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A man named Willis, who was a member of the Peninsula Kingdom Temporary Expeditionary Brigade, was now walking in the forest far north.
Wallis was a 28-year-old man this year and had no surname.
The Peninsula Kingdom was an intense place after the war that ended 175 years ago. In the war which lasted for about fifty years, half of the land was occupied by a pagan country, the Entak Dragon Kingdom, and the southern region was ruled by pagans for forty years. Even after the war ended, the bloodlines of the pagans remained, and of course they were forced to convert, but the traces of cultural mixing were still strong.
The name Wallis (ワリス) was one of them, and if the pronunciation of the Arn language was used in the Cocolulu region, Walis (ワーリス) or Valis (ワァリス). However, Wallis himself didn’t have such knowledge, so he didn’t know the origin of his name. Wallis was born and had never been given the opportunity to learn, and he could only read a minimum number of works related to work.
He didn’t even have a surname. His parents, who were small farmers on a farm, named their third child Wallis in the name of a distant relative. When he grew up to a certain age, the need toward food became higher. Since it put pressure on household food expenses, he was given to a ‘middle man’.
A middle man was a kind of slave trade who introduced a child to a place where there was a demand for labor and received a commission instead. They were the people who changed their title from ‘slave trader’ after the legal slave hunting was banned in the country by the national law. Actually, there was no change in procedure of giving money to parents as the price of the child, and receiving more money from the ‘referrals’. Plus, the child would be forced to work.
Unlike real slaves, this labor was hard at a deadline. In the case of Wallis, he was hired by a lord as a miscellaneous worker in the mountain village and was forced to work for ten years. He was sold by his parents at the age of eleven, and when he finished his work at the age of 21, he had only one tattered-everyday-wear, and a few bronze coins left.
After that, he volunteered for a unit that happened to be recruiting troops and became a member of it. The unit that was recruiting young people at that time had the army fund. Food wasn’t a problem. The sleeping place was secured though it was poor, but overall, it was just perfect.
After spending almost seven years there, Wallis learned how to handle swords, shields, spears, bows and guns. However, since the gun required gunpowder for training, he had only fired a couple of times in reality. Therefore, the training was done exclusively with old-fashioned weapons.
Then, a recruitment of northern Crusade participation arrived.
Even now and in the past, the Peninsula Kingdom wasn’t interested in joining the northern Crusade. The Peninsula Kingdom, which occupied the southernmost part of the Isus religion, wasn’t so interested in managing the territory in the north. At one point, they refused to accept the convocation of the Crusade, but this indifference was blamed by the Papal States. After a dispute, a war broke out, the king’s head fell, and the lord of the throne changed.
After that, there was a time when a unit of 10000 people was sent, but in this Crusade, they sent only 1000 people. A unit of 1000 people. Just as a pretext.
Because of this situation, the Peninsula Kingdom army, even if they sent troops to the north, didn’t participate in active invasions like other armies, but usually exclusively protects the rear and defenses of the supply line. Therefore, there were few opportunities for soldiers to pillage, which was a source of income, and harvesting by looting couldn’t be expected.
However, instead of that, participants were given a special salary of 50 percent increase in addition to the regular salary. so to speak, the business trip fee was attached. Wallis was participating for that reason.
However, now he was being hunted for a very troublesome job. It was a mountain hunt to catch the Long Ear that just escaped the other day.
Wallis walked silently while stepping on the ground of humus mixed with dead branches. The leaves of the deciduous trees were thickly piled up. The soil that froze and melted repeatedly was moist and wet. When he stepped on it, the soil sunk slightly, and let out the water it contained. In his hometown, the dry sea breeze passed well. So, the soil of the quality that he had never seen, the gloomy weather and cold air made him depressed.
A man named Arly, who was from a hunter, was walking in front of him. Wallis was just walking with heavy equipment, but the man, who was moving in front of him, had light equipment. Instead, Arly had to walk slowly while scrutinizing the ground. Wallis didn’t know, but there were traces of people walking.
After a while, Arly stopped and turned around. When he caught up, Arly said ‘Let’s take a break’.
“It’s still early.” (Wallis)
“It’s neither early nor late. I’m tired.” (Arly)
He used strange old words, but Arly wasn’t so old. He was sure that he was about to reach the age of 40. However, from the perspective of Wallis, Arly was definitely older, so he didn’t say anything.
“Hmm, it’s no good. I don’t recognize the soil.” (Arly)
“What do you mean?” (Wallis)
“If it’s the soil of my hometown, I could tell that if they walk stealthily after a few hours. But with this soil, I’m not used to it.” (Arly)
Arly made an excuse.
“I wish there is at least a dog.” (Arly)
“Please be patient. If you kill the one who is running away, we will get a special reward.” (Wallis)
The noble said before departure that they would be rewarded with two gold coins if he killed him. The amount of two gold coins was a large amount of money that Wallis had never held.
“I don’t get the money, you know. This is what the country is all about.” (Arly)
For the past few days, while teaming up, Wallis learned while listening to the story, but it seemed that this man named Arly had been imprisoned for false charges in the past. So, for that reason, he was looked down by his society. It seemed that the reason why he quit to be a hunter and joined the army was because he couldn’t stay in his hometown due to the false accusation.
Wallis didn’t know if it was actually a false accusation, and he wasn’t interested in it, but that was why he didn’t want to believe in the country.
Arly sat down on the spot without asking.
“To begin with, it’s scary to chase a face-stripping man. It’s nice to get gold coins, but if you’re killed, you won’t have any children.” (Arly)
Wallis also heard the story. He didn’t know why, but it seemed that the person they chased peeled off his face when he ran away. He imitated the eastern barbarians that he had heard in the story. Those barbarians didn’t know the culture.
“If he isn’t an animal, he’s a big man. It has a deep foot.” (Arly)
If the person had a deep foot, it should be easy to find. Was it an excuse to rest because he wasn’t familiar with the soil?
“If I feel that I can’t get him, I would have to run away.” (Arly)
“Then, I wouldn’t get the money.” (Wallis)
Wallis didn’t remember hearing about the rewards for running away without killing. Perhaps, he couldn’t get even a small amount of money just by looking at it and reporting it. He had to kill or catch that guy.
“That’s absurd.” (Arly)
When that was spoken, Wallis’ mind became dark.
“That’s why I said, do the work for the salary. If we don’t make it to the meeting place, we will be in distress.” (Wallis)
‘Did he wait long enough?’
“Is it about time?” (Wallis)
Arly stood up and started walking while looking at the ground again. They walked without conversation. Soon, the trees became less crowded, and somehow the width began to widen. It was about ten steps away.
After walking for a while, a stick extended from the shadow of the tree and stuck Arly.
Avoiding the thin metal plate of the helmet, Arly, who was struck by the neck, collapsed as it was.
Before understanding what had happened, a man with a black face appeared from the shade of a tree and reached Arly’s fallen body.
The appearance was as if an ancient demon, who was said to live in the forest, appeared. However, the demon didn’t seem to be aware of him, and was fishing for Arly’s fallen body.
‘Is he trying to steal his belongings?’
Wallis decided to fight. It seemed that the enemy wasn’t aware of him. He gently reached for his back and took a short bow.
The experience of shooting a lot of arrows at the straw bundle during training, allowed him to move smoothly without trembling even under such circumstances.
He took the bow, took the arrow from the quiver, held it, and pulled it. *Gyuuu* as he aimed.
Then, as if the demon had suddenly noticed something, he looked at Wallis. The moment their eyes met, Wallis’ right hand was letting go of the strings.
The unleashed arrow aimed at the torso, but it was slightly off and flew toward the demon’s face. Even so, the power was sufficient, and Wallis first felt the response to hit.
However, the arrow didn’t penetrate anyone. The arrow was grabbed.
The demon shook his head violently and at the same time, shook his arm at a speed that was unnoticeable, and the arrow was held by the demon’s hand around the middle.
The steel that should pierce the meat and bone remained floating without touching anything.
The demon, who grabbed the arrow, looked at the arrow in his hand as if he was a bit surprised. He regained his disordered posture due to avoidance and threw the arrow casually. He pulled his sword out of the sheath, and rushed toward Wallis with a speed like a beast.
It was clear that he couldn’t afford to hold the second arrow and shoot it, so Wallis quickly abandoned the short bow. With that hand, he grabbed the handle of the sword that was hung on the waist and pulled it out.
However, the movement wasn’t refined. He had never repeatedly practiced the emergency action of throwing away his bow and pulling out the sword, and fear and impatience made the movement even more awkward. When the sword was pulled out, the demon was closing the distance of ten steps to one step.
Wallis put out his sword without having time to take a stance. However, the sword didn’t catch the flesh, and instead, a heavy impact struck his arm. A fist was struck on the arm holding the sword.
The heavy impact on the forearm numbed the hand holding the sword. The sword that he was barely holding was also taken off his arm, and when his wrist was twisted, his fist opened and he fell to the ground.
When his chest was kicked down as it was, he rolled to the ground. Then, he had an idea in the mind.
‘I can’t beat this guy. In the first place, the fighting power was hopelessly different.’
To begin with, there is no way to fight and win against the existence that grabs the flying arrow and stops it. He is a monster.’
‘That’s the end of my life.’
However, when the demon further kicked Wallis and had him face down, he tied his arms around his back tightly with a rope or something. The tied arm was pulled by force, and when he was raised, he was allowed to sit as it was.
Then, he came out in front of Wallis and faced him. Something that Wallis thought was a forest demon was clearly human, with black mud on his face.
“Now… you… no, you.” (Y???) (TLN: The first ‘you’ is 貴殿/Kiden which is used to address male equals or superior, and the other ‘you’ is お前/Omae)
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The man suddenly started speaking Wallis’ mother tongue.
Wallis laughed unintentionally because he didn’t understand the situation.
‘Am I dreaming? Why does he speak our words? If this was the one we were chasing, wouldn’t he speak that incomprehensible Long Ear language?’
“You got courage to laugh in this situation. Let me give you some good news. I’m not going to kill you right now. The bad news is that if you don’t answer the question I’m about to ask or lie, it’s better to die. In fact, if you don’t speak to the end, you’ll soon suffer and die.” (Y???)
The demon started talking in quick succession. In summary, it seemed that torture was about to begin.
“I’ve already tortured three guys like you already. I’ll compare it with the information I got, so I can tell if you lie. Also, if you speak honestly, you will not be injured. For example, you won’t be crippled, have one eye or have no nose, and have to spend your entire life hiding from others. If you want to live like a person in the future, talk fluently. I’m not going to torture you for half a day, so do that or I’ll scoop your eyes.” (Y???)
Wallis looked behind the man. In other words, he turned his gaze to Arly, but Arly seemed to be lying down and didn’t get up.
If Arly was alive, it would be possible to just get up and shoot from the back, but that was unlikely to be expected.
“Then, my first question, what’s your name?” (Y???)
When that question was asked, the idea of not wanting to reveal his name to the man ran in Wallis’ head.
At the same time, with the thought that he couldn’t reveal his name, giving the name would make it easier to talk from now on. So, the real name wasn’t important. The reasoning was passed.
“Carlmist Hopper.” (Wallis)
Wallis told a fake name.
Then, the man stood up quickly. He suddenly raised his leg up, aimed and stepped down at Wallis’ foot.
At the same time as the impact of being hit by a heavy hammer, a dull sound was heard along the bones. Severe pain ran through the leg.
The moment he tried to scream, the man’s fist slammed into Wallis’ cheek. In other words, he was beaten.
Wallis’ body rolled down.
“Don’t scream.” (Y???)
“Guh… uuuu~~.” (Wallis)
Although there was still severe pain in the broken leg, Wallis forcibly closed his mouth. When the head was trampled further and the helmet was taken off roughly, his hair was roughly grabbed and pulled as much as possible. From the state of lying on the ground, the upper body was forcibly raised and seated.
Then, their eyes met again.
“I know if you lie. Are you as intelligent as a three-year-old child? Or did you think I was a nice person who had compassion for the cockroaches and feces that had been aimed at my life?” (Y???)
The man, who said that, didn’t show any kindness. It was the eyes of a beast that couldn’t afford being kind. It was like a carnivorous beast that was hungry, cornered and desperate.
“I’ll ask again. What’s your name?” (Y???)
“W-wallis! I’m Finger-length Wallis!” (Wallis)
Wallis thought it would be unnatural if he didn’t give a surname, so he immediately added a nickname. The Finger-length was the nickname given to him during the labor era because the ring finger was as long as the middle finger. He was given the special nickname because there was a time when there was another man named Wallis at the same site. It wasn’t a lie.
“I see. So, you are Wallis.” (Y???)
Wallis heard that, he thought about the guys he spoke earlier before telling his name. The name Carlmist Hopper was just an idea, not someone from the expeditionary force.
For example, if he called himself Arly, the demon might have mistaken him for Arly. But the name Carlmist was bad.
“Next question. How many people are chasing me?” (Y???)
“1000 people.” (Wallis)
Wallis replied honestly.
“Is that so…? However, you are alone in 1000 people. If 1000 people are following my steps, you should be approaching from side to side, as if you were squeezing the flour on the board.” (Y???)
“Didn’t you know? 600 people are looking for something other than you. Our side only has 200 people.” (Wallis)
“The numbers don’t match. That’s 800 if you add them all. Where did the remaining 200 go?” (Y???)
“They are looking on the other side of that fine road. You should know that much!” (Wallis)
When it came to how many people there were, it was a matter that he should have already gotten if his companion spit it out first. It wasn’t particularly complicated content, so to speak, it was common sense and basic information.
That meant that the man in front of him was saying something like this in order to make him give more answers and confirm the discrepancy in the story after inquiring about his name. From Wallis’ point of view, there was also a suspicion. Rather than confirming the situation, he wanted that guy to release him quickly so he could feel relieved.
“So, the group of 600 people is going straight to Reform along the seaside. They are searching while plundering there. Your group of 200 people is more or less on the lookout in the nearby area.” (Y???)
“That’s right. Are you satisfied with this?” (Wallis)
“Yes. Well, the story is the same. So, are the large and small units coming to this side working closely together?” (Y???)
“I don’t know that.” (Wallis)
He really didn’t know. The matter whether the units were coordinating with each other was something that didn’t make sense for a terminal soldier like Wallis to know.
“I see. Well, from the look of it, I guess you don’t know because you’re a low rank soldier.” (Y???)
“Shut up. It’s none of your business.” (Wallis)
“Next question. How are your organizational structure look like?” (Y???)
“Organizational structure?” (Wallis)
Those were unfamiliar words.
“Is it a difficult term? The 1000 people that you were talking about. Who is the commander? Who is the leader of the 200-man group you belong to? Who is your direct boss and how many people do he lead?” (Y???)
“Haa? Didn’t you ask the previous guy?” (Wallis)
“Of course I heard that, but that may be a lie. So I want to hear from your mouth and verify it.” (Y???)
From Wallis’ point of view, he couldn’t understand the never to hear and confirm such information three times.
‘Is it that important?’
“The commander is Prince Zayed. Zayed Kamuri Samuri.” (Wallis)
“Where is he now?” (Y???)
“…He is leading the 600-man unit. However, I don’t know if he’s actually leading the unit on site. That person is… I don’t think he likes to go into the forest.” (Wallis)
“Alright, next question. Who is the leader of the 200-man unit?” (Y???)
“200-man unit? It’s the army of Count Drain, who hires me, is in charge of this. The leader is Peanock-sama.” (Wallis)
“Then, who is your direct superior?” (Y???)
“He is an old man called the strong Jean. He is the leader of a 10-man unit.” (Wallis)
Wallis was talking fluently. Anyhow, if the matter had already came out of someone else’s mouth, he wouldn’t know who said it. So, no one would blame him later.
“Your talk is getting smoother. Then, what’s your mission?” (Y???)
“What? I’m probably going after you?” (Wallis)
“Me? Hunting a remaining soldier of a defeated army?” (Y???)
“I guess we’re going after you guys because you burned our supply.” (Wallis)
“…What did you say? Tell me more.” (Y???)
The man changed his complexion.
“You guys know best, aren’t you?” (Wallis)
The moment Wallis said that, the man’s hand stretched out. The cheek was slammed with a flat hand. He felt his nose cut and nosebleed dripping.
“Don’t get carried away. Talk about the one you are chasing.” (Y???)
“…We’re chasing the duo eagle riders who crashed. They set fire from the sky and crush the Papal States’ dignity. They are extremely in a bad mood. Aren’t the two of you acting together?” (Wallis)
“What are you saying? I’m not riding an eagle. I mounted a bird that couldn’t fly, and I’m just an officer who came late to the battlefield.” (Y???)
A question mark swirled in Wallis’ head.
‘Aren’t these guys the ones they are chasing? Or is it just defeated soldiers?’
“Tsk. That’s perfect.” (Y???)
And the demon was alone.
Apparently, Wallis’ reasoning was correct. Wallis himself was on the rear guard, and didn’t participate. However, if they were such a big battle, it wouldn’t be strange if there was only one defeated soldier who escaped to the forest instead of the main road. Not just a person alone, it wouldn’t be strange if there were 100 or 1000 people in the forest.
However, Wallis was chasing him by chance, but it was a skill that he shouldn’t touch. About this, he could only say that he was out of luck.
“Hehehe, hahaha! What a shame!” (Wallis)
Wallis couldn’t help laughing when he thought of the humorous and miserable situation of the man in front of him.
“Shut up!” (Y???)
The man hit Wallis’ face again, but from the perspective of Wallis, it was certainly funny.
“Hahaha… aah, yes.” (Wallis)
When he fell down on the ground again, he saw Arly’s body, why was ten steps away and still fell down.
“Oi, is that the old man there alive?” (Wallis)
Wallis spoke meekly as if asking for help. That was what he wanted to say. And if the old man was still alive…
“Aah, that huh? I’m going to finish him.” (Y???)
“Haa? Why…?” (Wallis)
As expected, as far as he could see it, the man was cold-blooded.
“I don’t have to kill him, so I tried to stop it with a hit, but I broke his neck. Just so you know, he will just suffer and die. I should make it easier for him now.” (Y???)
“Then, do it.” (Wallis)
He said it easily. He felt that it was true for some reason. When it came to Arly’s life and death matter, it was better to be alive, but now, it didn’t matter if he was dead.
“Yes. That’s all I want to hear. Thank you for your hard work.” (Y???)
When the man said that, he covered Wallis’ mouth with a cloth and tied it tightly behind his head. He wouldn’t let Wallis make a loud voice.
The rope on the back was unlike to be unraveled and it wasn’t possible to scream and call companions. His leg was broken.
Wallis realized that if he was left there as it was, there wouldn’t be a way to get help.
Wallis protested with all his strength.
However, the man no longer concerned about him as if he had lost interest. He reached for Wallis’ luggage, and robbed what was inside. And then, he didn’t look back.
When he went to Arly, he put the blade on the back of his neck to make him breathless. The corpse was turned on his back. The man cut a cross, said a prayer like a priest, and then, took his luggage.
When that was over, he disappeared into the forest.
- Yes, the other person is Yuri but since this is from Wallis’ POV and he doesn’t know who Yuri was, I put Yuri’s name as Y???.
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