And so I was forced to leave my masterpieces.
After all, I was heading towards a battlefield.
Farewell, straw hat, float, and fishing net.
I won’t ever forget you.
“Rig. Gather my men together. Immediately.”
I dashed into my house, but it was empty.
“Oh, right. They aren’t back yet.”
Rig was still on his way from Demon King Tralzard’s country.
Of course, he wasn’t here.
“…Oh, well. I suppose I’ll do it myself.”
I could send people to the other Ogre villages.
How many would I need? Since we’ll be merging with Saifo and the others later, one hundred should be enough.
So I should have twenty people come from each village.
“Hey, gather a few people from this village together.”
When they arrived, I told them that we would be going out to fight.
“I’m taking twenty people from this village. Same with the others. As it’s too much trouble, it’ll be on a first-come-first-served basis. Whoever wants to fight, come with me.”
They were very honest. Well, they just didn’t think too deeply about anything.
‘Fight? Yeah, I’ll go!’ That’s all it was.
The matter of food supplies could be left to the non-combat races. The problem was travel.
“We’re supposed to meet the others in a northern town…”
I had never been there before. Could we reach it without getting lost?
If Rig were here, he would probably send out scouts and secure a safe route, which also happened to be the quickest one. But he wasn’t here.
“Well, I have a rough idea about its location, so that should be enough.”
I had traveled north of the castle once during the battle against Lesser Demon King Leninoth.
The northern town would be close to that area.
Three days passed after gathering my men.
All together, two hundred and twenty-one Ogres had been gathered from the villages. That number included me.
They all carried their belongings and weapons, which were very simple. It wasn’t really how one would look when going off to war.
However, if used right, they could be very effective.
“Alright, let’s go and fight!”
Did they really understand? I wondered.
While I did feel a little anxious, we traveled up north while choosing the wider roads when we could.
I made a wrong turn at least twice. Amusing blunders, that’s all.
Additionally, there were roads that were blocked due to landslides, and crossroads with no signs. As always, the roads in this country were not maintained.
Still, we walked like this for seven days.
And then we finally arrived at our destination, the town of Gluka.
“There are so many soldiers here.”
I hadn’t known that General Farneze commanded so many.
Now I had to go and announce our arrival.
Usually, I would have sent Rig to do it, but it was my job now.
“I’m Golan, Commander of this corps under the General. Please tell her that the Ogre Corps have arrived.”
Among the battle races, Ogres were considered difficult to handle.
Ogres weren’t weak, but they had trouble understanding difficult strategies, and were not quick to adapt to changes. That made them tricky.
They did well when made to defend or charge into bases, but if you gave them a purpose but allowed them to move freely, they would act like a group of mad men.
And so it was likely we would only be given simple orders.
I grabbed one of the non-combatants who looked like they had nothing to do.
He resembled a lemur, but I wasn’t sure what they were called.
“What can I do for you?”
“We just arrived. Tell me the latest news.”
Judging by what I could see of the camp, there were not many soldiers who were hurt.
But as they were clearly not recently wounded, they were likely soldiers who had been fighting in the previous battle with Kyuka.
“We’ve just discovered Kyuka’s army, however, we still do not know if the Lesser Demon King himself is there. It’s being investigated as we speak.”
“And where was the army sighted?”
“A place beyond the mountain right in front of us.”
“That’s quite far.”
A huge mountain rose ahead of us. It would take days for an army to get past it.
“As the situation is unlikely to change for some time, the state of alert has been lifted.”
“I see. Thank you.”
“I must go now.”
As long as Kyuka only had one army, things would be quite simple.
We just had to fight and crush him.
“The problem is, what if he’s gone off alone.”
The last time, he had attacked the castle with a small group of men while the two armies clashed.
In other words, Kyuka was capable of surprising us in battle.
Just because his army was there, we could not let our guard down.
“I wonder what General Farneze will do.”
Well, it had nothing to do with me.
“Would you happen to be Sir Golan?”
“I am. Why?”
It was a young Flying Eagle. He had flown here, looking for me.
“General Farneze wants to see you.”
“…? I see. I’ll go at once.”
What could it be?
I doubted she had decided where to place the Ogres, when we still didn’t know how Kyuka would move.
Still, perhaps she was thinking of doing something with our little corps?
“…Hmm. Surely not.”
There weren’t enough of us.
While Saifo and Beka were on their way, it would still be around two hundred.
That wasn’t enough to accomplish anything important.
“It’s Golan. I’ve come at your request… Huh?”
I poked my head into the tent.
General Farneze was the only one inside.
There were no Adjutants or Corps Commanders.
“I’ve been waiting for you, Golan.”
She gestured for me to sit. And there was a smile on her face.
“I just remembered, I have urgent business…”
“Where do you think you’re going? Come back here.”
“Uh, I need to use the bathroom.”
“I can’t hold it…”
“I don’t care.”
Alone with the General in a tent.
A smiling General.
The atmosphere could not have been any more ominous.
And my intuition about such things had improved a lot recently.
Was she going to send us out on some suicide mission?
We would all die.
“I have a plan that I want you to carry out.”
If it was too unreasonable, I could just beat her through Gekokujyo.
Could I do it? I thought I could.
…No, maybe not. After all, I had not seen the General use her full power.
“What is it?”
“…No, it’s nothing. What is this plan?”
I had just remembered something. This was the moment before a battle.
Nothing good would happen if I fought Farneze before the battle against Kyuka’s army. I could not do that. At worst, I might have to take control of the entire army.
“As for this plan, you will have to carry it out alone.”
So, was it reconnaissance?
“I’m going to attack without holding back, and so I want you to flee with everything you got. As for where you should run; Kyuka’s army.”
What did she just say?
“I want you to enter their camp by yourself. And you will seek an audience with Kyuka. And then… Well, you know.”
Yes, you want me and Kyuka to juggle bean bags for fun. I understand perfectly.
“No, I don’t know!”
“You don’t? I want you to challenge him to a duel.”
What I didn’t know was ‘why!’