“Shyemul, I’d like you to join the ambush.”
Upon those words, Shyemul frowned with an unhappy face.
“It’s the decision of the Great Clan Chief, 《Ferocious Fang》, whether one will join the ambush or not.”
“I have already received Garam’s consent.”
Souma stated this coldly while suppressing his emotions.
It was for the sake of discussing this matter that Souma held Garam and Banuka back after the preparatory meeting last night.
After distracting Shyemul away from them with some excuse, Souma told the two following,
“I’m planning to place Shyemul and you, Banuka, with the ambush unit.”
So far Soma never meddled with the formation of the warriors. So why now, of all times? Garam slightly widened his eyes.
“…Can I ask for the reason?”
Garam had a need to know Souma’s intention with that proposal. That’s because the God of Beast’s divine daughter Shyemul has quite the strong influence on the zoan with her attitude and treatment of others.
Souma answers after giving a small nod to Garam,
“This time’s battle is really sink or swim. No, to put it honestly, I think that we don’t have much of a chance for winning. The enemy needs to move as I predict, and moreover it relies on the opponent’s carelessness and overestimation of their own abilities. Adding all of this up, we will still need an absurd amount of good luck for us to grab victory in the end. That’s the kind of battle it is.”
And, after faltering to continue for a little moment, he said following,
“That’s why I also want to consider the case of our defeat ahead of time.”
“I know that this is a reasonable measurement, but I don’t understand how that connects to the reason for having Shyemul and Banuka join the ambush troops.” Once Garam questioned that directly, Souma answered,
“After all, the safest place is the ambush unit.”
Upon this comment, Garam furrows his eyebrows whereas Banuka shows a surprised expression.
“If we lose this upcoming battle, isn’t there no other option but to rely on the power of the Mane Clan in the battle against Holmea for the plains?”
When pointed out by Souma, Banuka hung his head obviously feeling ashamed.
In case they lost this battle, only the Mane Clan would have enough strength left to defend the plains.
However, that’s only because the Mane Clan has saved some of its power by preserving their warriors, unlike the Fang Clan and the Claw Clan, which were recruited up to their clan chief.
Up to now, Banuka has actually sent multiple messengers to his father Manuyn Gujatara Baraque, the clan chief of the Mane Clan, in order to request reinforcements. But far from sending some warriors as reinforcements, not even a reply has been delivered. It’s likely those elders are continuing with their ridiculous discussions even now.
When he lived in the village, he thought of his father’s cautious attitude as something thoughtful. Now that he was in the frontline of battle, he couldn’t regard it as anything but indecisive, similar to the other clans’ opinion.
After laying a hand on Banuka’s shoulder in order to console him, Garam says,
“I see. So that’s why Banuka has to be left behind?”
A person who has seen the strength of Holmea personally with their own eyes is necessary to tell the warriors of the Mane Clan about Holmea’s threat. The only one capable of doing that is the son of the Mane Clan’s chief, Banuka.
“Yes. Banuka, I will now tell you the plan I was able to come up with to the best of my abilities. It might be a stopgap measure, but I believe it will allow you to protect the plains from Holmea for a short while.”
“And leaving Shyemul behind is for the sake of having her act as flagbearer?”
Souma nods strongly due to Garam’s question.
“The divine daughter Shyemul must be present for the sake of unifying the other clans.”
For example, even if a clan’s power is high, it’s very unlikely that other clans will obey them just because of that. For the sake of unifying all clans, the existence of the divine child, who will become the flagbearer, will be essential no matter what.
Garam, who shut his eyes and folded his arms as if carefully scrutinizing Souma’s words, leaked a long sigh a short time later.
“Soma, one more last thing, okay?”
“What might that be?”
“You said that you will tell the entire plan to Banuka, right? — What do you plan to do then?”
Being asked with a sharp glint as if to say that lies or deception won’t be forgiven, Souma is at a loss for words for a moment. However, he showed a faint smile that looks as if it would break into pieces right away if it were to be touched, and answered,
“Of course, I will stay in the encampment.”
Having drawn up such a high-stakes plan, there wouldn’t be any excuse for him to move to a safe place. Putting himself in danger is also owed a bit to his small pride of serving as the moral support for everyone during their fight against Holmea’s army.
Due to that, Garam suddenly shows a smile.
“… Even though you seem to be smart, I guess you are an idiot.”
Souma only returned a wry smile.
That’s what happened last night.
Once Souma finished briefly talking about it, he waited for Shyemul’s reply while quietly staring into Shyemul’s eyes.
“… Once again, you didn’t tell me anything and do as you please. I have to hit you again.”
“Even so it’s something I have to do, so…”
Even Shyemul probably understands that it has to be done this way. However, the problem is whether she can accept it emotionally.
In order to deliberately push aside Shyemul’s feelings, Souma wields the privilege of a 「Navel Master」 he didn’t consider using even once so far.
“As your 「Navel Master」, I order you—”
“Don’t say it!”
Shyemul interrupted Souma’s words with a piercing shout.
The two lock eyes with each other as if glaring at one another.
The howling northern wind blew in between them.
The one who averted her eyes first after a short time is Shyemul.
“… It will be fine as long as I join the ambush unit, right?”
Shyemul said with a blunt tone.
After that, there were no further words between the two.
They finished eating the rest of their lunch in silence, but at this point in time neither of them has any motivation to continue picking up stones. Their feet naturally carried them towards the others who are likely building the encampment.
Once the two returned, the place had completely changed within the few hours they were gone.
The place, which was a mere mountain’s base until this morning, had an encampment that was surrounded by a moat and a paling.
With Souma standing at the base of the moat, the height of the embankment reaches up to his shoulders. A paling, which was joined together horizontally and vertically by trees that still had their bark, had been erected on top of the embankment which was created by piling up the dug-out soil. In addition, the inside of the paling had been freed of hindering rocks and stumps, and then evened afterwards. Moreover, since the ground was firmly hardened through the use of rocks, it allowed swift movement within the encampment.
Due to the sight of the encampment, Souma feels as if he’s seeing the sports ground of a school surrounded by a fence.
While many dwarves, zoan and dinosaurians are still working busily, Garam, Zurgu and Dvalin could be seen gesticulating and discussing something.
“How’s the condition?”
“No problem. I tried spinning it, but since the foothold is properly firm, it’s easy to drive it to a surprising degree. If I had to mention a downside, then it would be that it feels a bit small.”
Once Garam gives that answer to Dvalin’s question, even Zurgu, who’s next to Garam, demonstrates his agreement by nodding.
“You’re just going to have to deal with it. It’s not like I can expand the thing any further”
Dvalin frowned and displayed a troubled expression, but once he discovers Souma on the other side of the paling, a boastful smile appears below his beard and he beckons Souma to come inside.
Having entered the encampment after walking around the paling, Souma asks Dvalin as very first,
“Did you complete it?”
“Aye. Somehow I made it in time.”
Souma breathed a sigh of relief due to Dvalin’s answer. After viewing the state of the encampment in a circle,
“At any rate, I’m astonished. To build such a splendid encampment in such a short time. Honestly, I didn’t expect it to reach up to this level.”
In contrast to Souma, who praises it without holding back, Dvalin scowls discontendly.
“Just how is this splendid!? If the folks back home knew that I built such a skimpy encampment, I’d be a laughing stock for my whole life!”
In Souma’s eyes it looks like a decently solid encampment, but Dvalin wasn’t satisfied with it. Did those thoughts appear on Souma’s face? Dvalin explains the dissatisfying aspects of the encampment.
“The number and depth of the trenches, and the height of the embankment are lacking. If I had time, I would have also built watchtowers. Besides, not only would I have piled up soil for the embankment, I would also have installed 『Antlers』. I would have even prepared 『Lilies』. Also…”
The Antler mentioned by Dvalin is a defense weapon that is stabbed into embankments. You use trees with many branches as the material after you remove the leaves, peel off the bark, and sharpen the tips of the branches. It obstructs enemies from climbing over the embankment by piercing their bodies with the sharpened branches.
Also, Lily is likewise a defense weapon. It has a shape where a single sharpened stake is standing after being baked in the centre of a pit that is dug out in the form of a mortar. This name has been given to it since it resembles a Lily.
In addition to these, there are also things such as Cow’s Herding Pole and Tombstone. Although Souma doesn’t entirely understand what kind of things they are, those are words which make him roughly imagine them as worthless traps and weapons. Due to Dvalin firing those words out of his mouth one after the other, Souma interrupted him in a hurry.
Dvalin looked as if he had still a lot more to say yet.
If I had requested Dvalin to construct an encampment from the start, would he have built a sturdy encampment that could even repel one million enemies? Souma is shocked.
However, right now we don’t have flexibility in time either. It will also be troublesome if the the enemy ends up hesitating to approach due to the encampment being built too sturdily.
At this moment Garam interjected.
“According to the scouts we dispatched, we will soon be able to see the punitive force. We have to send out the ambush unit before they arrive.”
That was an implicit confirmation on whether Souma had told Shyemul that she will join the ambush.
“Got it. — I rely on you.”
The second half of Souma’s statement was pointed at Shyemul who was behind him. However, Shyemul doesn’t confirm or deny it as she faces away.
Garam sighed deeply due to Souma smiling bitterly while being troubled. And, calling out to a nearby warrior, Garam has him bring something over.
Garam took it into his hands and casually tossed it towards Shyemul.
“Banuka has already finished his preparations and is waiting. If you are leaving, then take this and head out quickly.”
What Shyemul embraced at her chest right away is merely firewood that was tied up with a rope.
While holding the small bundle of firewood close to her chest, Shyemul glared with a reproachful look at Garam, but Garam receives it calmly and doesn’t even look at her.
After a short time, Shyemul turned on her heels with a small snort and ran away while holding the bundle of firewood.
A voice is about to leak out from Souma’s mouth towards Shyemul’s retreating figure.
“Leave her alone. She’s just sulking.”
Garam said this over his shoulder, but in the end Shyemul left the encampment with Banuka’s group without saying anything to Souma.
Souma, who saw off Shyemul and the others from within the encampment, feels his body tremble due to the blowing northern wind.
Even he himself thinks that he’s effeminate, but without Shyemul being at his side like usual, the wind felt somewhat extremely cold.
“Hey, Soma! Look at that!”
Garam calls out to Souma who kept staring in the direction that Shyemul and the others had left for, even after they were no longer visible.
Once he looks in the direction where Garam points to, he could see something similar to an ocher mist beyond the distant horizon. And, within that, there’s something like some black shadow wriggling.
Straining his eyes while wondering what it might be, Souma is surprised.
What looked like a mist was a cloud of dust.
And, the shadow wriggling within that are armed soldiers marching in ranks.
“So the enemy has come…”
At last, Souma catches sight of the punitive force led by General Darius.