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Chapter 161 – Burning Town
Armed residents gathered around, using women and children as shields.
I don’t know much about this. It seems that such a thing happened in Somalia, where the Black Hawk crashed. In the battle between the Kingdom and the Casemaian, the Kingdom’s army tried to use subhumans as shields for their “battle line slaves,” which is a shitty thing to do.
What I don’t understand is…
“And what the hell are they trying to do with it?”
“Of course, they want to kill us, don’t they?”
“That may be so, though. The residents who are using them as shields are armed.”
“Farm tools, sticks, and what appear to be cooking knives.”
“Isn’t that strange? The first to enter was fully armed guards. And then they sent in a bunch of amateurs carrying everyday necessities.”
“That’s true. Then they don’t need to win, do they?”
Are you saying that they are trying to stall for time? Or distract us? Or to create a distraction to achieving some other goal?
Whatever it is, it’s a diversion from the main objective. I guess the intention of those who sent this group of citizens was to serve as a decoy, whether they live or die.
“I don’t get it. Don’t shoot until they attack, Mir, or I’ll kidnap some of them and interrogate them.”
Tig and Louis, the vanguard of the Battlecry, must have sensed something was wrong and come down.
“McCain is protecting him with his large shield. Eino and Colon are also there, so there is no problem. We’ll be in the vanguard. Let me know the situation.”
“The bandit guild is threatening the citizens. Their purpose is unknown, but they seem to be up to something. I don’t know how many of them they have in Roses, but I’m sure they will mobilize all of them to attack us.”
Louis expressed her disgust at the way they were using the citizens, while Tig looked puzzled at the strange means they were using.
“Weird. If it is in retaliation for the destruction of the mole’s hideout or for preventing a criminal plot, it is too persistent in going to such lengths. Maybe he thinks Calmon has something important in his possession?”
“Takifu, did you find anything of importance among the things we took from the mole’s hideout?”
“I don’t know. I just put everything in a jumble and haven’t had the time or resources to look into it.”
“…Hey, you mean you’re still carrying everything around with you? How convenient is your storage magic?”
Louis shakes her head in dismay, but while convenient is convenient, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. There is no indexing function, no sorting function. At least I can’t use them. In other words, I can give you what you want, but if I don’t know what it is, I can’t give it to you.
“They’re on the move.”
“Mir, Tig, and the others. Citizens… as much as possible, don’t kill them. We don’t know if they’re hostile or if they’ve been ordered to.”
“I’m sorry to ask you to go through all this trouble. However, our first priority is to protect ourselves. If anyone tries to kill us, do not tolerate them.”
The three muscle-brain laugh at the same time.
“That’s a funny joke, isn’t it?”
“Oh, those guys…”
“They’re not going to kill us, are they?”
Is that right?
“I’ll take one of them and interrogate him. You’ll protect this place.”
“Be careful yourself, Takifu.”
“Right. I’m most worried about you. You’re too gentle for your ridiculous abilities.”
“Well, you’re right. You are too soft on the side. The stuffing is also too lenient. And your character, too. In short, too sweet.”
The three of them nodded in agreement to Louis’ comment. What’s up with these guys? Are they all linked by their brains and hearts?
I jumped with teleportation and stood in front of the man at the front of the line. He was a middle-aged man who had been given the order to move, and he was a merchant or something, relatively good-looking among the group.
I looked back at the group of citizens who were surprised by my sudden appearance and fired my Ithaca shotgun, smashing the handle of a plow raised by a strong-looking man who appeared to be a farmer.
“The guards who attacked us are all dead. If you are hostile to us, we will kill you too.”
“Y-you expect me to believe that story?”
I expose before their eyes the cruel corpse of the guard who was exposed to the iron ball of the Claymore in the front row. I realize now that it was the man who had stroked Myrilr’s body during the body check. I have already forgotten his name.
“Think about it. And if you still want to die, come to me anytime.”
Without giving himself time to react, I grabbed the first man I was aiming at by the chest and flew to the top of the ramparts.
There is not a soul in the snow-covered passageway on the ramparts. The distance was probably too great to cover the raiding party that was rushing into the inn.
I throw the man out and switch from the shotgun to a Maglite with a tonfa clip. I’m not a big fan of striking weapons, but it’s the only weapon I have that’s less lethal at the moment.
“I have a question.”
With a dull thud, the solid, machined aluminum shaft slams into the man’s shoulder. The man’s face is pale, and his forehead is greasy with sweat as if his collarbone had been broken by the blow.
“Shall we continue?”
“A-alright! I’ll answer!”
“Tell me why you came to attack us and what you want. The names and whereabouts of those who ordered it.”
“…I-if we kill you, the guild will give us money. A hundred gold pieces for each head.”
“That’s pretty straightforward. But you think you can kill us? The first group to enter was 20 armored guards. Those men will finish us off, and then you will have no more use. But if they don’t, that means they’re not worthy of us, you know.”
“I heard that the enemy has a soft spot for innocent people. If they are caught off guard, there is an opportunity to kill them.”
“Maybe for the innocent. But not for you.”
“We are the innocent!”
“Real innocent people don’t self-identify as such. There is a bandit guild in this town, isn’t there? Where is it?”
“I-I don’t know…”
This time I broke his left collarbone.
The man gasped and stifled a scream. Rather, the pain was too strong for him to scream. When a bone is broken, the pain is more like “I want to lie down” than simply “it hurts”; it’s almost unnerving.
I experienced it when I was a kid, but I don’t want to share those memories now.
“Oh, i-it’s the church!”
“It’s true! The priest is the guildmaster!”
The man cowered with his head in his hands as I raised my Maglite, desperately pleading for help. He was dripping with tears and snot and dripping with greasy sweat.
“If that’s the case, it sucks. So, you guys.”
“How many of the residents of Roses are connected to the bandit guild?”
The man’s eyes swim. I had a terrible feeling at the look of fear and despair in his eyes.
Leaving the man on the ramparts, I teleported back to the front of the inn.
Tig, Louis, and Myrril remained focused on the group of citizens camped at the end of the street. Without the merchant who had been giving them orders, they seemed to have become a complete ragtag group and were unable to move. It was good that they did not attack, but it was also a problem that they did not run away.
“Hey, Mir, things have turned out badly.”
“What the heck? Now is not the time. No matter how many bandit guilds there are, all we have to do is kill them, destroy them, rob them, and run away. There is no problem.”
Smiling wryly at Myrril’s nonchalance, Louis and Tig nod their heads in agreement.
“Have you finished your interrogation, Takifu? How did it go?”
”Everyone in this town is connected to the bandit guild. The economy, administration, and justice of the town of Roses revolve around the bandit guild. And now everyone is after our heads, young and old, male and female.”
If there are a hundred gold coins in one head, they will attack us. If they kill all of us, it will be 1,000 coins. For a man who grew up in this town, that’s enough money to live on for the rest of their life.
“Heads? You mean whether we live or die?”
“That’s what I heard. A hundred gold coins for each of our heads and five hundred for anyone who gets the contract back.”
“That’s a very low price for risking lives. What is this contract, anyway?”
I searched through my storage and pulled out something that looked like it. If I know what it is, I can pick it up to a certain extent. However…
“It’s a lot.”
“No, Takifu. There are at least 40 of them.”
“How am I supposed to know? The guy said it was a contract, so it’s one of these.”
It must have some evidence of fraud or crime on it. We don’t care about that right now.
“The church is the guild’s headquarters, and the priest is the guildmaster. And he’s trying to activate the curse.”
“A priest is the head of a criminal organization, and he’s about to administer a death sentence?”
“That’s a whole lot of stuff, isn’t it?”
Yes, it is. I agree.
“Republican law is irrelevant here. Takifu was right; the bandit guild has taken control of Roses.”
I yell at the rest of the militia, who are fidgeting with their stupid faces, not daring to attack us and not having the guts to retreat.
“Hey, you idiots! Get the hell out of here, or the guildmaster’s curse will be activated!”
I don’t know what exactly is going to happen, but I guess the armed citizens have come to understand that there are things that are out of their control.
They each threw out their hostage women and children and scattered and fled in pieces.
They should have done that from the beginning. Idiots.
I don’t think we’ll make it to the morning. It was too much to wait for the curse to be activated, so we decided to go and pick it up.
“Can you take care of this? We’ll go blow up the bandit guild along with the church.”
“You should be back soon.”
I left Louis and the others behind, who were waving their hands with a look of satisfaction on their faces, and I teleported to the roof of a nearby building, carrying Myrril in my arms.
“Mir, do you know where the church is?”
“Over there. Half a mile ahead, I see what looks like a steeple.”
I moved in the direction indicated by Myrril, and from the roof of a two-story house, I moved further and reached the steeple of the church, just next to the bell.
From the bell, a cord was dangling toward the backyard, and a man was running to ring it. Maybe it was a substitute for an alarm system, or maybe it was a signal for an emergency call. Whatever it was, it would only cause trouble, and I shot him dead with a MAC 10.
“You said ‘blow it up,’ did you bring your IED?”
“No. There was not much left, and I left it in Casemaian. Now I have a new one.”
When I showed her the clay-like lump, she looked at it and smelled it suspiciously. Touching the puffy object, she immediately gets an answer.
“It is explosive with a strange sweet smell. Is this some kind of “shifo” or something like that?”
“Rinko told you about that? This is Semtex, not C-4, but it’s the same kind of plastic explosive. It is detonated by this fuse. But first, I need to find some…”
I didn’t have anything handy, so I went through my storage and inserted trashy rusty knives, broken nails, and tattered metal fittings at random, and I rounded up empty shell casings to fill them in as I went along. That’s three in all.
“I see. They scatter and kill and wound the enemy, don’t they?”
“Correct. Let’s go.”
We went down to the front of the church and kicked open the entrance door.
Inside the church, lights were burning, and we could see a large space that looked like a chapel. About 30 men, fully armed, looked back at us with deadly expressions on their faces.
At the altar behind them is an old man in white monk’s robes with bloodshot eyes. Perhaps he is the priest. He is probably the guildmaster of the bandit guild.
“Hello, nice to meet you.”
“Who are you? What do you think you’re doing?”
“This is nothing, you shitheads. You started this. Then we’ll deal with it.”
“Don’t think you’ll get out of here alive, you stray dog.”
“Perhaps it’s because they’re all equally unintelligent, so the last words of every piece of trash are always the same.”
Next to the priest, a bloodied captain of the guard appears, dead-eyed and broken. The nearly frozen corpse twitches and collapses, leaning against the priest. Semtex spills from his hand, but no one pays any attention.
Thud, thud, thud.
The bodies of the attackers, their white winter coats stained with blood. The corpses of bowmen and swordsmen, clad in shabby clothes and with shocked expressions on their faces. The corpses of mages shot dead in a crouched position. The corpses of horses that died as collateral damage. One after another, they appear in the air and collapse and break.
The two homemade semtex were among them, but they were soon lost under the layers of bodies.
“Orphen…? You said he was alive.”
“Nathan was there, too. Priest, this is not what you told us!”
“I don’t know what you heard, but we killed all the assailants. We have no mercy for those who oppose us. Never have, never will.”
With a sigh, Myrril shoots dead the man who rushes in from behind with his sword ready. Dozens of eyes were watching the body, which had been shot through the eyeballs and was crumpled on its back.
“Here, like this, you see?”
“You bastards! Don’t think you can get away with this. The curse is already in effect. Nothing will be able to stop me until it swallows your corpses…”
“You can have the corpse. I’ll give you corpses, any number of corpses.”
The chapel is filled with corpses. The men who had been trying to fight back are unable to move, in complete panic, and don’t know what to do. They look around with frightened faces and seem to have stopped thinking.
“Calm down! This is nothing but a stupid illusion to create confusion!”
Only the priest remained calm, if only slightly. Perhaps the difference was that he did not care about the deaths of his men or his minions.
“Good grief. Even to the very end, congratulations!”
“Indeed. Then, taste it. You’re going to have to taste the end of my magic.”
Together with Myrril, I moved from in front of the church to the top of the ramparts, a few hundred meters away. The church was instantly in the distance, and the light leaking from the open door was visible in the distance.
I pressed the detonation switch on the fuse, but there was no response. Just as I wondered if the remote-controlled radio waves had exceeded their range, the steeple flew up vertically. The chapel scattered to dust, and a delayed roar reached our ears. The distorted clanging of the gongs faded into the distance beyond the darkness.
Our plan to quietly finish off only the hostile bandit guild and leave town is now completely ruined.
“I’ve gone too far, haven’t I?”
“No, it happens all the time.”
Myrril smiled contentedly in my arms.