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During the night, I went to this road I had gone earlier. Then, I made a simple trap, took a roundabout route and returned to Carol in a circular motion.
Of course, if I returned straight to Carol, the pursuit would end up at Carol. So, I walked to a suitable distance, I carefully stepped on my footprint while illuminating my feet with a torch, I turned back to walk backwards.
A technique used by wild animals to hide the position of their nest from predators, called backtracking.
After a distance of less than 100 meters, I was really tired and went off to the side of the road. In other words, I didn’t return in the form of the O alphabet, but returned in the form of P.
I had already passed the deviated point. To put it simply, there were only a little less than 100 meters left. Their footprints told me that they didn’t notice my backtracking, and they went further. At the very end, I could see a human back in the gap between the trees. The enemy had already arrived at the end point.
My footprints were cut off, so it seemed that they were searching nearby. I quickly hid myself on the spot and observed them.
‘Now… The number of enemies has decreased by one to eleven. I am hiding behind a tree and can’t see everyone, so it looks like they were a group of ten people in total. It seems that they aren’t acting separately. Right now, it seems that they have put all non-armed luggage on the last stop, and are moving to search.’
One of them was heavily armed with plate armor instead of having his subordinates carry his luggage. It looked good because he stood up.
‘Even if there are eleven people, I can use the handmade bomb.’
There was a time I was thinking so.
Eleven people seemed to be exploring rather than moving, and they were a bit spread out. They weren’t crowded. They were spreading a bit in a place about 7 meters in diameter, and they were searching for footprints.
It was a troublesome situation.
‘If they are spread out, even if I throw a bomb, it would be nice if I could kill two people with the maximum effect. I don’t know if I do it in the plain, but trees and undergrowth are obstacles. On the other hand, if they are separated more than 10 meters apart, it seems possible to defeat each of them, but with this level of separateness, even if an arrow pierced one of them, they would immediately notice it as he would scream. Then, everyone would attack. It’s exquisitely troublesome.’
‘What should I do? Should I think for another two to three minutes? I don’t know how capable the opponents are, but the basic tactic would be to surround me first. If they follow me all at once, they can be subjected to the bomb, but that’s also difficult.’
‘I can’t read the time from ignition to explosion. It would be good if it takes five seconds like a grenade, but it’s not. Since I’m using a fuse, I don’t think it will trigger immediately, but I don’t know how many seconds it will take.’
‘Well, do I have to use the tactic of hit and run away? If it doesn’t work, I can just run away.’
I started walking in a natural way as much as possible.
As I walked briskly with small steps, I could see the back of the enemies.
‘Even if I go in when I’m likely to be noticed, I can’t appear scared. It’s important to be imposing.’
‘It’s frustrating that I had to put the bow and arrows on my back. If I give up the bomb and aim from a distance, I may fatally injure two people. However, there are eleven enemies.’
A middle-aged man at the rear, who was looking at the ground, noticed me and raised his head.
He had a face like he saw something strange. Of course, I had a cloth wrapped around my head, so he didn’t know that I was a Shanti.
“Oh, I’ve finally caught up. You guys are chasing the demon, right?” (Yuri)
“??? Yes, but…” (??)
“Who is the leader?” (Yuri) (TLN: Leader = 指導者)
He had a strange reaction. It seemed that the nuances were different.
“Yeah. I’m the commander.” (C?????) (TLN: Commanding officer = 指揮官)
“Commander is it? So, who are you?” (Yuri)
‘It seems he is the commanding officer. Is the word ‘leader’ a bit inappropriate?’
‘That was dangerous. I can’t pull back now, but it’s inevitable this pretense will collapse.’
“I came at the command of the Papal States Epitaph Palazzo. I am from the volunteer chivalric order unit.” (Yuri)
“I-I see. Sorry for being rude.” (C?????)
“It’s fine.” (Yuri)
‘That’s dangerous. I feel like I’m a bit too candid. Was the first character wrong?’
‘However, my appearance should still only look like a boy. If you think about it, it would be unnatural. Well, never mind. In case of emergency, let’s just run away.’
‘From the initial strategy, the bomb isn’t absolutely necessary. It’s just a bonus. I have to make sure that I don’t make any mistake. It’s over if I’m surrounded.’
“Commanding officer!” (??)
The plate armor man turned his back toward me to look at the man who was shouting.
‘Rather than wearing a face guard, he is wearing something like a mask (or visor) on the upper part of the face that he can slide up on his head. If he lowered the mask down, the visibility would be worse. And it would be difficult to do anything about it.’
‘Spear… if there’s a hand spear with a tip like a cone, it would be possible to pierce the armor. It would be easier if I have a weapon with power, such as an ice ax or pickaxe, rather than having an ordinary spear. Of course, I have neither.’
“What’s wrong?” (C?????)
“This guy is from the Papal States… I think he’s probably a liaison.” (??)
“I see.” (C?????)
“Nice to meet you.” (Yuri)
I greeted the Kuran the way thought by Eisa-Sensei. While putting the left hand on the right chest, I made a unique gesture of shaking my right hand and lowering my head.
The man called the commanding officer looked suspicious for a moment when he saw my gesture.
‘It’s dangerous. I feel like I’m fighting an expert who has unexpected knowledge on weapons.’
‘Although I didn’t understand where and how to be pushed or struck, I feel like I’m forced to match my knowledge with full confidence. The knowledge that I learned from Eisa-Sensei was quite detailed (and I’m proud of it) about the Papal States, so I thought it would be fine. There should be no problem if my accent is fixed to the Papal States.’
The commanding officer returned a gesture like me, though he looked quite lost. However, the gesture was quite awkward.
‘This kind of greeting seems to be a manner that is performed on a daily basis in a social class that wears such armor, so it doesn’t appear strange.’
‘Perhaps, I was wrong. What I did was a social or a court greeting, It seems that it’s not something that a military officer does on the battlefield, and he isn’t familiar with the local Knights of Papal States.’
“Nice to meet you. My name is Canker Willens.” (Canker)
He gave his name.
‘If he gave his, I need to give mine quickly.’
“Please excuse me. My name is Huguenot Francis.” (Yuri)
I quickly made a pseudonym.
‘If it’s become like this, it may be better to remain as the successful young man character. It’s a noble society anyway, and it will be accepted even in such a situation.’
“So, what kind of business do you have?” (Canker)
“Before that, I want to hear the search for the demon. What’s the progress?” (Yuri)
“It’s going well. I wonder if we will definitely catch him in two to three days.” (Canker)
‘Apparently, although I think I’m a suspicious person, he doesn’t doubt me. Oh yeah. I can speak the Kura language.’
‘It would be unexpected that the Shanti who they are chasing to be a Kura language speaker. If I try it from the other side, it will be an unthinkable story that I will be thrown a stone in Sibyaku. I could even get hit by a blonde woman.’
“Is that so? Aah, I forgot. I came under Sir Palazzo command.” (Yuri)
“I see.” (C?????)
“Specifically, what are you doing now? It looks like you’re standing still.” (Yuri)
I heard something that I could understand.
“We are following the demon’s footprints, but apparently, it’s cut off here. So, we’re just starting to look for more.” (Canker)
Surprising, he spoke honestly. It seemed that he didn’t intend to lie.
However, it was rather ‘where I started looking’ than ‘I was looking for a continuation?’ Then, these guys just arrived.
“Hmm, it seems that the demon is more aware of our pursuit.” (Yuri)
“That is… what should we do?” (Canker)
“I’ve been following his footprints too, but there was no evidence that you were looking at their footprint as scatter as it is now. I guess this was the first time it’s happening.” (Yuri)
When I said that, the commanding officer, who seemed to be called Canker, looked like he was struck by an idea.
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“That means that he is hiding because he has been overtaken by you guys, or… he is hiding nearby in an attempt to surprise us.” (Yuri)
“Is that so? It’s possible that we’re moving ahead because we happened to lose sight of him.” (Canker)
‘Well that would be the case. That’s a sound reasoning.’
‘Aah… That’s bad. I felt like I should put a stop to giving hints, but if I were to develop such a story, they should have been observing a little more.’
‘After searching a bit more, I would appear with a new weapon. Then, I can understand, but apparently they haven’t searched for more than thirty minutes. In such a state, the reasoning that ‘if you search a little more, you may find the footprints he went to earlier’ will still be valid.’
‘My theory of ‘he is hiding and aiming for a surprise attack’ is a story that should be taken into consideration for the first time after a thorough search, and the doubts that ‘this is very strange’ has swirled. The persuasive power will not be there until after searching for about thirty minutes. That atmosphere still hasn’t come out yet. However, it will break afterwards.’
“I see. Well, have you checked the top of the tree? If he starts climbing a tree from here, you can’t see his footprint.” (Yuri)
‘Actually, when I looked up at the tree, the leaves weren’t uniformed, but the dense canopy was wide enough that it would be difficult to find a hidden person once climbed up. Climbing a tree and waiting for it to pass is one way to do it. If you were shot with an arrow, it would be a checkmate, so I wouldn’t do it, but if you were a cornered person, that kind of option wouldn’t be strange.’
“I wonder about that.” (Canker)
Canker replied, neither affirmed nor denied.
‘Would he say that is doubtful? It only takes the form of a question in order not to collide with me as an expression, and I might deny it in my heart. Everyone can search on the tree, but it’s not necessary to be done.’
‘If everyone climbs on a tree, I start fighting Canker, those in a hurry will fall off the tree and will be injured. I had thought about that flow, but it seems impossible. It’s hard to shake whether he’s the type who believes his opinion strongly. Then, it’s difficult to take the initiative.’
“That reminds me, I’ve been entrusted with a certain weapon by Sir Palazzo.” (Yuri)
“This is it.” (Yuri)
I took out the homemade bomb. Canker looked at it and looked suspicious.
“This is a charcoal kneaded with a secret mixture put inside, and it will spread poison for the demon. If there is a demon in vicinity, he will start suffering, so we will know where he is.” (Yuri)
“…I see.” (Canker)
The silence was somewhat a bit long.
“Then, get them all together.” (Yuri)
“If the devil came out, everyone would have gone to defeat it. If not, he may be able to escape.” (Yuri)
‘For some reason, he seems to feel uneasy. I guess so. It’s cheap play.’
‘However, saying ‘let’s do it all at once’ always has a certain persuasive power as an opinion. Especially if you are someone from the Papal States (the setting of all this).’
“…But isn’t that poison harmful to humans?” (Canker)
‘I see. Is he worried about that?’
‘It’s true that even if it’s said that only Shanti will be selectively affected, it’s only a difference between poisonous and slightly poisonous. It is a decent thought that it may be more or less poisonous to themselves. Even if pesticides kill only insects, they are harmful to humans if the amount is too large.’
‘So, the reason he wants to avoid gathering all his subordinates in one place is to stay out of this, right? That’s also a correct reasoning. Even if I lie, it’s a bit bad.’
“To be exact, it’s different from a poison. It gives off a stench that will make the Long Ear breathless. For us… well, it feels like burning a fragrant tree.” (Yuri)
I lied nonchalantly. It was suspicious. But it was only a little bit.
“If you get it, gather them soon. Sir Palazzo isn’t a type of person who likes to wait.” (Yuri)
‘I don’t know about that. I’m just bulldozing it.’
After thinking for a while…
He said it. Then…
Canker issued a command.
When Canker issued the command, the people, who heard it, gathered.
‘Hmm… there are certainly eleven people.’
As I looked at them closely, everyone wore different clothes.
A rusty helmet like an iron bowl was the same for everyone, but the clothes were differently tailored. However, perhaps, in order to distinguish between the enemy and the ally, a white cloth with a simple mark was sewn on the chest and arm.
The clothes were probably different not because they were different armies, but because they weren’t official armies that could wear the same clothes.
After confirming that, I tried to light the bomb. I took out the lighter.
“Hmm…? What is that?” (Canker)
Canker pointed out.
“This is a popular item I received from Sir Palazzo.” (Yuri)
‘It’s alright to say everything as it is.’
“Directly from Sir Palazzo? I envy that.” (Canker)
“Aah, I take care of it.” (Yuri)
“By the way…” (Canker)
“Where did you get the outfit?” (Canker)
“…I supposed it is provided for camouflage?” (Yuri)
‘Don’t let your acting skills be questioned here. As for the clothes, I mean, I’m wearing the clothes that the dragon Knight wore. The tailoring is rugged, and no matter how much the battlefield attire is, it’s not something nobles would wear.’
“I just noticed what it looks like from the Dragon Kingdom. They have their coat of arms on their shoulders.” (Canker)
‘Aah. This is not good.’
‘Apparently, it belonged to the Entak Dragon Kingdom. In other words, it doesn’t belong to the Papal States.’
‘Since the clothes weren’t so different from the pursuers whom I killed, the only folk costume was the turban, and I thought the clothes were a standard design in the Telor language-speaking world. However, it seems that the viewer could see the difference. It’s over.’
‘Speaking of the Entak Dragon Kingdom, as the name implies, it’s one of the countries that deals with dragons. Assuming that the identity of the camouflaged corpse is known, wearing that outfit means that this is the Shanti who they are currently chasing. They will come up to that conclusion.’
‘The Entak Dragon Kingdom is a Cocolulu country, so there’s probably only one dragon Knight who dressed in it and participated in this war. However, it shouldn’t have been confirmed yet. This is not absolute evidence. Although it’s fairly strong circumstantial evidence.’
‘Is it possible to suddenly cut off the messenger (self-proclaimed) from the Papal States with circumstantial evidence of uncertainties? It’s risky.’
“Hmm. You seem to be suspicious of me.” (Yuri)
“Forgive me, but yes.” (Yuri)
‘If I was infinitely suspicious, why did he collect his subordinates? It may be because he judges that no matter what the identity of my homemade bomb is, it’s not a direct threat.’
‘From common sense, it’s necessary to ignite a fuse in order to ignite the bomb. Otherwise, it’s necessary to use an ignited one such as a matchlock, but that isn’t always possible to ignite reliably. This guy doesn’t recognize that the lighter I have now is a tool that can ignite instantly.’
“I’m afraid I have to ask you to take off the hood to clear my suspicion.” (Canker)
‘Is it already reaching this point? Well, that’s the fastest way. There should be no reason why it can’t be done.’
“Hmm… fine. I don’t want to spend time unnecessarily.” (Yuri)
I touched the cloth that I wrapped to hide my ears.
- Special thanks to the picture owner.
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