“Are we really able to pull off something like that…?”
Garam, feeling slightly dumbfounded, asked Souma that..
“To be honest, I’m not sure either.”
Believing it pointless to be blatantly pretentious here, Souma speaks the truth.
“It might just be a castle in the sky. But, this is the only thing I could up with as a plan to confront an enemy with this much of a difference in combat strength.”
“For argument’s sake, what if that plan is seen through? No, what will happen if we are simply annihilated by the enemy’s main force?”
For an instant Souma is at a loss for words because of Garam pointing out these issues. However, he resolved himself and answered,
“It’s will be total annihilation.”
The sound of someone gulping down their spit resounded awfully clearly.
“Victory or annihilation, eh…?”
As Souma says, if the attacking zoan can’t crush the main force, they and then the remaining stronghold will be completely annihilated after it was surrounded. Garam couldn’t simply give an immediate reply due to the excessive dimension of losses if they were to fail.
In exchange for Garam, Zurgu laughs and says,
“Isn’t that interesting? It means that we will charge into the middle of an enemy that has more than several times our numbers, doesn’t it!?”
He said this with a ferocious smile, making the other zoan think of the times he lost his temper in irritation over the futureless fate of the zoan.
However, Zurgu is no fool. In that smile, Garam can perceive Zaram’s resolve and acknowledgement of the danger.
Next, Dvalin spoke up as well.
“Please decide quickly. I’d like to have some time for building the encampment.”
That was nothing else but a consent of the plan Souma suggested.
Even the others harbor similar feelings. Someone like Jahangil, who is delightfully hitting the floor with his tail, doesn’t have to even be mentioned here.
As if it’s no big issue, everyone’s already inclining towards getting on board with the plan.
Even Garam accepted his fate.
“… Very well, I will join you on this bet as well.”
Once that was decided, the further talks went quickly.
Each of them rushes out of the room one after the other to do what they have to do. Some leave to repair weapons, others go to procure the necessary materials and yet others head out to secure provisions.
Souma stops Garam and Banuke who were about to leave the room in the same way.
“Please stay behind, Garam and Banuka. There’s something I’d like to talk about with you.”
Wondering what it might be at this point in time, the two looked at each other.
“Us dwarves were living in mine tunnels where the sunlight doesn’t reach. There won’t be much discomfort as long as there’s moonlight. Rather than that, time is of value.”
Being told so, Souma had left the advance party to Dvalin’s dwarves, and he left the city himself with the zoan and dinosaurians on the day after.
If they had left the city at night all together, the city’s inhabitants would think that they ran away in fear of the punitive force. Firmly resisting the feeling of impatience at this point, Souma made only the dwarves go first and the others moved at next dawn.
“I don’t have any intention to change this city into a battlefield. We will leave the city.”
Souma said in front of the city’s influential people who were forcibly summoned early in the morning.
Even Souma thought that it was quite the condescending line to say that they don’t plan to turn the city into a battlefield after having attacked it by themselves, but he works hard at pretending to have an arrogant attitude. Of course the influential people don’t retort to that. All of them have honestly relieved expressions after recognizing that the city would be avoiding involvement in the battle.
However, their smiles freeze just like that due to Souma’s next words.
“But, we plan to return right away once we rout the punitive force.”
Souma smiled sweetly.
“At that time I’d like to form friendly ties with you, okay?”
In short, he gave them a warning of “We are departing from the city, but don’t do anything stupid during that time!” And, while still showing the same smile, Souma made a sign to Jahangil who waited behind him.
Thereupon, the group of dinosaurians led by Jahangil roar and gather at the gate. In a flash they bring down the gate’s door by hitting it with their weapons and fists.
Moreover, Jahangil gets carried away and breaks the fallen gate to pieces with his foot. He then began to throw the gate’s fragments around the vicinity.
As a matter of fact, they made the gate’s door easy to destroy in advance by loosening the metal fixtures and cutting it all over.
Doing that is a play intended to make the influential people realize that it’s pointless even if they seclude themselves behind the walls when they come back to the city. However, even Souma, who came up with the idea, ended up drawing away from Jahangil’s frolicking around.
But, with only that much, the effect of the threatening is extraordinary. As expected, all the influential people’s faces turn pale simultaneously due to Jahangil’s crazy attitude. There were even some among them who sat down, unable to keep standing out of fear.
Thinking that threatening them this much should be plenty enough, Souma intentionally left the city slowly in order to show their composure.
Once Souma and the others arrive at the scheduled spot for the encampment, Dvalin’s dwarves, who were already busy since last night, were in the process of carrying in the trees, which they felled deep in the forest, one after the other.
When they search for Dvalin, they find him next to the forest, sitting in a circle of dwarves that particularly excel at engineering works discussing the encampment.
Dvalin, who noticed the new arrivals before Souma even spoke up, left the circle by himself and walked over to Souma’s group.
“You finally got here, huh? What a happy-go-lucky bunch you are, even though we stayed up all night and continued working.”
Souma knew that it was a joke, but he bows his head once alongside a “Excuse me” and then asks,
“How’s the progress of the encampment?”
Dvalin scratched his head with a bitter expression.
“To put it bluntly, there’s not enough time left. At most we can dig up trenches, build an embankment on the inside and set up a paling. Afterwards we plan to flatten the ground inside the encampment.”
There are many depictions of tactical plans in the military history novels and manga, which Souma uses as reference for battle, but there’s not much description about the construction of an encampment. ‘Rather than interfering in a detrimental manner, I have no other option but to entrust everything to Dvalin here’, Souma thought.
“Dvalin, please handle it in what you think is the most appropriate manner.”
“Aye! Leave it to me!”
Dvalin hit his thick chest with a thunk. After that, he turns around behind and calls out to the dwarves who were waiting to see how things would play out over here.
“Go on and dig the trenches! Pile up the dug-up earth inside and use it for an embankment by hardening the ground through hitting with planks!”
The dwarves curtly answered with an “Aye!” and picked up spades and pickaxes.
Many of the dwarves in this world turn the caves and tunnels that they excavated themselves into their dwellings. Even Dvalin’s home country, the Obsidian Kingdom, is a nation built underground, with the foundation being tunnels of obsidian. It’s only natural that the dwarves, who are born underground, grow up with rocks as their company and play with the earth as if it was their toy. Because of this, they would possess excellent engineering techniques that the other races can’t possibly compare with.
In accordance with those rumors, Dvalin and the other dwarves fully demonstrated their famous dwarven engineering skills.
With one swing of their spade, a surprising amount of earth is dug up. That earth is then tossed towards the area they’re making an embankment at. However, the earth is distributed uniformly, as if they were measuring it, even though it appeared as if they were doing nothing but tossing some dirt over.
Souma and the others couldn’t do anything but watch with dumbfounded looks as the trenches are dug out, as if it’s an act of magic, by merely a little more than hundred dwarves.
“What is it, you guys? Aren’t you going to hurry up and help out!?”
Noticing Souma’s group standing around without doing anything, Dvalin shouted at them with a sullen expression. Everyone tried to help out in a panic, but none of them knows what they should do. After slightly shaking his head due to that situation as if say “Good grief”, Dvalin called out to a nearby dwarf.
“Hey! Look after these guys.”
Under the direction of that dwarf, who had braided his beard, the zoan and the dinosaurians also joined the work of digging out soil or removing dug-out rocks.
Even Souma was about to join in as well.
“You are a nuisance, so go over there!” He got immediately chased away by Dvalin.
However, that’s inevitable, too. When he used a spade to try and dig up the earth, the tip wouldn’t even cut the ground one bit. When he tried carrying the soil, it had a higher efficiency to pass the tools, which were used by the weak, modern Japanese Souma, to another person and make them use it.
Thereupon, Garam, who was unable to to just watch that, brought over two baskets that could be carried on one’s back.
“If it’s picking up stones, you are probably able to do that. Please go around with Shyemul and take care of that.”
At the same time as the encampment is being built, the preparations for the battle have to advance as well. Garam nods slightly at Souma while passing him a basket for the sake of picking up stones for throwing.
Due to that, Souma suddenly realizes something.
As a matter of fact, there was something Souma had to tell Shyemul, but he was wavering about the best method to broach the topic. Guessing Garam’s intention of trying to give him that opportunity, he says, “Thank you.”
“Alright! Let’s go, Soma.”
Shyemul, who carried the same basket as Souma, is in high spirits and heads towards the foot of the western mountains where rocks can be seen everywhere.
Souma followed her in a hurry, but he can’t readily grasp a chance to start talking due to Shyemul picking up stones agily as she hums a cheerful tune.
In the end Souma misses his chance to speak with her and the time for lunch arrives.
They sat down on one of the rocks protruding out at the mountain’s foot. Souma fretted over what to do even while eating the lunch that had been prepared by Shyemul. With this worry still in his head, he’s asked by Shyemul instead.
“Hey, Soma. There’s something I’d like you to teach me, but—.”
“!? Eh? About what?”
He panics while wondering whether Shyemul noticed that he’s hesitating over something he has to tell her.
But, what Shyemul asked was something else.
“It’s about your blessing.”
“Gotcha, my blessing huh…?”
Shyemul nods at Souma who secretly felt relieved all of a sudden.
“Yep. Just going off last night’s explanation, I don’t really get it. Is your blessing merely being unable to damage or break things?”
For Shyemul, who has to properly know about Souma’s blessing as she will support him from now on, this was a justified question. But Souma was at a loss for a reply.
“… Truthfully, even I don’t understand it well yet.”
Souma, who doesn’t know how to explain it best, thought that it would probably be better to actually show him doing it.
“Take a look.”
Putting aside the plate with a serving of half-eaten dried meat, he placed a big leaf on the ground. Afterwards, he swung the machete that he was given for self-defense in a grand motion, with a backhand grip, and stabbed the dried meat.
But, far from piercing through the dried meat, the machete’s tip doesn’t even cut the meat at all.
After showing that to Shyemul, he next picks up that dried meat, slices off a part of it with the machete and eats that.
Shyemul tilted her head in puzzlement due to Souma chewing the meat.
“I guess I don’t quite get it. Piercing is no good, but cutting is fine?”
After swallowing the masticated meat down, Souma replies,
“Even I don’t really understand it yet either, you know? It looks like simply trying to stab it is no good. But it feels like slicing it off for the sake of eating is fine, I suppose?”
“I have no idea how that’s any different.”
Souma smiles wryly due to Shyemul wrinkling her nose with a dissatisfied look.
“Look, cutting it up for consumption can’t be called 『damaging』 or 『destroying』, right? I think that’s probably the crux of the matter here.”
“That’s a very vague effect, isn’t it?”
Shyemul says so, as if fed up.
“Yeah, That’s why I feel like I will receive a great return if I consider trying to make convenient use of the fact that I can’t damage or destroy things.”
“I can’t consider the one called Aura as anything but thoroughly ill-natured.”
Souma also feels a strong sympathy with that opinion. No matter how you think about it, anyone will likely consider a blessing like this as nothing but harassment for Souma.
However, that was not all what Souma is sensing from that blessing.
“I feel something far more malicious from this blessing.”
Shyemul frowns due to those alarming words.
“Isn’t it just so that you can’t leave us?”
“I wonder, wouldn’t Aura have used a totally different kind of blessing if just that was her goal? At the time when I received this blessing, I had already decided to fight. After all, Aura had already shown me that it was impossible to run away this late in the game.”
Souma lowers his eyes on his own opened right palm.
“That’s why I wonder whether she has a completely different aim with this blessing.”
“… That makes sense.”
Shyemul swiftly throws a half-eaten dumpling into her mouth and swallows it down after chewing it several times. After that she said to Souma with as cheerful a tone as possible,
“However, isn’t that what you call 『Lamenting over the quality of a pelt you don’t own』?”
Worrying about the quality of a pelt you haven’t even hunted yet is pointless. Just like that, it’s pointless to fret over something that hasn’t even happened yet. That’s the meaning of the zoan proverb.
“That might be true… I guess…”
‘There are still only unclear things about the the goddess called Aura and the blessing I was bestowed. I think that I won’t reach an answer right now even if I ponder about this and that in regards to the blessing and Aura at this point.
He decided to stop thinking about this for now.
Although it’s not like he resolved it, it has lightened his heart a bit by putting a temporary stop to the problem of the blessing, which was one of his causes of worry, within his mind.
As if choosing that time, Shyemul said,
“So is there something you’d like to tell me, Soma?”
Souma’s body trembled slightly with a start.
Even though he was worried about it for awhile, unable to say anything by himself, Shyemul had noticed it a long time ago. Just now, she expressly gave him the opportunity to talk about it.
“… I guess I’m no match for you after all, Shyemul.”
Souma raises both hands and completely capitulates to Shyemul who worries and knows about him better than anyone else. Due to that Shyemul widened her nostrils as if to say that it’s only natural.
Souma puts on a serious expression and faces Shyemul directly from the front.
And then he said full of strong determination,
“Shyemul, I’d like you to join the ambush.”