In between Long Breaks
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Map of the area
The area around the Zuk Bridge was a famous scenic spot, and the view of it from the downstream, which retains the remnants of the famous architecture of the Shantilla Great Empire, was especially known as scenic. From there, further back up the river and into the mountainous areas, there was a lake that would be covered by ice in winter, and on the banks of the lake was the temple of the Holy Lake belief. This shrine had been uninhabited for some reason by 1900, and by around 2000, there were stone walls remaining.
After visiting the scenic spots around the Zuk Bridge, one of the tourist routes had been established for young people with good legs and good health. They could climb further and enjoy the scenery of the lake and marshes.
At the moment, the whole unit was taking a regular break, and I was sitting on a chair that was a bit away. A big break was a break that took about an hour and it was mainly used for lunch. Currently, it was time to have lunch and take a break.
A river on the border ran across a small grove, and it made a rustling noise.
The river was vigorous and it sounded like it was washing a rough rock surface. The sound was different in quality from the rustling of a large river flowing through Sibyaku and it was never calm.
However, this was the end of the long journey. When I thought about it, I was glad. It was when I thought so.
The one who came with an eagle was my subordinates and he had a serious look. The man made a severe report in a voice that seemed to be serious.
“What? Can you repeat it one more time?” (Yuri)
I was involuntarily asking back.
“Yes. According to the reconnaissance of the Rube Household, a thousand troops with the flag of the papal States have landed and are climbing this road.” (??)
I felt my heart was gripped by frozen hands. I felt my blood pressure went up and my heart pounding.
“Is that so? What else do they say?” (Yuri)
“The bridge may have been destroyed. First of all, they want you to give priority to your safety.” (??)
‘That’s what it is. The bridge costs money and time to rebuild. If the information may be wrong, they won’t simply say that it may be broken that easily. If they say ‘it looks like it was a mistake’ after breaking the bridge, the damage is great.’
‘In other words, it is definitive information that has been confirmed multiple times, not just once. And speaking of ‘you’, it is a compound expression for the nobles. It implies Carol, Telor, and by extension me and Liao. That’s the order.’
“Did Kien-dono say that?” (Yuri)
“That’s right.” (??)
This person was Mira, the only Knight, who belonged to the Rube Household, among the eagle riders he brought. For that reason, he was in contact with the Rube Household near the end of the trip. It was no wonder that he met Kien in person.
“How’s the Hot Bridge?” (Yuri)
The Hot Bridge was a bridge that extended far downstream of this river, near the mouth of the river.
About three days ago, the bridge was shot by a gunboat at the point where I thought I would pass within the priority frame. The aim was so rough that most of the shells didn’t hit the bridge, but one that happened to hit, destroyed one of the continuous arches, and the bridge collapsed about ten meters. Because of that, those who decided to give up without waiting for rebuilding the bridge, people like us, were heading to the upstream bridge.
I heard that the gunboat was anchored at the coast where it couldn’t be seen from the water’s edge.
‘I thought it was just harassment, but was it set with this landing operation? But are they doing that now? Are they aiming for me? I don’t know.’
‘It was a blind spot that they carried a landing operation by ship. However, I couldn’t explain it even if I assumed that things were exposed from the beginning and they are aiming for us. If so, it would have been fine to attack before we reach the location.’
‘Why was there a time lag between the gunboat and landing? If they landed at the same time as the gunboat bombardment, we wouldn’t even reach the border yet. By doing so, they could stay at the water’s edge, their safety is ensured while staying far from the Rube territory. ‘In other words, it should have been possible to attack in a state where it was easy to withdraw.’
Was it better to land at the current timing? Or did they decide to chase us at the last minute?’
“Uhm, Yuri-dono?” (Mira)
“Aah, yes… keep going.” (Yuri)
“As for the Hot Bridge, we managed to bring some big trees and made a pass. Currently, all but large carriages have crossed.” (Mira)
‘Only a part of the bridge is broken. If we bring a number of logs that are about ten meters long, such repairs will be possible. It is difficult to transport such a log because it’s quite heavy, but if it’s made of small wood, it is necessary to make a bridge girder to support it. That’s the correct answer for emergency repair.’
“…Isn’t the Rube’s soldiers climbing?” (Yuri)
“It doesn’t seem so. After all, the bridge has collapsed.” (Mira)
‘Since they had already crossed over to Shaalta side, it may be the reason why they aren’t coming back to this side, right? It’s not easy to come back because bringing the refugees away and making them cross the bridge is the priority. It’s a big deal.’
“Tell them to return and do something about it. If they are downstream, they can’t come to this side even if they swim.” (Yuri)
“I understand that they can’t come by the time the enemy collides with us. But the enemy will probably slaughter if the people remain. Are you going to let those people, who would do that, leave just like that? What will happen to the reputation of the Rube Household?” (Yuri)
Mira made a bitter face.
“Tell only to Kien-dono Remember, only Kien-dono.” (Yuri)
When I said that, Mira ran to his eagle.
‘Today is June 29th. Tomorrow, we will arrive at the upstream Zuk Bridge. However, the Zuk Birdge over there is in heavy traffic because there are more than 10000 refugees waiting to cross over. In this state, what would happen if the enemy soldiers rush into it.’
‘However, when we get there, we will be the last one. It sounds good to say that we will be the shield for the people, but this isn’t a situation where such a thing can be allowed easily.’
I thought about it for ten seconds, but I returned to myself, remembering that it wasn’t time to think.
I threw my cane on the spot and walked toward my Galloping Bird. I still took good care of it, but this wasn’t the right time.
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When I called out while mounting the bird, Liao, who was on a break like me, turned around.
“Ouh, Yuri-dono.” (Liao)
The reply was cheerful.
‘This tiring expedition is nearing its end. Perhaps, that’s why he feels relaxed.’
Guillaume was next to Liao. He seemed to be calculating the remaining funds.
“Come here for a bit.” (Yuri)
I hooked the reins of the Galloping Bird on the protrusion part of a stopped carriage. I called Liao while pointing to the cluster of trees.
‘Incidentally, should I call Guillaume?’
“Guillaume, can you keep your mouth shut?” (Yuri)
“That will depend on your judgment.” (Guillaume)
‘The irritation… it’s coming again.’
“That’s not something that I ask you.” (Yuri)
My murderous intent words made him under pressure.
“It’s fine. Come here quickly. Don’t say anything else.” (Yuri)
‘If I were talked in that way, I will deal with him, but I’ll think again when that time comes again. I can’t afford doing it now.’
I walked a bit deeper into the forest as it was. I came to a spot where I didn’t have to worry about being heard by people, and faced each other.
There was a tree trunk that was just right, so I leaned my back on it.
“I’m going straight to the point. 1000 soldiers of the Papal States have landed near the estuary of the river. They went past the Hot Bridge and climbed here.” (Yuri)
When I said that, Liao’s eyes opened wide and Guillaume held his breath.
“I have to make a plan to let Carol and the princess escape. However, there is no problem with Carol so far. All I have to do is let her have an eagle and she can go to the other side.” (Yuri)
The river is already narrow and it can be crossed on foot.
Carol’s legs are also in much better condition. She will probably be able to ride an eagle. At this distance, there’s almost no anxiety.
“The problem is the carriage of the princess that Dolla is guarding. Go make it move ahead now.” (Yuri)
‘Telor can’t ride an eagle, so this action is necessary.’
“At the same time, get some platoons ahead and manage the refugees so that they can cross all night efficiently. Oh yes, use the most capable ones. If there are stubborn and rebellious people who can’t follow instructions, you can kill him on the spot.” (Yuri)
After saying that, I felt a bit uncomfortable.
‘Will there be no problem with killing? It’s scary to have blood splash in a crazy situation.’
“Wait, don’t stab them with a spear, just throw them into the river. I’ll take responsibility.” (Yuri)
‘If so, there will be no blood or dead bodies remaining.’
“Are they aiming at us?” (Liao)
Liao raised a question.
‘He is probably asking about the enemy.’
“I don’t know. But, well… it’s most likely that they’re aiming for the two princesses. If their goal is to hunt slaves, it’s a good idea to do it on the Hot Bridge.” (Yuri)
“That’s true.” (Liao)
‘Maybe, it’s necessary to destroy the Hot Bridge and move north as the first move of a more complicated and large-scale operation, but when I think about it normally, Carol and Telor are their purpose.’
“If they can’t do that, then, they will kill the people. In such an outback, it would be difficult to bring them back as slaves.” (Yuri)
“I agree. Especially if they are from the Papal States.” (Guillaume)
Guillaume said that he hadn’t even heard of it.
‘If there are a thousand soldiers, even if they can’t kill a million people, it’s easy for them to kill several thousand people. If a single soldier kills three people, then, it would be three thousand people. In fact, I don’t need time to think where the other side would do such a thing when it becomes impossible to bring people as slaves.’
‘There are tens of thousands people waiting for traffic in the vicinity of the bridge, upstream of this river. The thousand people we brought at the end are at the end of the line, so they won’t have a shortage of people to kill.’
“In the meantime, gather as many lumberjacks with ax as possible. If they don’t want it, pay it with money. Any number is fine.” (Yuri)
‘As a plan to dispose of the load when leaving Reform, only one tool related to the living is allowed to be brought. After all, large looms are useless, but there are quite a few people who have kitchen knives, sewing and carving tools. Well, there are few lumberjacks who stayed in the city, so some will have an ax.’
“I don’t understand what you’re going to do.” (Liao)
“Bring them, cut trees and knock it down the road.” (Yuri)
‘You need to understand that much. If you don’t, you’re stupid.’
“Yes. Cut the tree crown so that it covers the road.” (Yuri)
“Understood. We’ll do that.” (Liao)
“And keep the information secret from the refugees. I want them to get a good night’s sleep and get up early tomorrow morning, except for the amount of people who can cross all night.” (Yuri)
“Indeed. Let’s do that.” (Liao)
“That’s it. Get started.” (Yuri)
“Yuri-dono, are you going to look for Myaro?” (Liao)
“No, you will explain about this to Myaro.” (Yuri)
‘I have other things to do.’
“Get me an eagle and I will take a look at the enemy. We need to take action now. This is a game against time.” (Yuri)
Liao and Guillaume bowed to me and started running.
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