Chapter 100 – A Plan To Go South
“It’s me. Is there anyone from the Winged Tribe around?”
Myrril spoke into the communicator. She was correct in assuming that someone from the Winged Tribe’s aerial surveillance team must be on the lookout for us. Soon after, a figure swooped down from the sky above us: it was Luvia-san, holding an M4 in front of her chest.
The horsemen escorting the marquis had been told that a messenger from our friends was coming.
“Are you calling for me, Your Majesty the King and Queen?”
Marquis Yerkel is looking at me with a puzzled look on her face.
“I thought the king was only talking nonsense regarding the Demon King.”
“Well, yes, that’s right. The kingdom and the empire seem to refer to the people of Casemaian as the demon race… and me as the Demon King, so I thought I would just call myself that.”
“…So you’re not really the Demon King?”
No, I don’t know. I don’t think it’s for me to decide.
“If you call subhumans with magic powers the demon race, then there are a lot of demon races in Casemaian. If the leader of them is the Demon King, then I, the leader of the army, must be the Demon King. Though I was summoned, I’m just a human, and I don’t have the power… to destroy the world.”
The fact that I had to pause for a moment is amusing.
It seems to me that if I armed all of the Casemaian and attacked the world, it would not be impossible to destroy the existing world.
Before that, if it meant economic collapse or the destruction of the social infrastructure, it was the source of the ongoing attempt to destroy the kingdom.
“Luvia-san, please deliver a message. It seems that the kingdom’s southern noble territory… is protecting subhuman refugees in the territory of Marquis Yerkel here, so I’d like to head to their rescue. Since vehicles are needed, please tell Yadar, Minya, and Perun to come here.”
“I understand. But what are the criteria for selecting these people?”
“People who can escort and drive a vehicle. There are nearly a hundred of them, so we need at least one more driver.”
Luvia-san put her finger to her chin as she listened but then tilted her head and smiled.
“Then, would it be all right with me?”
“Eh? Can you drive?”
“Yes. In the Beastman’s driving course, seven members of the winged tribe learned to drive. Unfortunately, only Owe and I were judged to have the aptitude to operate the maneuver.”
“Amazing! You can use a manual?”
The winged tribe, which has less muscle power and combat ability than other Beastman, has been thinking about ways to avoid the situation where they can’t do anything if they can’t fly.
Wow, what a positive image of a leader. If I lose my link to Simon, I’ll be just as useless as the other old man, and if I lose my gun, I’ll be more useless than a werewolf kid.
“Maybe I should learn something too…”
“What do you mean, “something”? Why don’t you stop talking nonsense and decide what you will do!”
Oh, my. You are so cold sometimes, Myrril-san.
“Okay, okay, wait a minute.”
She told Maeve-san, who had taken over the air patrol, about the situation via the communicator, and asked her to call Owe. Equipped with an M4 and with two drivers and escorts in hand, we were headed for Marquis Yerkel’s territory.
That’s fine, but it’s the vehicle.
I have a guess for the outbound trip, but the problem is the return trip that will take the 100 people back. It would be tedious and inefficient to go back to Casemaian now and pick up the Torajima-go or the Humvee.
Time stopped, and a podium appeared…
What? Simon isn’t here. I’m kind of in a hurry. I’ve seen him looking a little ruffled, wearing strange clothes, and fat, but this is the first time I’ve seen him absent, and I’m at a loss for reactions.
“No, no, no. This is not what I imagined, isn’t it? Yeah, I know. I know, honey. I love you more than anything in the world, and I would give everything in the world for you.”
What the hell is he talking about, coming out of the frame like that?
Simon, who was acting suspiciously, waved his hand at me, turned away, and whispered a few love words to someone before hanging up the phone. He’s all red in the face. I’ve never seen Simon like that before.
“I-I’m sorry, I’m a little busy with a personal matter.”
“I guess so. Yeah, I’ll be right back.”
I cut off the market and returned to Myrril and the others. Owe-san had arrived, and I told her about the future plan.
Then a thought occurred to me, and I ran up to a displaced family sitting on the side of the road nearby.
They were a pair of young sisters and a woman who looked like their mother, who was crouched with an exhausted face. They were probably refugees from the kingdom’s capital. They were dressed in their bare clothes, looking as if they were about to cry and desperately trying to hold on, but I could tell just by looking at them that they had reached the limits of their strength and energy.
The woman who seemed to be the mother was tensing up at my approach, but she did not seem to have the energy to react in any way, such as running away or fighting.
“Oh, you people. I have a job for you.”
“I know, I’m a suspicious one. But I don’t want to harm you, and I’ll pay you well. Just give me a minute.”
I packed a six-pack of the lightest possible rations, some snacks that would be calorie-rich, filling, and shelf-stable, and a sea rescue nutritional block, enough to last the three of them five days in a plastic bag. A six-pack of 500ml bottled mineral water is also placed in the plastic bag.
Three backpack-like cloth bags are brought out so that they can be divided and carried separately. The bags were from the kingdom army’s wagons, but they were made of different materials and designs, so they were not military equipment but someone’s personal belongings.
“This is for the upfront payment. After it is finished, I will also reward you for your success. I’d like you to collect some things around here… Oh, yes, of course. But first.”
I invited Marquis Yerkel, Myrril, and the others and suggested that we have dinner. The old man who was the coachman, the guards, and the cavalrymen were also asked to come, and a simple table was set up with cardboard from my storage.
“…Tekehue Yoshua-dono. What in the world are you going to do?”
“It’s time to eat. It’s almost noon, so let’s take a break and talk about what we’re going to do.”
I felt sorry for the sisters and their mother, so I set out a cardboard table and food for them at a distance from our table. Although they were stiff and unable to understand what was going on, I forced them to sit down to get some nourishment before work.
“Isn’t this tableware from the kingdom army…? No, that’s okay. So, where did these supplies appear…?”
The marquis shook her head in dismay as I pulled them out of storage.
The menu is the standard stock meal. The bread was still warm, it was a flatbread, and the meat was grilled with herb flavor. The soup was a minestrone-like dish with many ingredients prepared by the Beastman ladies. After the meal, I served Myrril a cream sandwich of cacao-flavored cookies, which she loves, and mineral water.
The mother and children who were seated a short distance away from us also had the same menu. The mother still looks nervous and does not fully trust me, but the two young sisters look overly happy at the sight of the food. I tell them we’ll talk business after dinner, and I go back to the marquis and the others.
“If you require tasting the poison, feel free to do so.”
“T-then I will…”
“No need, old man. I’ll take it gratefully. What’s the use of being cautious at this late stage of the game? At any rate, the other party is the Demon King of Casemaian.”
The knights escorting her also looked tense for a moment, but then, after some judging, they regained their composure and began to eat the food with relish.
The coachman called old man ( 爺 / Jii) seems to be a butler or a caretaker. Although he tried to take care of the marquis, he was always rejected.
“Don’t worry about me; why don’t you eat, too? It tastes wonderful. Especially this meat… Tekehue Yoshua-dono, what kind of meat is this?”
“The red meat is from a land-runner dragon. The white-colored one is a winged dragon. The herbs are from the Dark Forest, as are the poultry and vegetables in the soup.”
As I looked back at them, all of them except for Myrril and Luvia-san were completely frozen in place.
The people of Yerkel had that reaction, too. But, after becoming residents of Casemaian, they seem to have become somewhat accustomed to it.
“The land-running dragon is a monster of the grasslands, isn’t it? That thing is such a delicacy.”
“More than that, Ojou-sama, it’s the winged dragon… I wonder if it is that winged dragon? I’ve never known it to have such a refined taste.”
“I’ll leave it here for you, so you can have a refill. Oh, that water, just twists the round thing at the top of the container. Yes.”
After the meal, we took a break and talked about the future rescue plan for the subhuman comrades.
The current battlefield is the granary plain that used to be under the direct control of the royal family on the road connecting the royal capital and the marquis’ territory. It is about 200 miles or 320 kilometers from the current location.
We were told that if we passed through there, we should be able to reach the marquis’s territory without any problem.
The “passing through” was a big problem. Especially the return trip.
“I wonder if I can get another Ural.”
“Can’t you take a bus? If possible, I’d prefer a bear-faced one instead of a “sukurubasu” one.” [T/n: School Bus.]
“No, it’s not about the face; it’s just that I’m a little nervous about a bus carrying nearly 50 people through a war zone.”
“Yoshua-sama. I’ve gathered up all the supplies.”
I was surprised to see what the young sisters brought with them, and I was surprised to see how much better than I had expected. The mother supporting them in the back was anxious, but I had not expected it to be this good.
“Is this all right?”
“Of course it is. You did a wonderful job. Now, please take this.”
For the mother, I gave her a few silver coins, though I am not sure if she will have any use for them in the kingdom to come. And for the sisters, I gave them a large bag of candy.
Ah, yes, hypocrisy. Most of the horrors that befell the girls in the first place were a result of my handiwork. I know that, and I don’t regret that choice, but I also know that I need this kind of hypocrisy for my own mental stability. If it ultimately benefits me, I don’t have a problem with it. That’s how I see it.
“If I may ask, do you have a destination in mind?”
“…No. The situation in the royal capital has worsened, so I thought I would escape to the empire.”
“Do you have any relatives or acquaintances in the empire?”
“No. I have an aunt and grandparents in the southern noble territories, but I heard that it is impossible to reach there because the road has become a battlefield.”
“Then, why don’t you come with us? We are planning to go to the marquis’ territory in the south. We will take you there.”
The mother was more frightened than pleased at my suggestion. She didn’t seem to know how to react to a strange man (and even more mysterious nobles and subhumans) who was still a stranger to her.
For the time being, I asked Myrril and Luvia-san to keep an eye on the mother and daughter, and I faced reality again.