the Worst Poisonous Snake of the West had crept its way up to the feet of the old, wounded wolf.



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