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Chapter 10 – Those Who Stand In The Way
I was slightly awakened by the sensation that made me having trouble sleeping. It seemed that I was being carried somewhere. I felt like I was being rolled onto the back of a carriage as I felt the wooden planks and the shaking as I moved. There were burlap sacks around me, and it smelled like sweat and sebum. I didn’t think much of it and soon lost consciousness again. At that moment, I pulled out the pistol from storage. Maybe.
“I’m sorry, sir!”
When I woke up, I found myself in a dimly lit cave, with the dwarf girl kneeling in front of me.
They’re doing dogeza* in this world, too, huh?
[T/n: Kneeling down on the ground.]
“…Eh? Oh, and where are we?”
“It’s a cave that seems to have been a bear’s den in the forest near the royal capital. I have put up a simple ward to keep the surrounding monsters and predators away. It won’t work against strong monsters or humans, but I was thinking of waiting for nightfall to move on.”
“Yes. Thank you very much for your help. I’m Takefu Yoshiaki. And you are?”
“My name is Myrril. Are you, by any chance, a nobleman, Takefu Yoshua-sama?”
“You don’t need to be so polite. No, I’m a commoner… or rather, I’m from a country where there are no nobles. By the way, Yoshiaki is my name.”
“You can call me Yoshua. So, what were you so afraid of?”
Myrril held out a linen cloth. There was an M1911 copy pistol on top of it, and it was in pieces. She must have disassembled it out of curiosity, but she could not reassemble it. Well, that’s okay because I have an assault rifle anyway. I was relieved that she didn’t fire it off for fun.
“Yeah, give me that.”
During normal disassembly, the barrel is polished by shoving in a stick wrapped with a piece of cloth. I think I’ve read that a warhead without a copper coating leaves lead in the barrel. I also check that all the moving parts are in good condition and that nothing is broken. I don’t think she’d notice at first that she had to pull out the slide stop with the magazine removed, but I’m amazed she managed to disassemble it this far.
The cleaning kit was included in the magazine ammunition I received with the AKM. Simon, he might be the clever type.
Disassembling and reassembling a gun is a basic skill for a military otaku gun enthusiast, something I’ve done hundreds of times with model guns. Myrril looked at me with a look of admiration as I quickly reassembled it. She looks younger than me, but her age seems to exceed her size.
“How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Even though I look like this, I’m seventeen.”
She stretches her small chest out with a sniff, but it’s like she actually made an onomatopoeic sound. I decided not to get into that too much and thought about the age gap between us.
“…Half my age, huh?”
Myrril’s eyes widen when she hears my unintentional mumbling.
“Why are you surprised? I’m 34; they say people in my country look younger, though.”
“Sure, your face looks young, but… I thought you might be much older than that, given your mature eyes.”
Oh, I see. I think I’ve got a tired face and eyes like a dead fish.
From there, the conversation continued for a while.
It seems that Myrril is a skilled blacksmith at a young age, even among the dwarves who have many skilled blacksmiths. A nobleman wanted to take her out of the workshop, but she didn’t like his attitude, and when she refused, he harassed her and almost killed her.
“…Hmm? Why is that? He wants to get his hands on a talented craftsman, right? If he kills you, that would be the end.”
“I… I made a weapon, but it’s not just any weapon. The nobleman said that it could change the war.”
“Oh… I see. He’d rather erase it than let it fall into someone else’s hands.”
“Umu. Because it was a duke’s house, I have become a most wanted person in the kingdom.”
I feel sorry for her. I would like to help her. However, the king and his hero’s party are also looking for me, so it can’t be helped.
“So, what kind of a thing is that?”
“It’s a mechanical bow that shoots iron arrows. I want to show it to Yoshua, but the original one has been taken away.”
That is… a crossbow, I think. Or maybe it’s some kind of larger siege weapon. Either way, that’s probably true. It requires no skill or experience to use, has a consistent range and accuracy, and above all, it can penetrate armor. Rather than changing the war, it uproots the advantage of the nobility. If the numbers were right, they could overwhelm any regular army or cavalry.
Of course, it won’t be that easy if you actually do it. It’s not a simple matter of having it at hand for comfort. In the past, it was like a weapon of mass destruction, and one would think that it should be concealed and destroyed at the earliest opportunity.
“What’s the matter?”
“I thought it would be hard. Maybe they were really going to kill Myrril.”
“Ueeeehh? Why? I’ve been a good girl!”
I don’t think a normal 17 year old would develop a convenient annihilation weapon. What’s more disturbing is her first-person pronoun. It looks like she was trying to hide it earlier, but her excitement brought her back to her usual way of speaking.
“Myrril, are you some kind of nobleman or something?”
I think she was trying to tell me how I knew that, but I don’t think there are any commoners using “Warawa” for their first-person pronouns. Then Myrril shrugged her shoulders sadly at my silence.
“I’m a descendant of a ruined country. I don’t want to be reminded of my status.”
“Do you have any acquaintances in the workshop or anything you don’t want to leave behind?”
“I don’t have any. My mechanical bow was taken from me, and the workers are the same scum who sold me. They despised me in their hearts.”
“Even though you’re skilled?”
“That’s the reason, you know? You can see that happens when someone is younger than you and better than you.”
I can understand that. That was the end of the story.
“Yoshua wants to leave the kingdom, doesn’t he? That would be perfect for me. But then there is the problem of the means of transport. It would take seven days by foot on the road, and if we go in hiding, it will take three times that.”
I don’t know how far seven days on foot is – is it about 300 kilometers? If the roads are poorly maintained, it could be more. We indeed need to secure a means of transportation. It’s not possible to travel long distances by repeating the teleportation, considering the magic consumption.
“…Yes, you’re right. Just wait here for a moment.”
Leaving Myrril in the cave, I moved to the edge of the forest. After making sure that there were no people or monsters around, I called up the Black Market.
“Oh, brother. I haven’t received the results of the appraisal yet.”
“No, it’s about something else. I need a vehicle for transportation. Something that can carry two people, but not too conspicuous…”
On second thought, that’s impossible. The only vehicles that are inconspicuous in this world are probably wagons or carriages. I don’t need to use the back part because I can carry stuff in the storage. I don’t want to use a living creature for escaping either because it would be too expensive to maintain, and I wouldn’t be able to store it in case of an emergency.
“Inconspicuous vehicles, huh…”
“No, forget about that. I don’t care what it looks like. Do you have a cheap, low-maintenance motorbike, car, or ATV?”
“You’ll pay for it from the consignment, right?”
“Yes, that’s right. If that’s not enough, I can pay for more.”
“No, I think I can give you about 20,000 as a rough estimate. That’s right… Oh, you’re Japanese, aren’t you? I have a good one for you.”
He grinned, and I have a bad feeling about this.
“3,000… No, 2,000 is fine. It runs well and won’t break down. It can carry a lot of people, and it looks good.”
“No, I don’t care about the looks… or rather, hey…”
I was stunned when I saw the vehicle appear. It was an old, medium-sized, one-box car with a face on the front.
“Well then, thank you for your continued patronage.”
Simon cut the connection in a phony Kansai dialect that I don’t know where he learned it from.
I let out a sigh and turned around to see a dwarf girl peeking at me from behind a tree, probably out of curiosity. She’s still not moving, though.
“Myrril, you… Well, that’s fine.”
There is no need to hide it now.
Myrril, who began to move after a moment’s pause, seemed to be more interested than surprised by what she saw. She runs around and touches the car body, tapping it and peeking here and there with sparkling eyes.
“Is this some kind of monster-type magic tool? Yoshua, are you a mage?”
“No, I’m not a mage. It’s a merchant’s skill. And this is a microbus. For kindergarten.”
On the side of the body is written in Japanese “Niko Niko Kindergarten”. It even has a green number from the northern Kanto region on it… I guess it was exported overseas from a scrap car and ended up in Simon’s country. The smiling, fang-baring bear face on the front is surreal, though.
There are bullet holes all over the car’s body as if it has been through a lot. Some of the side windows are also broken and have been covered with cardboard and duct tape.
“What is kindergarten?”
“It’s like an orphanage for kids who still have parents. You don’t have to understand it. Come on, let’s go. Get in from there.”
The door was left open, so I climbed in and had a quick look around the car.
Some of the seats had been removed, but most of them were still usable. I ignore the reddish-black stain on the floor and head for the driver’s seat. The key is still in the ignition, and after a few twists and turns, the engine starts. The tachometer isn’t moving, but when I tap the board, the needle begins to wobble. The fuel gauge was just over half full. Assuming it’s working properly, that is.
I tried the lever on the side of the door to see if it would close, and it did, with a creak. There was still a small gap, but I ignored it.
I get the excited dwarf girl in the front row and put her seatbelt on, and I sit down in the driver’s seat. It’s been a long time since I’ve driven a car with a manual transmission.
I press down on the clutch, adjust the accelerator, shift the gears and start the car. As soon as the car is moving, I check the brakes. The brakes seem to be working a little sluggishly, but there’s no problem.
I drove the microbus out of the forest and onto a bumpy, muddy road, being careful not to break the tires. As I reached a wide country road, I made sure there was no sign of life and sped up a little.
“I-it’s fast! It’s much faster than a donkey and a horse!”
“Yes, that’s right. More than twice as fast as a horse.”
I thought a horse could go forty or fifty kilometers an hour at full speed. I don’t really remember. But this car, even though it’s a piece of junk, can go at least a hundred kilometers per hour. The road is not paved, so it won’t go that fast.
“Twice as fast as a horse! Only a flying monster can go that fast! What’s going on? What’s making this thing move? A magic stone? There’s no magic circle anywhere, and there’s no sign of magic either!”
“It’s called gasoline. It is a kind of oil that burns well. The power of its combustion turns a pulley at the engine’s core, which in turn transmits the power to the wheels through a series of iron gears.”
It might not be exactly true, but I don’t know the details of cars and engines. Perhaps because of her race that she is so keen to learn about machinery, the dwarf girl let out a breath of admiration.
“Gasoline… I’ve never heard of it?”
“Yes. It is a refined form of oil that is pumped up from the ground, but I don’t think it is possible in this country.”
“Can I disassemble it?”
“No, please don’t. When I have more money, I’ll buy you a smaller engine.”
“Really? That’s a promise!”
If she is going to touch it, it would be better to start with an air-cooled single-piston motorbike or something. I’d rather use the microbus from now on, if possible.
It was a pleasant ride for a while as nightfall was approaching. I wondered whether we should camp here or turn on the lights and get some more distance when I saw something shiny ahead.
“Myrril, what do you think that is?”
“A battle. It’s a light of magic. It’s half a mile away, and at this speed, we’ll be within combat range by the time we’ve counted to twenty.”
I turned away from the road and got out of the car in the shade from the direction of the light. Myrril nodded regretfully when I told her that we would be traveling on foot.
“You’re not going to throw this away, are you?”
“No, I’ll store it.”
The dwarf girl rolled her eyes as she watched the microbus disappear in an instant. Rather than being surprised, she seemed to think it was just one more toy to enjoy. We continue past the battlefield and around the mountainside. The forest gets thicker and becomes more difficult to move, but it’s much better than getting caught up in some crazy battle.
“Do you think they can see us?”
“I don’t know. But we’ll soon find out. It was the mage who was up there, so if he could see us, he could…”
There was a blast with a thunderous roar. When I looked back, I saw that the place I had just been was in flames.
“We can’t just stay here.”