“Hey, Golan. Is this really the right road?”
“Really? Are you sure we’re not taking a longer route?”
“This way is fine. Just shut up and walk… Actually, Beka. You should go on ahead and see if there are any enemies.”
“I don’t mind, but… How far should I go?”
“Up to the foot of that mountain.”
Beka went running off.
Even if there were enemies, she wouldn’t have any trouble running through them and coming back.
I could hear the sounds of unsynchronized feet moving behind me.
Currently, there were more than just Ogres marching.
There were thirty non-combat personnel.
This is how it all happened.
“…The next training. Already?”
Corps Commander Dyle handed me the map and ordered us to move.
“This training involves escorting non-combat personnel to your destination. You must avoid obstacles along the way and take them there safely.”
That’s what he told me in the morning when I was heading to the training grounds. We hadn’t been given any advance warning.
“Escorting non-combat personnel, eh?”
I looked down at the map.
My instincts were telling me that this would be very bad.
I didn’t know the land at all. That was the biggest problem.
He said that there would be obstacles, but we wouldn’t know when and where they would appear.
They were fully prepared, and we had to move through unfamiliar territory.
It didn’t seem fair at all.
We just weren’t prepared for this.
Had I known a day earlier, I would have gathered my men together and thought of a plan.
However, I was only told just now. And we had to head out immediately.
After all, the non-combat personnel were already here.
“We have to leave right now?”
“Yes. If it was just you, you’d be able to reach your destination in half a day, but it will take longer for them. So you should leave early.”
“I suppose that’s true.”
I looked at the non-combat personnel.
All of them were from races that weren’t suited for fighting.
Not only that, but some of them were children.
While this was training, was it really necessary?
“Corps Commander Dyle.”
“It seems to me that one of them is combat personnel.”
“He will monitor and guard. I actually planned to have a few people go with you, but this one should be enough.”
“A second layer of protection…huh.”
Among the group of delicate and weak looking people, there was one that stuck out a lot.
It was General Miralda’s Adjutant, Halm the Crystal Dragon.
Why was he here with the non-combat personnel?
To be honest, he could single-handedly destroy everyone here.
So why did we have to escort him?
But I suppose it was possible that the non-combat personnel could get caught up in a battle, and Halm might be the last line of defense.
Dyle had said that he was also there to monitor us.
This was training after all, so they did need someone to monitor the whole thing.
“…Very well. I’ll gather my men and we will leave at once.”
“I’ll be going on ahead so I can wait for you at your destination.”
I watched Dyle leave and quietly let out a sigh.
You couldn’t set all of this up and expect me to not notice.
There would be some kind of ‘reception’ waiting for us on the road.
“Traveling while protecting non-combat personnel, huh…”
This would be a lot more difficult than protecting a base.
“Let’s go over here.”
Not long after we departed, I moved away from our course and into some grasslands.
“What’s the matter, Golan? Did you eat something bad?”
“Shut up, you two idiots. Just follow me.”
As it was too much trouble to explain it, I just forced them to change course.
“I don’t mind that. But couldn’t you at least tell us the reason?”
“Yeah! It’s discriminatory!”
It was times like these that Beka liked to use words that I taught her.
Even though she barely understood them.
“This way is fine. And more importantly, keep your eyes on our surroundings. We don’t know when we might be attacked.”
I had split the twenty Ogres into two and had the non-combat personnel in the middle.
After all, it wasn’t like the enemy would only attack from the front.
According to the map I received from Corps Commander Dyle, there was one checkpoint before we reached our destination.
This was probably put in place so we wouldn’t go off course in order to avoid any attacks.
However, we were currently moving away from the road towards the checkpoint going around it.
So it was no wonder that Saifo and Beka were alarmed. But there was a reason for this.
(…They’re judging our ability to read maps as well.)
I wasn’t sure why, but the map I was given had contour lines.
With a normal map, you couldn’t tell how far the foot of a mountain spread out, the height, or if you could cross it.
I did think that the foundation for such maps being made existed in the Demon World.
But I hadn’t expected to be given one here.
And according to the map, if we went straight to our destination, we would hit both the cliffs and the mountain.
If we tried to go around them, it would naturally mean moving along an ‘S’ route. Which would make it easier for the enemy to attack us.
After all, the invasion route was all but decided.
I troubled over this for a while, and ended up choosing a route that avoided the cliffs and the enemy ambush point.
(Normally, we would be stopped by the cliffs while making our way to the checkpoint. But judging by the spacing of the contour lines on the map, there is another cliff on the right side, so that’s where we’ll go.)
You could go to the right side and around the cliff.
However, it was also a good place for the enemy to hide.
They would have a good view of you, and yet you wouldn’t be able to see them at all.
If I were the enemy, I would definitely be waiting there.
Not only that, but there was even a narrow escape route in the back.
So they could ambush us and escape if things turned sour. It really was a perfect place.
And so even if it meant taking a longer route, I would assume that there would be an ambush, and instead, attack them from their escape route in the back.
Once I decided to change our course, Halm the Crystal Dragon looked at me silently, but I ignored him.
“From here, it will be just us Ogres. The non-combat personnel will wait here. Also, don’t make any sounds from this point on. If you do, I’ll punch so hard that your jaw will fly off!”
They could at least say ‘Yes, sir.’
And so we breathed lightly and moved without making a sound.
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