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Peanock Drain, the current Count of Drain, met his subordinates in the forest.
The Drain County had a relatively rich and large area, and the Count household always had about 400 soldiers. The soldiers were rarely used in wars with neighboring nobles, but in most cases, he was dispatched at the request of upper nobles, such as upper dukes, and usually worked to maintain security in the territory.
When he needed more troops, he could impose military service to further increase the troops and became an army of about 1000 people, but he didn’t do that this time. He recruited 400 soldiers, and led 200 among them.
They consisted of fixed numbers of a few Knights in feudal contractual relationships and soldiers mixed with hoodlums.
Hiring hoodlums in the territory could also be a display of permanent soldiers, and by gathering poor men who were likely to be criminals if left alone, they would be instructed to attack bandit organizations the moment they appeared. Such a method was adopted by many nobles because it was a wise rule method due to the change of the war background by the appearance of guns.
Among them, Count Drain’s army might have succeeded in training. While there were many nobles who remained as thugs in bandit organizations, Count Drain’s army gradually created a mechanism to train the thugs through training little by little.
They woke up and trained at regular time every morning, and they were allowed to have a moderate distraction at night, but they had to go to bed by midnight. In addition to such a regular life, if they were sometimes given praised and moderate pride, they would also act with some moderation. In that way, they had been steadily improving the training.
It was also thanks to Prince Zayed’s request that he was selected for the expedition to the Northern Crusade.
If the roots were no different from bandits, they couldn’t be left with the security of the supply. If not, they would steal the supply all at once, stealing bags of gold coins and killing the Knights. Everything would be lost. The origin of the soldiers was only a matter of origin, and although such cases wouldn’t disappear completely, it was within the permissible range in Count Drain’s army.
The army was divided into two units. Knight Sanja Mactony and Knight Canker Willens led 100 soldiers each. Further below that, there were 50-man, 20-man and 10-man soldiers.
“Hmm, so?” (Peanock)
“I found two other villages here, but they were all burned.” (Sanja)
Peanock nodded and replied.
The places where the three of them went to were villages which had already been burnt. However, it didn’t mean that the Kuran burned it. Apparently, the Shanti burned it themselves.
If they did this, the invaders would be in great trouble. That was because it was the most efficient way to get food for soldiers and horses in the invading area.
“Other than that? Did you find the demon?” (Peanock)
“No. Not even one.” (Sanja)
“Hmm… what about you?” (Peanock)
Peanock urged Canker.
Both Canker and Sanja led 100-man units and were in charge of half the search area.
“Yes. At least one of them is running away.” (Canker)
Peanock made a unique gesture. It was a gesture that wasn’t suitable for a person who turned 35 this year, and when he heard an intriguing report, he looked displeased. It was a habit.
“But one of them seems to be very skillful.” (Canker)
“Is that man a demon?” (Peanock)
“No, it seems different according to the story I heard.” (Canker)
“And that is?” (Peanock)
“The attacked person was saved.” (Canker)
Peanock was surprised because it felt strange. What did it mean for someone who was being in pursuit to keep the pursuit person alive?
Actually, if he broke the legs so that the man couldn’t walk on his own, they would need several people to care for them. For that reason, two people from Canker’s unit had undertaken the duty to take care of that man, and they were discharged from their regular service. However, Peanock didn’t have such an understanding.
“The man was threatened with torture, got his leg broke instead of greeting. He was told that he would be alive if he spoke, and it seemed that he spoke easily.” (Canker)
“Hmm. While he is a demon, he is very faithful, is it?” (Peanock)
In torture, it would be normal to promise not to kill if the tortured person spoke. However, whether the tortured person was killed or not would be another matter.
It was such a verbal promise, and it wasn’t always necessary to keep it. To keep a promise that wouldn’t receive a backlash if anyone didn’t keep it meant that the torturer might have a characteristic of abiding rules. That was what Peanock thought.
“I don’t get it myself. According to him, the demon didn’t know about the dragon or explosion on the supply.” (Canker)
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“It seems that he is one of those who lost in the decisive battle and ran away.” (Canker)
“Really? Perhaps, there are such people.” (Peanock)
Some people would enter the forest. When Peanock thought about it, it would be strange if the enemy didn’t enter the forest.
“However, the demon is somehow having an unthinkable means of deceiving another.” (Canker)
“A leader of a 10-man unit and three soldiers have already been killed.” (Canker)
“What did you say?” (Peanock)
“When they follow his footsteps, it seems that traps have been set up. “The leader of the 10-man unit was killed like this.” (Canker)
Canker hit his belly with his forearm.
“When he stepped on a rope or something on the ground, a bent branch flew diagonally from below, and…” (Canker)
“Did he get hit by the branch?” (Peanock)
“An arrow was tied on the branch. I took it from the soldier he killed.” (Canker)
Peanock distorted his face, imagining the scene.
“Ugh… Did he die?” (Peanock)
“Yes. An arrow with barbs stuck in his belly.” (Canker)
“It’s fine if he died.” (Peanock)
The 10-men unit leader wasn’t given the Knight status, but he was to be entrusted with the upsurge of hoodlums. It wasn’t a shame if he wasn’t a Knight, and even on the way to the north, he could be considered as a person who died in the fight against the bandits who were aiming for the supply.
“But why does the demon do such a thing?” (Peanock)
“I don’t know. With that kind of trick, he should have already run away. There’s no reason for him to walk nonchalantly.” (Canker)
That was the question. The Count Drain’s army immediately rode their horse as soon as they were ordered. Perhaps, it was decided to go ahead, start an investigation and search the forest. However, thanks to the lost of three days until the order was issued, it caused a fatal delay in the initial action.
If a person had three days, he could gain a considerable distance if he was a trained person.
It had been five days since the decisive battle, but a person who was walking around like this these days was either he was injured, slow or stupid person. It was strange for someone that competent to still remain in this place because his legs should be fine if he had training in the army.
“Is his leg injured?” (Peanock)
“I don’t think so. According to the victim, the distance of ten steps was shortened in a blink of an eye.” (Canker)
“Hmm… Certainly, he’s slow.” (Peanock)
“Maybe he is sick. Or maybe because he is hungry?” (Canker)
“Huh! A demon could have a diarrhea?” (Peanock)
Peanock threw that idea away because it didn’t seem related.
“However, it’s true that the demon has skills. What should we do?” (Canker)
“What do you mean?” (Peanock)
“Should I follow him persistently?” (Canker)
When Peanock looked at Canker, it seemed that he wanted to overlook the demon. To tell the truth, the surviving foolish soldier exaggerated it. In addition, the death of one of the 10-men unit leaders spread the uneasiness among the soldiers.
Furthermore, among the soldiers, the number of hunters, who were accustomed to tracking the footsteps was limited. All three people who were killed were hunters (two of them whom died in the trap). Since they had to take the lead in searching for the footsteps, it would be natural that they would fall prey of the trap first.
Even if they had no experience, they couldn’t do pursuit work. Plus, it would be a slow task to walk in the dark forest, looking for the slight dents carved in the black humus soil. In other words, the search ability of the unit was beginning to decline.
Even so, it was of course possible to hit the thugs’ butt to get the job done. However, after making some more sacrifices, it wasn’t worth the effort to get a common demon.
Even if they crushed his throat and made him a criminal, then, the demon would be like a small fish that was injured and left behind. That would be enough. Besides, they heard that many of the demons were caught on the coastline. They didn’t have to go out of their way to look around the forest and catch him at great expense and effort.
“Of course, pursue him.” (Peanock)
However, Peanock’s reply was ruthless.
“It’s a job directly commissioned by Sir Palazzo of the Papal States. Also, Prince Zayed’s expectations are high. Can you spare ten to twenty soldiers?” (Panock)
“However, as I said earlier, the demon is likely to be just a deserter…” (Canker)
“I don’t know how much I can believe. It’s just a story from a soldier. Besides, even if it’s not real, and even if you don’t catch him, it won’t stand out either. That’s because Sanja’s unit is trying to find one of them. That’s right.” (Peanock)
Common people didn’t bother to walk in the forest that was difficult to walk. In the previous battlefield, the reinforcements of Shaalta were in charge of the palace firmly. The retreat was largely orderly, and it didn’t become a commotion like scattering spiderlings.
Sanja’s unit, which was in charge of half of the search range, didn’t catch any of them and they didn’t find anyone who was fleeing. They found only an old man who committed suicide in his home.
“If that’s the case, I understand.” (Canker)
However, Peanock’s reason wasn’t unjustified. Canker nodded.
“Then, do your best. Dismiss.” (Peanock)
Canker rode his horse that day and returned to his troops.
In a small campsite with only one patched tent, there were a few lean messengers and two 50-men unit leader. Being lean meant that they were suitable for running long distances. It didn’t mean that they were weakening.
Usually, a messenger required horsemanship to carry out mission safely, but it was useless in the forest. Instead, what was needed was physical strength to run through the forest. Therefore, Canker selected people who were good at long-distance running and made them messengers.
When Canker arrived, everyone stood up from their chairs and gave a bow.
When he said that, everyone took a comfortable position. Some people sat in chairs.
“Peanock-sama wants you to catch the Long Ear.” (Canker)
The one who let out the small voice that was hardly heard was one of the 50-men unit leaders. It had been discussed several times in the last few days, but in his opinion, the two Long Ear targets had already gone out by the sea and hidden in the enemy royal capital.
So, the person in charge of searching for such a forest would deal with a job that required much effort but a little profit. In other words, it was a poor luck from the beginning.
From Canker’s point of view, that wasn’t always the case. However, he thought that it was a shame to come to such a conclusion, but he couldn’t understand it. And if there were such a thought, it might be normal that he would tired to be ordered to catch them.
“Don’t worry. I’ll take direct command.” (Canker)
“You can’t catch them with an army with low morale. I will gather people who I can use among you. The rest… All you have to do is to take a break.” (Canker)
“How many people?” (??)
“I need approximately five people. Of course, those who can track the footsteps should be given priority. The rest will continuously chase after them. And I will chase him alone.” (Canker)
- The last part where Canker said he will chase Yuri alone is something that I can’t be sure. The sentence is quite vague. I’ll change it later if necessary.
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