Chapter 98 – On The Highway
The distance from Casemaian to the kingdom’s capital is approximately 300 kilometers, depending on the route.
There are two routes connecting the two cities: the western route, which is almost the shortest route (to be precise, from the kingdom capital to the tribal union territories by passing through Casemaian), and the eastern route, which connects the empire capital and the kingdom capital while taking a large detour.
We are taking the east route. This route is better maintained and has a better view. This is the route we took before on our way to the kingdom capital with Humvee when we got caught up in a commotion in the Yerkel village and had to turn back.
“I hope we can safely make it to the kingdom capital this time.”
“Don’t worry. There is no one to stand in our way now.”
We were able to rescue our comrades in Yerkel, who had been betrayed by the villagers and captured by the imperial army, so I was satisfied with the outcome.
As we ride along the highway, we pass refugees several times. Some of them were surprised to see our bikes, but most of them showed no interest in us. I guess they don’t have time for that. They are carrying large bags, holding the hands of children and elderly people, and carrying babies, and they just go on their way without looking at us.
“Don’t think about anything else.”
As she keeps an eye on her surroundings in the sidecar, Myrril glances at me. She looks angry and serious.
“If you think you are the one who made them unhappy, you are mistaken.”
“Oh… no, but you see…”
“Even if it turns out to be true, it’s not worth it. I don’t know how lukewarm, kind, beautiful, and sweet a world you have lived in, but as far as I know, there are only two choices in this world. Kill your enemies or your friends will be killed.”
It may have been a harsh statement, but Myrril’s words made sense to me.
If I show mercy to my enemies, my friends and allies will be killed. Even if they don’t die, I put them in danger. The reason we have been successful so far is because we have killed our enemies, even if only as a result. I do not deny that.
A bad hesitation will lead not only myself but also Myrril and the residents of Casemaian into trouble. That is the one thing I cannot accept.
“I’m not saying that we should oppress even the people of the enemy country. That was the result of us surviving and defeating an enemy who attacked us. Accept it.”
“…Yes, that’s right. That’s exactly right.”
I probably didn’t want to take responsibility for the decisions I made.
I was half right in saying that the world was a soft and sweet place to be. I think I’ve been a third-rate businessman, living a life of trying to minimize risk by not being universally disliked and postponing problems.
Such a choice no longer exists. In this world where society and people are primitive, interests are bound to clash.
Only those with great and absolute power can reconcile conflicting interests. I still lack that power and resolve.
There were screams and cries in front of us, and Myrril let out a sigh.
“It’s a messy situation.”
A horse-drawn carriage is rammed into the side of the highway, and a woman is dragged from the back of the carriage and pushed down on the grass. Beside the carriage, a man, who appeared to be a merchant, was lying on his back, bleeding from the head, holding a boy of about seven or eight years old in his arms to protect him.
“Shut the kid up, or I’ll kill him.”
Five men in dirty leather armor with swords hanging from their arms and a man in armor on horseback look down at the barbaric act with cold eyes.
The image is so obvious that it makes me cringe. I’ve never seen anything like it in real life since I came to this world. There is no Adventurer’s Guild, but this kind of thing exists, huh?
“It can’t be helped. Yoshua, keep going.”
Myrril-san pulled a UZI bolt from the sidecar. Despite her sullen expression, she seemed to be very, very happy.
No, what she said before and what she is doing are different, aren’t they?
“Wouldn’t it be better if I just show them the power of His Majesty the Demon King?”
“…As your wish, Your Majesty the Queen.”
The men, who were originally regular soldiers, didn’t have time to react. Before they even noticed the Ural’s exhaust noise, a .45-caliber pistol bullet shot through the men’s groins.
Compared to a shot to the eyeballs, the bullet did not kill them instantly. However, they suffered through the pain and were not saved at the end, which is rather more merciless than killing them. The remaining horseman, frozen in place, shuddered at the sight of the men who continued to scream in agony.
The spear he was about to raise blows away. The man gasped and began to tremble as he saw the crumpled fingers of his right hand, which he lifted up after noticing something was wrong. The pain must have hit him only after he saw it. No doubt.
As I parked the Ural in front of the horse, Myrril-san stood up and held her hand out toward me in an exaggerated gesture.
“Refrain from doing so. You are in the presence of His Majesty the Demon King!”
…No, it’s impossible. There was no way I could react to that without a preamble. The merchant and his son were too stunned to understand what was going on.
The horseman, who seemed to be the superior officer, had five of their men wiped out in two seconds, and it was admirable that he was able to determine that we were the enemy.
The horseman reaches for the sword at his waist, not realizing that he can’t pull it out with his left hand alone in the first place.
Before he realizes it, a merciless bullet shoots through his wrist.
The scream was surprisingly feeble as if his heart had already been broken.
“I’ll leave you alive. Tell that to those who made foolish decisions. His Majesty the Demon King, who has descended to Casemaian, will bring the hammer of darkness down on any kingdom that tries to lay a hand on his servants!”
She glanced at me and made a face that said, “Are you going to say something?” There is nothing to say. Don’t be unreasonable, Myr-neesan.
I start the Ural, passing by the merchants who look on in dismay.
“If you’ve got time to attack merchants, why don’t you attack the kingdom’s castle, you coward! That’s why you’ve fallen to the ranks of brigands!”
…No, I don’t think that’s a good idea either. I mean, don’t bother turning around and yelling. The person you were attacking is probably already dead from shock or excessive bleeding.
“The country is on the brink of collapse, and you attack a merchant’s wife instead of quelling a civil war or protecting your people!”
“Hey, you can complain later. Look forward, Myrril!”
Two hundred meters ahead, through a blind corner of the forest, a four-horse chariot escorted by eight horsemen of the kingdom army appeared. The only people riding those things in the northern part of the kingdom today are probably the ringleaders of the civil war or the bigwig nobles on the ringleaders’ side or something.
It came from the opposite side, the cause of the kingdom’s collapse.
Chapter 99 – New Problem
Two hundred meters in front of us, that’s already the UZI’s range ― at least of Myrril’s UZI.
The carriage slowly slowed to a stop, and the coachman stood up on his platform and raised his hands.
The distance was about 150 meters. Surprisingly, the eight cavalrymen also stopped and dismounted. The spears and swords were placed on the ground, and all eight men dropped to one knee with their hands exposed in a visible position.
“…What the hell was that?”
“I don’t know, but I think they have something to say. To the Demon King.”
It was definitely going to be messy, but I was expecting something a little different, as I was prepared for a pile of corpses while doing reconnaissance.
After the master bowed his head to us, he ran to the side of the carriage and opened the door. The person who got out was a blonde woman dressed in a white military uniform. She was in her mid-twenties. Looking at the carriage, she must be a noblewoman of the kingdom, but I don’t know what kind of position she holds.
“P-please run away!”
The horse that galloped past the Ural belonged to the horseman who had fallen into a bandit earlier. With bloodied and crooked hands, he desperately maneuvers the reins and approaches the carriage.
“Lord Yerkel, these barbarians are treacherous! They use strange magic tools to stop the knights… buh.”
The horseman wavers and falls from his horse. The head rolls off the body, which is knocked to the ground.
Well done, you’ve got some skill. Lord Yerkel, or whatever she is called, is holding a fine-edged sword like those used in fencing. The woman looked down at him uncomfortably, and after waving the blood around, she sheathed it and handed it to the coachman.
Raising both hands to show that she was unarmed, she said in a clear voice.
“…Excuse me. Tekehue Yoshua-dono. May I have a word with you? Can I come over to you?”
She knew who I was, didn’t she? I don’t know where the information came from because I remember that I have been called by that name several times, although the pronunciation of my name is strange.
I looked at Myrril. The Nojaloli-san shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “Do as you please,” and hung up her UZI safety and placed it at the base of the sidecar. I have a copy of the M1911 in my shoulder holster with the safety on, so I can deal with it in an emergency. I could have taken action, but I was posing to my opponent (mainly as a courtesy) to let them know that I was not going to let my guard down.
Now, the problem is this noble in military uniform… and honestly, I’m not sure how to respond.
For now, I spread my hands in a pose as if to say that I, too, have been disarmed. It’s a sign that it’s okay to come. It would take me less than two seconds to pull my gun out of storage and shoot her, so it was literally just an act of courtesy.
Whether she knows it or not, Lord Yerkel walks toward us with a straight back, leaving the carriage and the soldiers escorting her behind.
“It is my first time meeting you. I am Kylie Yerkel. Although I am still young, I am the heir to a marquisate in the southern part of the kingdom. …As a matter of fact, I’ve been in the position since before the civil war.”
“What business do you have with me, Marquis-dono?”
“Nothing so much as a business. I am here to inform you that we, the southern nobility, have no interest in antagonizing the Casemaian. Therefore, I can only ask for your non-interference in the kingdom, but that is my personal opinion.”
“Fine, but what were you going to do if we refused?”
“Nothing. We, the southern nobility, did not send our army to the last war, but we know most of the unfortunate consequences of that conflict and your armed forces. We have no way to stop what you are doing, and we have no intention of stopping you. As you know, there is no profit in meddling in each other’s affairs.”
There are indeed risks, costs, and disadvantages, but not much benefit, in meddling in the territory of the southern nobles who have nothing to gain and have no grudge against each other. And from the other side’s point of view, it would be almost a suicide mission.
“You traversed the kingdom under civil war to reach Casemaian just for that reason?”
“I don’t deny that I had a personal interest, but it’s too late now. The situation has gone so far that it cannot be settled. I don’t know what you want from the kingdom, but I would be happy if you could at least wait until things are settled in this crisis.”
Things got strange. The two sides have mutual interests in noninterference, but on the other hand, there is no benefit to the relationship between the two sides, including the future. This makes it difficult to deal with the opposite.
“As long as you don’t touch Casemaian and the subhumans, we have no intention of harming you either. If there is anything we ask for, it is the protection and handover of the subhumans who have escaped within the kingdom.”
“As far as we know, the subhumans have taken refuge in our territory. They are in a relatively safe place and can be transferred at any time, but they will have to cross the battlefield to do so.”
The large military truck Ural is in my storage right now. Then the question is whether the number of people can be accommodated.
“Ninety-seven. I heard there are two pregnant women, but they are in good health. No one is injured or sick.”
I don’t think it’s feasible to transport them in a single truck. Depending on the distance, we thought about asking them to endure being crammed into the truck, but even if they stood up, 97 people would still be impossible to carry. In the first place, I don’t think the southern territory is such an easy distance.
“How far is it from here to the marquis’s territory?”
“It is about three hundred miles. It would take at least ten days by carriage.”
Yes, it is completely impossible; it is almost 500 kilometers. We could either use trucks to transport them in five or six separate trips, or we could go back to Casemaian and form a convoy with the Humvee and the Torajima-go.
This time we were just going to do reconnaissance.
“So, what are the conditions of their delivery?”
“Conditions? You think we’re in a position to make conditions?”
“From what I’ve heard and what I’ve seen, it’s hard to believe that the kingdom’s nobles have been protecting the subhuman race up until now. What I want to know is why.”
Young Marquis Kylie Yerkel shakes her head with a smile on her downcast face.
“The reason…? I would venture to say that it was redemption. It was a while ago that I thought they needed protection. We had a little trouble. We admit our mistake and ask for forgiveness.”
I nod my head at the marquis’s words.
From the look on her face, it seems that what she is saying is not simple and clean. I didn’t feel that she was trying to curry favor with the people of Casemaian because they had become more powerful. Something happened, and they made their own decisions and acted accordingly.
The question is, what is it…?
“Protection for redemption? Mistakes, by whom and for what kind of mistakes?”
“The truth is that we have only been able to protect 97 people, but there were several more than that in the former southern territories. But a royal decree went around, and subhumans from the southern noble territories were sent to the royal capital. At first, many of the lords thought they were getting rid of the subhumans, but gradually they began to feel uncomfortable. None of the subhumans who had gone to the capital returned, and no more news was received. The subhumans in the southern nobles’ territories became aggressive toward humans due to anxiety and distrust. Relations deteriorated, and frequent clashes broke out. The only way was to suppress them by force, but even that had its limits. We cannot kill them all just because we don’t like them. I know what you think of me, but at least on the surface, the kingdom’s laws guarantee that subhumans have the same right to be treated as humans.”
“I don’t need to go into the trouble of the preliminaries. What happened to the subhumans gathered in the royal capital?”
At Myrril’s questioning, Yerkel looked at us with dark eyes.
“It was about two months ago. I received a report from the spy. The subhumans were sacrificed for the summoning of heroes.”