Here’s the chapter, enjoy~
Chapter 15 – Distant Home
“…Hmm. I’m not saying it’s good, but it’s not that bad either.”
Myrril and I ate the warmed MREs on the bus. We built a fire a short distance away from the microbus and boiled a barrel of water in a pot we found in the wreckage of the horse-drawn carriage to boil the water. Although I had some kind of FR heater that heats up when you pour water into it, it was dark, and I couldn’t really read the instructions, so since it was too much trouble, I decided to boil it in the pot. It looks interesting, though, the heater.
The beastman children were lying on the floor, covered with the blankets Simon had given me and the cloths we had taken from the carriage. Not one of them has regained consciousness yet.
“In the meantime, I’d like to cut off their collars. I don’t know what it’s made of, but my little knife won’t cut it.”
“Well, eat. You’ll have a better idea when your stomach is full.”
In a retort pouch that looked like something out of desert camouflage, I found a piece of chicken in a rich tomato sauce, some kind of mashed potatoes, and something that looked like chili beans. Apart from that, there was some kind of damp cracker, a cheese-flavored paste, and a fruit-flavored juice made from dissolving powder — dried fruit.
None of it was inedible, but it tasted medicinal or artificial, and it wasn’t even good.
At any rate, I wouldn’t want to eat them all.
The sweet fruit-flavored snack bar and the colorful sugar-coated chocolate that came as a bonus were well received by Myrril. As for the coffee, she was not used to drinking it, and even though I added powdered milk and sugar, she drank it with a complicated expression on her face.
“If we weren’t in the middle of an escape, I wouldn’t mind shooting a deer or a boar or something.”
“In places where there are many beasts, there are also magical beasts that prey on them. You shouldn’t make any more noise than necessary. I don’t have the energy to dismantle them right now. I can’t afford to be extravagant at this time. I’m just thankful that my stomach is full.”
There are magical beasts, huh? I don’t know what they look like, but I certainly wouldn’t want to attract one in the forest at night.
Even in my former world, I heard that assault rifles, which are less powerful than hunting rifles, are not enough to deal with brown bears, for example. 7.62×39mm bullets used in AKs have about 75% of the firing energy of hunting rifles, so they are just barely enough. However, the 5.56x45mm (west side) and 5.45x39mm (east side) bullets, which are now the mainstream of military guns, are only about half as powerful as those for hunting. They are copper-coated warheads, so they will fall out even if they hit the target, making it impossible to kill large wild animals.
It’s a firearm intended for use against humans in the first place.
In order to protect myself in this world, I might need a more powerful firearm.
I asked for a rifle for sniping, but I couldn’t handle a bolt action in a situation where multiple enemies were chasing me.
If it is from around WW2, the same military rifle is also used in the West with 7.62×51mm ammunition, almost the same ammunition used in hunting rifles. It might be possible to ask for those automatic rifles called battle rifles to distinguish them from assault rifles. It is also possible to maximize the damage to the target by using a hunting warhead that cracks inside the body, but I wonder if there is such a thing available in the black market.
As I pondered this, I tried to convey it to Myrril in as simple terms as possible. I wanted her to get used to firearms and support me in the future, and she may want to know about it herself.
More importantly, with the conversation, the tastelessness of the MREs wouldn’t bother me as much.
“I don’t know. Bigger balls mean more power, don’t they?”
“The first number on the butt of the ammo is the caliber, the size of the warhead. The number behind it is the length of the casing, which is almost equal to the power. For example, the pistol I gave to Myrril was a .45 caliber, 11.2 millimeters, which is big, but it has less powder, so it’s only about a quarter as powerful as an AKM.
“The numbers… have different letter shapes.
“Oh, I see. Sorry, I forgot.”
In the middle of our conversation, I heard a small gurgling sound of the stomach.
I was in the middle of a meal, but I looked at Myrril suspiciously, and she shook her head with a slightly angry expression. I followed her gaze and looked around the car, and my eyes met with what looked like a mummy man with dog ears trying to hide behind the seat. It seems that it was having trouble escaping because we were at the entrance.
“Oh, that’s bad. Why don’t you come over here and have some food?”
There was no reply to my question. It only growled and bared its fangs. It seems hungry but doesn’t trust us.
“Who are you people? What are you doing here?”
After staring at each other for a while, the dog-eared one growled lowly in frustration. It’s hard to tell the gender of a beastman when they are children, but it seems to be a girl from the sound of the voice. She seemed to be acting like a man in order to protect herself, though.
When I was at a loss for a response, Myrril offered a helping hand.
“We’re just travelers who happened to be passing by. The people who attacked you almost killed us.”
“And we struck them back. Well, it was an easy battle, though, wasn’t it?”
She knows, Myrril-san.
It’s not easy to win against that kind of force. Certainly, it was a dangerous situation when they came around. Perhaps the dwarf girl understood from my gaze; she lightly shrugged her shoulders.
“Well, it was a bit of a struggle, and we indeed killed them. And while we’re at it, I’d like to help you guys out, too, if you want a ride back to wherever it is you’re from.”
A voice full of conviction. It was too light to be called resignation.
“Well, let’s just say it. If we ride this, dozens of miles will pass in no time at all.”
“Casemaian. That’s where we’re from.”
Myrril’s face tensed up when she heard this. The expression slipped from her face, and the blood drained slightly.
“…I see. You’re right; it’s going to be hard to get there.”
“Is it far?”
Myrril shook her head quietly at my question. She looked back at me with a smile on her face, as if she was about to cry, and gave me a faraway look as if she were looking far behind me.
“It’s a subhuman country about 50 miles down the road. It was destroyed about a quarter of a century ago.”
Chapter 16 – A New Hostility
The beastman kids woke up one after another, and Myrril and I were busy opening the MREs and mixing the powder into water. Perhaps they were too hungry, but they ate without complaining. Even if there was something that didn’t suit their palates, they ate it with a troubled look on their faces.
We had to go outside every time to boil water. There were too many of them to accommodate in one pot. I got tired of the hassle and decided to try the FR heater.
I managed to read the instructions by the light of the car’s interior lamp and poured water into the pot. It immediately started to overheat, but it didn’t seem to be that interesting to the people in this world who know magic — such a shame.
There were twelve MRE bags in the big box, and even if everyone ate them, there were still three left. When I told them to eat more if they wanted, the beastman children shared the food. Perhaps they consume more food than normal humans.
“We continued on our way north. We’ll pass the Casemaian ruins on the way. You guys go back to sleep; I’ll wake you when we get there. Before you do, I’d like to ask you if you knew any of the dead beastman adults?”
My question was met with anxious glances from the children. When I tilted my head to see if it was difficult to answer, the dog-eared girl answered on the children’s behalf. She seemed to be the oldest of them all.
“Those people are the Casemaian Liberation Army. They were freeing the enslaved beastman in the kingdom. I owe them a debt of gratitude, but it’s not like I knew them.”
“Should we bury them?”
“…No. Their last words to me were to leave them alone and run.”
Oh, as expected from adults. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to take your word for it. I apologize for treating you like those idiots from the kingdom who attacked us on their own and got beaten back, but we don’t have the manpower or tools to dig a hole.
If anyone can bury them, it will be me, but there will be no one to protect me in the meantime. I pray for their souls, but I’m not related to them. When I die, I’ll be on the side of the road just like them… No, I mean, Simon.
I suddenly shouted, and the children shivered in fear.
“W-what is it, all of a sudden?”
I got off the bus and ran back to the wreckage of the carriage to collect the bodies of the dead beastman.
That’s right. If they’re not alive, they can be stored. I haven’t tried it yet, but I don’t think they will decompose in the storage. If there is a lapse of time, then that’s it.
“I see. So that’s it.”
“What’s the matter with you? What was that? What did you just do?”
“Then, the children’s collars too…?”
“Yoshua! Stop ignoring me and tell me what’s going on!”
“Hey, Myrril, does the collar have a curse that will kill you if you remove it?”
“I’ve never heard of anything like that. It’s just that it is strong and unbreakable. It would be unprofitable to use advanced magic or magical tools on each slave, even if you could.”
I was relieved to hear that. I checked them one by one and stored the collars. Also, the manacles and shackles. The children’s faces brightened as they felt the sudden relief in their limbs and necks.
“What did you do?”
“It’s a storage spell. There’s not a lot of magic I can use, though.”
“…That may be so, but those few spells are all insane.”
Myrril exhaled in exasperation, but her face looked happy.
“Alright, let’s get going. Sit on the chair or lie on the floor.”
“Wait, the dark forest is dangerous…”
“Don’t worry. It’s a magical beast-shaped tool that uses light magic to illuminate the way ahead.”
It was neither a magical beast nor a magical tool, but whatever.
I sat down in the driver’s seat and started the engine. As soon as it started moving, the kids were curious and looked out the window, but they soon rolled over and started sleeping.
Myrril also looked sleepy, so I told her I would wake her up if anything happened and asked her to go to the children.
It was the first time for me to drive a car in complete darkness, and I was nervous at first, but the road was well maintained enough for horse-drawn carriages to pass through, and I knew that no one would be traveling the streets at night, so I decided to drive without hesitation.
I estimated 80 km, assuming that a mile in this world is about the same as a mile (= 1.6 km) in my former world. Before the sun rose, we had reached the 50 miles that Myrril had told me about. We were already out of the forest, and what emerged out of the darkness was a huge ravine at the end of the plain. On both sides were sheer cliffs, several kilometers wide and maybe a hundred meters high. The top of the canyon was flat, and there seemed to be a building, but it was too dark to tell.
I stopped the car and woke up Myrril. The children were sound asleep, so I left them to sleep.
“Oh, that’s Casemaian. It’s in ruins now; no one lives there or even approaches…”
Then, without warning, dozens of arrows rained down from somewhere. I hurriedly back up, honked the car horn and fled out of range. It was a curved shot that drew a bow trajectory, and the angle may not have been correct, but it hit the roof and was shot off. However, a serious combat arrowhead will break the window glass if it hits.
“I thought you said there was no one there!”
“T-that should be…”
I couldn’t see anyone, but a voice came from nearby.
“If you come any closer, I will kill you!”
That’s right. If there is a rebel army or resistance, they will use their former home country as a base. Or rather, it’s because of these people that the kingdom’s elite troops went out to fight, and the slave boys and girls who escaped got caught in the crossfire.
Well. I don’t know what to do to clear up the misunderstanding.
“I’ll try to persuade them.”
“Will you be alright?”
“I don’t know. Yoshua will protect me in case of an emergency, won’t he?”
I opened the door, and Myrril went downstairs. I can’t leave her alone, so I pull out my AKM and start guarding her. I asked Myrril to stop at a distance where she could run into the car at any time in case an arrow came down.
“I am Myrril, daughter of Kajnail, former blacksmith of Casemaian! If there are any representatives, please come out!”
There was no response for a while, but then about ten beastman appeared from the nearby bushes. Dogs, wolves, bears, cats… and tigers? They were of various types, but their physiques surpassed those of humans, and they carried machetes and spear-like objects in their hands. For those who are physically stronger than humans, they can always kill us at any distance.
“I don’t see anyone with a bow.”
“They are the vanguard, and the archers are the rearguard. They’re probably still aiming from somewhere. They’re probably elves. Don’t make any bad moves here.”
Oh, so they’re here, the elves.
The beastmen who approached observed Myrril and smiled slightly when they saw that she was a dwarf. But when their gaze turned to me, a glint flashed in their eyes.
I hear a voice filled with hatred, and a slender beastman, cat or tiger or whatever it is, comes straight at me. Myrril stood in front of me without hesitation and held out her hands.
“Stop. He’s our lifesaver.”
“Why? You are a dwarf, and you know it, don’t you? The humans killed our people! They humiliated our mothers and sisters and enslaved our children!”
“Not this man. He has no malice, no hostility, no harm. …And…”
Myrril glanced at me behind her for a moment.
“If this man has hostile intentions, he is a mage with the power to turn you into corpses in an instant.”
The beastman froze in unison. It’s not that they were scared. But a strong murderous intent is gathering thickly around the microbus.
What’s that? Did you think I was the dangerous type, Myrril? I thought about storing the beastman’s weapons for a while… but when I thought about it, these guys could easily beat me to death with just their basic strength.
It’s not possible. Myrril is right.
“What’s wrong? Are we there yet?”
The one who got off while saying that was the dog-eared girl who had been sleeping in the car. She rubbed her eyes sleepily as she walked past us without a sense of urgency.
“Human! What did you do to Helma?”
I didn’t do anything to her, but then she answered for me.
“He killed the kingdom’s mages and saved us all. The adults in the Liberation Army were killed, though.”
“Oh, yeah, I forgot. I’m keeping the bodies of the Liberation Army members. I want to hand them over somewhere, so if you can take them, please do.”
“Huh! What are you talking about…?”
“It’s true. Yoshua is a mage, even if he’s scrawny.”
“Y-you know, Myrril-san, the way you say it. It’s a little…”
“Can you believe that? He would have put collars and shackles on the children and the dwarf while they were off their guard and made them his slaves!”
“The collars and shackles were put on me by the kingdom’s people, but this guy… took them off us. He gave us food and drove us here.”
The beastman who surrounded the place seemed to be puzzled and disbelieving at the explanation of the dog-eared girl who seemed to be called Helma.
“Myrril, can you bring the children to clear up the misunderstanding?”
“That’s no good.”
“No, it’s not going to change the situation. If I bring them, they’ll think I’m taking hostages.”
“It’s more of a problem for me to move now.”
“Don’t worry about me. I’ll take care of myself…”
“That’s the problem. If I leave this place, there might be a fight. Yoshua can indeed protect himself, but at least the majority of the beastman will die. If that happens, our relationship will be irreparable.”
That’s right. I understand. I made up my mind and spoke to the tiger (or so I thought) girl who intended to kill me.
“Hey, you there.”
“Don’t be so aggressive. I’ll be quiet. In this box are the children of the beastman we brought back. They may be asleep, but can you bring them over?”
She approached warily, weapon in hand. She jumped up lightly on the side of the vehicle, looked in through the window, and entered through the door as I moved to the side.
“There’s Minelle and Cola! Caine’s here too. Hey, someone come here!”
The tiger girl came out with a pair of sleepy children in her arms. A bear and a dog, or perhaps a wolf-like beastman, took turns entering the car. They seemed to have let their guard down a bit after confirming that the children were safe.
Rather, they seemed to think that they could kill me anytime they wanted to, seeing my size.
Well, they’re not wrong.
The bear-man and wolf-man looked at Myrril and me and tilted their heads in wonder. For now, the machetes are sheathed, and the spears are on their backs. I don’t see any intent to attack at the moment.
“What is your purpose? Why did you do this to them? And what is this strange vehicle?”
“This is Yoshua. He uses all sorts of strange magical tools. Both he and I are wanted men in the kingdom, and we were thinking of fleeing the kingdom, but…”
The bear-man replied calmly.
“This place is about to become a battlefield. If you want to run, that’s fine…”
“The north of the kingdom is a dark forest inhabited by monsters. In addition to this, there is also the empire to the east and the tribal union to the west. …Perhaps you’ve made up your mind?”
“Yeah. We once escaped to the empire, the union, or the dark forest. It was the same everywhere. We either starved to death, were oppressed and killed, became slaves, or became pet animals. We’ve stopped living as such nomads.”
“That’s all right, then.”
“Yoshua, what are you trying to say?”
“In such a natural stronghold, and in the motherland of an independent faction, there is no way they could just take it back. Could it be that you killed the kingdom’s garrison here?
I guessed right. They can’t wait for war. Well, we killed the third prince and all his bodyguards, so we have no right to blame them.
Myrril looked back at me. But she didn’t look me in the eye. I had a bad feeling about this.
“…Then that’s all for now. Thank you for your help, Yoshua.”
“Hey, what are you talking about? Why don’t you run away with me? I’ll protect you wherever we go.”
“That’s very kind of you to say. I can’t run away. I can’t run anymore.”
I don’t understand. We have been running all this way. Why did you change your mind right here?
“Is it because you’re… a subhuman or something like that?”
“That’s part of it. But more than that, it’s about the mechanical bow that I created and was robbed of. If my mechanical bow were to be used in a battle here, ordinary shields and armor would be no match for it. No matter how good the bravery of the beastman, they would be killed in a flash. That is my fault.”
I let out a sigh.
I had hoped that I would soon reach the Shangri-la somewhere and live happily ever after, forgetting about those idiots in the kingdom.
“Human, you are granted special permission to pass through. As long as you do not antagonize us, we will not touch you. You may go wherever you wish.”
The tiger girl (temporary) looked unhappy, but she didn’t outwardly argue, probably because the bear-man was in a better position. Myrril walks toward the ravine with her back to me.
A war is about to start. That may be true. The people of the kingdom might do it.
I don’t know anything about this world, and I don’t care much about it. Whether it’s about defeating the demon king or saving the world, I don’t care. I’ll just run away to a quiet place and live my life the way I want to.
But I’m not so much of a coward that I’m going to stand back and let the first girl I ever met fight for her life. …Maybe.
“Wait, Myrril, you owe me. I won’t let you do anything you don’t want to until you pay it back.”
The beastman roared in anger, but I didn’t care. I looked at Myrril, who had a resentful expression on her face and smiled.
“But well, you and I have a short relationship. I can wait to collect until we destroy the kingdom’s army, okay?”