We slowly went down the winding road through the gaps in the boulders.
Not a sound was made. I would not let them make any.
If I had guessed correctly, there would be soldiers up ahead.
Judging from the map, there really was no other spot that you could hide soldiers.
(Of course, this depended on the map actually being correct.)
It would all be over if it turned out that the map was fake, and realizing it was part of the test.
We might be the ones who ended up being ambushed from the back.
In war, an advantageous position could change everything.
We were twenty Ogres who were supposed to protect thirty non-combat personnel as part of our training.
(But since all of them wouldn’t be able to fight, there would likely be an equal number of soldiers waiting to ambush us.)
If we were ambushed by the same number of enemies, we would probably lose.
But I wanted to defy their expectations with an overwhelming victory.
The soldiers should be visible after we turned the next corner.
I stopped just before reaching it. The others all stopped as well.
Then I slowly raised my right hand, which I used to hold my weapon. The others followed.
We were currently holding clubs.
We had been told that we could only use wooden weapons for this training, and so I chose something that was both heavy and easy to use.
Wooden spears had more reach and looked advantageous at a glance, but when you weren’t familiar with your surroundings, you couldn’t count on the enemy attacking from the front.
Spears were long and might end up hiding your comrades or the non-combat personnel. And so I had decided against using them. No one was wielding a spear.
Wooden swords were also an option, but they weren’t as durable.
They would likely break after a few swings when wielded by an Ogre.
And so I had decided to use the simple but most appropriate weapon.
Out of our options, the clubs were the shortest.
On the other hand, they were thick and heavy.
It was like the trunk of a tree had been used to make them, and only the handle was thinner than the rest. It was very rough and almost looked like a hammer.
However, it would be easy enough for the Ogres to swing with them.
And so we raised the weapons above our heads and dashed forward.
I wasn’t sure if it was my voice or someone behind me.
However, everyone joined in the harmony, which echoed loudly around us.
When we turned the corner, the enemy was there as expected.
They were Mezukis. Taller and stronger than Ogres.
And while horses were cowardly herbivores, these guys were different.
They had the agility and toughness of horses, but they were a vicious race. They would be a very formidable enemy.
The reason that we had charged while raising our clubs, was so that we would be sure to get in the first hit.
We wouldn’t raise it and then swing down. We would just run towards them and then swing with all of the force of our momentum.
My first hit landed, and a Mizuki’s head caved in.
Yes. It was almost too much power.
Of course, it was already known that people would die and be injured during this training, so I didn’t think about it.
And I quickly moved on to my next prey.
The reason why the enemy were slow to react was because they were all wielding bows.
It seemed like they had intended on ambushing us with arrows and then charging with spears.
And while their arrows didn’t have metal heads, the power of a Mizuki would ensure that they were still deadly.
So I was glad that we had come in from behind.
The Mizuki reacted to us by raising their wooden shields, but we were already too close.
I had taken down three of them by this point.
And my fellow Ogres were good at this kind of chaotic battle.
They gladly swung their clubs into the enemy.
After about half of their number had gone down, the person who appeared to be their leader shouted ‘we surrender!’
This had been decided in advance. If one side shouted this, the battle would be over.
Had we shouted it instead, it would have meant failing, even if the people being escorted all survived.
“Alright. All of you, stop fighting!”
As they were used to it now, they all obeyed immediately.
The Mizukis all threw their wooden spears onto the ground. I could see that they were well trained.
“Bring the others. It’s now safe here.”
Before the others arrived, I looked at the Mizukis.
After fighting them, I saw that as individuals, they were indeed stronger than Ogres.
But as the battle had been so chaotic, I didn’t know how good they were as an organized group.
Also, I now saw that there were a total of thirty of them.
Why did they outnumber us? Why?
“This is your training. I cannot answer any questions.”
Said the leader as I looked at them with disbelief.
“No questions, eh…?? Well, nevermind. How about a little chat?”
“I heard that Mizukis were brave in battle. I guess I was wrong.”
It was a little provocation. I wanted to hear his answer.
“We had planned to attack you as you followed the cliffs. And so we were unable to react in time when you came from behind. No, perhaps it was because we had to change our weapons.”
It was as they finished changing their bows for spears that we were already upon them.
I see, so they were originally going to scatter and rely on each individual’s strength.
However, they ended up having to fight here, in a much narrower space with spears. And then he realized that there was no way to regain the advantage, and so he surrendered.
“It wasn’t the wrong decision.”
Perhaps it was because he was brave, that he also knew when to withdraw.
Still, it was strange.
Preparing thirty of a race that were stronger than Ogres, and having them ambush us.
It was ridiculous. There would be no way for us to stand against them.
We’d be annihilated and it would be over.
That seemed a bit harsh for something that was only training.
It was so astonishing that I thought about it for a while. And then the non-combat personnel arrived.
I had to stop wondering and think about what to do from this point on.
Surely this wasn’t the only obstacle.
Could we really reach our goal while protecting these people?
Halm looked down at the Mizukis lying on the ground, and then he looked at me.
It was clear that he wanted to say something.
However, I was the one that wanted to grab him by the collar and ask him what was going on here.
Of course, I knew that it would be pointless.
“Alright, get back in line. There shouldn’t be any more ambushes until we reach the checkpoint. Let’s go.”
“Hm? Golan. How do you know that there won’t be any more ambushes?”
“According to the map, there are only cliffs on the left side and mountains on the ride. There is nowhere for soldiers to hide.”
“Huh…what do you mean?”
“I can’t bother to explain it. Let’s just go.”
Saifo wouldn’t understand if I talked to him about contour lines. And it would be a waste of time.
And so we moved on both sides of the non-combat personnel and started to march.
On the way, Beka said, ‘There really are mountains and cliffs on the sides. And Golan was able to tell without seeing them.’ She was very surprised.
As expected, there were no more attacks, and we reached the checkpoint safely.
Here, we did a head count of the non-combat personnel.
Of course, they were all there. Not a single one was missing.
We were told that we could leave our wounded there if there were any, but I refused, as there were only a few people who had scratches.
“Alright, let’s go.”
Now there was only a mountain between us and our goal.
We would have to go around it.
And as we walked around the left side of the mountain, I started to hear voices coming from the far back.
“Is it an attack?”
I could hear the sounds of bending trees coming from the gentle slope to our left.
Clearly, this time the enemy wasn’t trying to hide.
“The enemy is waiting for us up ahead.”
I had sent scouts up ahead, and it turned out there were soldiers there as well. Was it a pincer attack?
“How many? Which race?”
“Mizukis. About the same number as us.”
They really didn’t want us to get through this training.
The enemy in front would likely attack us the moment they heard us fighting.
It was a good thing I had sent out scouts.
However, the situation would only get worse if we stayed here.
If it was only us, we could probably make a desperate charge and open a path through them. But we had people who couldn’t fight with us.
So that was not an option.
“All of you, listen to me!”
And so I told them my plan.