Chapter 31 – We Freed the Prisoners with Numerous Torches!!
As we advanced through the dark forest, Melk came up to me.
“Sir Joshua, the human house is just up ahead.”
“I see. Thank you for telling me.”
Indeed, just a little farther and we would be out of the woods.
I could already see the night sky through the trees.
And then Iria said to me,
“Sir Joshua. What will you do now?”
“Surround the fortress. That is all.”
“Aye. That is really it. And thankfully, we have the cover of this darkness. Wiz, gather together the slimes.”
I called, and Wiz gathered them as I said. There were about three hundred in all.
“Now, go and distribute these torches. Two for each person.”
I said as I handed the slimes some thick wooden sticks.
And then they started to pass them out to the other races. It kind of looked like how people carried buckets while trying to put out a fire.
And these weren’t ordinary branches. They were torches that had coal bound to them.
Of course, as I had suddenly taken out over a thousand torches, everyone looked at me in surprise.
Well, even I hadn’t known that I could fit so much into the magic workshop… But as for the torches themselves, I was able to make about a dozen in one second.
“Now, the slimes will take two each and surround the area from the west to the north. And can I ask you Ents to go east? But Wiz and Ecleshia will come with me.”
Wiz nodded immediately and then moved its body to give the orders to the slimes.
The slimes then held two torches with their bodies.
It was a strange sight indeed…
Ecleshia nodded after a moment.
“…It is to free our comrades. We must bare it. If we must, we will carry ten torches instead of two.”
“Thank you. The more the better.”
“Is that so?”
“Aye. I’ll make more now.”
And so I immediately started to mass produce the torches.
There was a limit, as we didn’t have that much coal, but now there would be five torches per person.
There were two hundred Ents. And so that meant that a thousand torches would be carried.
Together with the slimes, that would be one thousand and six hundred.
I felt like the others were a little put off by how many torches I was pulling out.
“Good. That should be enough. I’ll light them, and you can distribute them.”
I then used fire magic to light the surrounding torches.
And then those with burning torches then went around and lit the other torches.
In the meantime, I turned to Iria and Melk.
“The Kijins and werewolves should be sent to the south. With the prisoners as well. And after we wait a while, I want you two to follow me.”
There were three-hundred and fifty Kijins here, and five hundred werewolves. They each carried two, so that made a thousand and seven hundred…
In other words, with everyone together, we would be carrying three thousand and three hundred torches.
However, as if to put a stop to this, Melk, who was now in the form of a small wolf, asked me a question.
“Don’t we need weapons too? Can we really fight with these fire sticks?”
“It will be fine. We won’t be fighting. In fact, we must not fight. No matter what, we must retreat in the southern direction.”
Upon hearing these words, Melk and the others look puzzled.
However, Iria answered with an ‘I understand,’ and the others nodded and moved into action.
When we cleared the forest, I could see that torches were being waved from the fortress as well.
So they must have noticed us.
However, at this point, they would still be assuming that we were Barnish and his men who had returned.
Not in their wildest dreams would they have thought it was demihumans.
As we continued on, I could see torches spread out from the east and west as well.
And then the torches on the castle began to move around frantically.
After watching for a while, I counted that there were around twenty torches moving.
So there really weren’t that many after all. A hundred at the most.
As for us, we had over three thousand torches.
Well, even our actual numbers were above theirs.
It was then that I made one of the prisoners walk with me as I headed to the castle gates.
And I also had two golems walk on either side of me.
They had an overwhelming presence. That would come in hand in the upcoming negotiation.
Furthermore, Wiz, Melk, and Iria also accompanied me.
And I had given Iria a bow and arrow.
“Iria. Can you handle a bow?”
“I did train with them, so I should be fine.”
“I see. This is quite an important role. When I say, ‘Iria,’ I want you to shoot at the person who I’m talking to above the gate. However, do not actually hit him. But if possible, I want you to just barely miss the shot.”
“If that is your wish, Sir Joshua, I will do it exactly as you say.”
We then reached the fortress, but the gates were closed.
“Wh-who are you!? Where did this army come from!?”
A voice rang from the walls.
When I looked up, I saw that a stout man was standing up there.
I could only see him vaguely, but he must be Cobis.
“I am a special envoy of the demihuman…of the Fendel Alliance!”
“It is a demihuman alliance that was formed in order to oppose you slave hunters! Now, you will release every single demihuman prisoner in that castle! Or else, we will attack with our army of ten thousand!”
“Te-ten thousand!? Th-th-that’s not possible!?”
“Not possible? How many tribes have you attacked up until now!? This sea of fire that surrounds you now, it is the burning wrath of hatred towards you! The foolish Barnish was swallowed up by these very flames!”
I shouted back. And then I looked at one of the slave hunter prisoners and told him to speak.
“Lo-Lord Cobis! What he says is true! Lord Barnish and over two hundred soldiers were annihilated in less than ten minutes! And now, this fortress is surrounded by ten thousand soldiers!”
Cobis fell silent after hearing the words of the slave hunters.
After all, three thousand torches were surrounding him.
At the very least, he could tell that they were at an overwhelming disadvantage.
I continued to shout.
“Now, what will you do!? Release everyone and leave these lands… Or will you choose death!? Perhaps I should have these golems destroy the gates first!”
‘Wa-wait!’ Cobis shouted with a quivering voice. And then he fell silent.
Judging by his attitude, it was clear that there were not many men inside.
Right now, Cobis was likely thinking about how he could get out of this alive, and without losing his wealth.
Our demands were the release of the slaves, and that they leave these lands.
In other words, we were not demanding any gold.
So his best option was to release them and take his money.
Cobis finally opened his mouth.
“…Fine. I will release them! They will be left here in the fortress, but you must allow us to escape first!”
“We are not here to listen to your demands! Open the gates and release the demihumans immediately! We will then send in our own to make sure that everyone has escaped! You will accept this, or you will not… That is all!”
It was also possible that he would kill the imprisoned demihumans before escaping.
And so I had to let him know that we could still kill them whenever we wanted.
Upon hearing this, Cobis paused for a moment and then opened his mouth angrily.
“V-very well. I will accept… But you will keep your word?”
“I should be asking you that. But just you try. If you suddenly shut the gates or conceal something… We will kill you in an instant… Iria.”
I said, and then Iria unleashed the arrow.
It cut loudly through the air and towards the top of the walls. Cobis let out a shriek.
“I-I understand! Stop that! I will accept all of your conditions! …Open the gates and release the prisoner! All of them! Release all of them!”
Cobis shouted in despair.
And then the gates were opened.
And the demihumans came walking out one after another.
Iria, Melk, Ecleshia and the others all made sure that everyone from their tribe who was missing was there.
When it was done, Melk went around the fortress and sniffed to see if there were any prisoners left who hadn’t been released.
It took about half an hour in all. And then Iria reported to me.
“There is no doubt about it. All of them have been freed. Well, except those who died…”
“I see… I wish we could carry their bones, but there is not much time.”
I had noticed that the sky was starting to turn pale.
“The results are better than we could have ever hoped for. Let us go.”
And so I turned back to the castle and shouted.
“Have you released all of them!?”
“Wi-without a doubt! All of them!”
“I see. In that case, it is now your turn. All of you must come out of the fortress!”
“Wa-wait! We are not prepared yet! We cannot return to our homeland without food!”
“That’s not our problem! Iria!”
I said, and then Iria unleashed another arrow.
“Perhaps we should just attack you!?”
If I was being honest, I did want to just kill them all here.
However, I didn’t want any of our people to die.
While there were not many, I could see something like a ballista on the ramparts. We couldn’t do anything reckless.
“We will come out! We really will!! Please! We’ll never come back here again!”
“…We demihumans are not as foolish as you. But we will believe you just this once. All armies, draw back!”
I shouted, and the torches that burned in every direction began to draw back to the south.
Cobis banged his head on the wall repeatedly and shouted ‘Thank you!’ over and over.
With that sight at our backs, we returned to the south.