Part 1

Kurono’s eyes followed the wheel tracks as it kept on extending from under his feet as towards the forest. Dense grass grew which reached the point that the tracks were covered halfway spreading towards the Dark Forest.

The forest which spread between the border of the Cepheus Empire and the Holy kingdom of Argo was known as the Dark Forest.

The Alpine lands possess natural earth defenses and are inhabited by numerous Ferocious beasts such as the wolf and the brown bears. Since ancient times it was known that a demon lurks in the darkness of the dark forest, Due to which many people avoid detouring through it. The Wheel tracks leading through here can only mean that a merchant took this path to avoid paying tolls and to save time to reach the next city.

Kurono lived in the territory of Marquis Erachis belonging to the Cepheus Empire, which had high tax and Due to the toll fee being high many merchants had to cut their profits here. Taking risk for profits was a merchant’s way of thinking as they wanted to increase their profits.

It could also been seen as the Holy Kingdom of Argo invading the Empire but taking the risk into consideration he was unable to understand their intention. Being on bad terms both the Kingdom and the Empire had skirmishes on their borders but seeing the tracks,

(Could the Kingdom have launched a large-scale invasion force?)

If it was what he was thinking then in case of a surprise attack, the Empire’s forces should have mobilized their forces so that their comrades and the General’s could escape unharmed.

『………~hmmm!』

He felt something moving inside the forest. Kurono reflexively grabbed the hilt of his sword, but there were no reactions from his 700 Demi-humans subordinates.

He didn’t had an elf at the moment who could be considered a specialist of the forest but the majority of his Beast-men subordinates took pride in their sharp sense of smell and hearing.

Kurono relaxed sheathing his drawn sword, believing in his comrades senses. The truth was that he wasn’t good at fencing even though he had drawn it from its sheath on reflex.

Not only was he weak at fencing but even at Equestrianism (Horse-riding). Therefore he usually moved on his foot, even though he didn’t want to abandon his comrades and his superiors.

His superior Marquis Erachis had stated him to buy time until reinforcement arrives, but according to the scout’s report the Kingdom troop’s numbered 10,000 whereas his troops numbered just a mere 1000.

The differences in the military forces were 10 times more than his…….. In what way was it considered fine? Anyone could say that it was a state of checkmate for him.

The lives of Kurono and his subordinates were in a precarious state not to mention that their morale had hit the bottom after confirming the scout’s report.

Since most of his subordinates were Demi-humans it was not possible to get a hint about their expressions due to their beasts like face.

Since Kurono was the commander he wanted to increase their morale even a little so that things could start going on a bit smoother.

Unfortunately he had just graduated from the Military School and had no combat experience going as far as to leave as the “Irregular of the Military School”. It was thanks to his teacher’s prostration that he wasn’t held back or he would have trouble graduating even normally.

He made the effort to get them luxurious meals and liquors last night thinking that it might uplift their morale even a little but it backfired as most of the subordinates took it as there last meals in this Empire.

『Is taisho alright?』[sfx bu mo~]     {Breath of Minotaur}

『Sorry, I seemed to leak shit』

Kurono anxiously asked his aide as it seemed his expressions leaked.

『 … … taishō 』(mo~~~~)

His aide stared at him with his pitch black eyes, seemingly sad. The Aide “Lieutenant” was a Demi-human having a head of Cow called Minotaur. A height exceeding two meters, his body was covered in steel like muscles.

『No, I wanted to show some composure…..but』

By nature his aide had a weak mind; disliking Quarrels it was insane to even be a battle commander. Feeling that his stomach was becoming heavier as the time passed even a slight sphincter might have opened it spewing his guts out.

『Why did you became a soldier?』[Sfx bu mo~~]

『I was told that being a noble itself required being a trained soldier.』

The dark grey nose full of rings swung sluggishly. The ring was a magic item that was imbued with the magic for interpretation, as the vocal cords of the Demi-humans were different from that of humans without it, it wasn’t possible to communicate.

『Won’t it be a good time to escape? Furthermore what will you gain by supporting us “Demi-humans”.』 [bu mo~ go fu go fu]

『…….So it was like that』[ne…]

Demi-humans consisted of beasts like Minotaur’s, elves and dwarves. It was usually pointed that they were not humans and they had no right to live like one. They were mostly shunned as a being which was less than that of humans.

Dating back in times long ago, humans being a race of large numbers enforced there rules on the Demi-humans pushing them downwards in their social hierarchy. But now in order to expand their regions they needed the required force and hence had been using them in place of their own soldiers.

In the Empire everyone had to serve the military for a fixed period of time, and it was compulsory for the Demi-humans to gain the citizenship of the Empire. In case of a mortal injury if someone had to be put back from the front lines they revoked their citizenship in that case, making it hard for them to get any other jobs without citizenship.

Nevertheless the Empire was far better than the kingdom whose goal was the complete eradication of the Demi-humans.

Thinking from the prospect of the aide, except the part of nobility Kurono had no obligation to even be there he could escape and start anew.

Kurono could see victory for his troops.

『Leaving behind one’s subordinates, it’s no good escaping alone you know..』

『…….taisho did you hit your head? Are you seriously saying that now? 』

His aide was amazed while Kurono was smiling wryly.

『Of course I’m serious never even in my dreams will I abandon my subordinates and superiors』

『……』

This time the aide was loss at words.

『I don’t intend to die in the first place』

『I don’t think a hastily improvised fence can stop the enemy』 [bu mo bu mo]

Saying so the aide looked at the fences standing in a row. The fence was placed a bit far from the forest. It was about 3 meters high and the lumber was as thick as Kurono’s thigh. It was installed at regular intervals so a person could pass through it.

『Are you sure won’t a guerilla warfare be much suited due to our differences? 』

『I thought about it but we can only repel them in that case. 』

Saying so Kurono set his eyes on the forest looking for any movements in them.

He had originally planned for guerilla warfare to get time, but now was a good chance to march on the opponent because if the forces of kingdom make it out of the forest it would be impossible for him to compete given the military difference.

『Unless I can repel it』

The forces of kingdom will loot and plunder for food and treasure eliminating the Demi-human populace.

It’s because of their national religion.

Kurono spat at his words.

 

 

 

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