Chapter 248: Unexpected Sound
I wrapped my fingers in gloves, squeezed them several times, and bent my fingers. When I let out a sigh, the temperature outside was so cold that I could see a white mist. Unknowingly, my shoulders trembled.
While trying to hide myself from the cold, I rang the hooves of the war horse loosely and proceeded along the road with the soldiers. Today, even the horses’ hooves were quiet. The soldiers also seemed to lack strength and tension.
It couldn’t be helped either. After all, I was not going to the battlefield or training today. All I had to do was go to the city of Philos to receive supplies and exchange information.
The purpose was to take the soldiers and escort me to the city. I was pretty disappointed, since I would be fine by myself and with my chewing tobacco. Besides, it called unnecessary attention, which was probably the reason why I had to take them with me in the first place.
Bandits would not be foolish to go up against a small but well-equipped army. In addition to that, it was the cold season, which meant roaming demon beasts. It wouldn’t be wise for the bandits to wander around.
Besides, the soldiers had been training in the campaign for a while, and the days of continuing to be vigilant continued as well. However, in the Heraldic camp, it was impossible to relax with the wandering eyes of Saint Matia. I wanted to take a break even if for a short time.
I tried to speak with my freezing throat while stiffening my cloak on top of my military uniform.
「So, Ann. What’s the name of that collaborator? 」
Riding on the same war horse, I leaked some words to Largud Ann, who was swaying from behind while holding my back. The voices of the soldiers walking around were lively, but the dry air smothered their tone.
I wondered if she was wearing a scarf or something similar. Ann returned the words in a muffled voice.
「Yes. It’s Roseau, the representative of the People’s Assembly Hall. I heard that he is a person who speaks well.」
Ann added that he had a good reputation amongst the citizens of Philos. But he was a person who could only speak.
From what I’ve heard, the city of Philos was able to use only a small number of troops during the Battle of Sanyo because of Roseau’s cooperation. It seemed that he did it for the sake of the city. On the other hand, I’ve heard that people paid him a reasonable amount of money.
However, the words “could only speak” hurt my ears.
After all, it was similar to what I used to be. And I was sure I had used my tongue a lot to this point. I couldn’t deny that I used my tongue to incite people and take them to the battlefield.
When I thought about it, I felt sympathy for the human being named Roseau. I heard that he would come to meet us to hand over the supplies. If I had the chance, it would be a good idea to have a drink with him. Unexpected stories may also emerge cheerfully.
「Have you met him, Ann? What kind of person is he? 」
I felt a sign when Ann nodded behind the words that spilled from my lips. She seemed to be very vulnerable to the cold. Her voice had a slight quivering feel.
「Well, I’ve only exchanged words with him a few times. Hmm, you see, I wonder if we can trust someone that moves with gold coins.」
So, he wasn’t a person whom we could trust from the bottom of our hearts. When I tried to ask more about him…
Behind, from a great distance. I heard a sharp sound of something hard and heavy tearing through the sky. Then, after seconds, the sound turned into a squeaky crushing sound. Moreover, that crushing sound burst in my immediate vicinity. My ears shrank in the cold.
The sound was neither the sound of trees bending in the wind, nor the sound of a wagon wheel breaking apart. Undoubtedly, it was the sound of blood and flesh crushing and splattering around.
When I looked sideways, a soldier’s neck, which was holding his spear beside me, was crushed immediately. I became speechless just by looking at it. A fist-sized stone was rolling on the ground, smeared with blood. It was not a natural occurrence. It was a stone bullet that had been crafted by human hands.
In an instant, the air got filled with tension. The space itself was so heavy that choked me.
Because of the sudden threat, the war horses and the soldiers all stopped moving. The sound of humming through the wind was heard from behind.
My voice echoed through my skull without letting any thoughts pass.
「…Don’t stop. Run or you’ll die, run! 」
At the same time as I rang my throat, I pulled the reins of my horse. The moment they heard my voice, the soldiers reflexively moved their feet. If we didn’t run, we’d be killed by the stone bullets that fell from behind. We were good baits for the ranged weapons, such as soldiers who had stopped mid-ways.
What was happening? While giving instructions to my soldiers, questions emerged in my brain. I didn’t know why we were being targeted on our backs. I didn’t even know where or who was pulling that attack on us.
Nonetheless, someone was certainly hostile to me and the soldiers now. That was for sure. The foe was even using a rather noisy means of throwing stones.
Wind noise and its destructive power. You could not just grab it with your hand and throw it. First of all, I was sure they were using a catapult that used strings.
Unlike bow and arrow, the stone throwing lost great accuracy, but its murderous intention was real. Stone throwing was a clear weapon with both speed and repeat killing. If done well in the wind, it would even penetrate iron armor easily.
For a few times, the sound of cutting the hollow hit my ears. At the same time, I could hear the sound of soldiers collapsing and the sound of the surrounding trees crushing. The sound itself sounded very heavy.
Fortunately, however, it seemed that those who were throwing stones were not so good at it. At the edge of my eyes was an occasional stone bullet flying into the woods, which was terribly out of balance.
Originally, stone throwing was far superior to bow and arrow in a sense that it was easy to handle even for amateurs. From that point of view, it was often used more favorably by bandits and militias than by regular troops. Perhaps, because of this, it was extremely rare to see a well-trained stone-throwing unit.
The moment I thought so, a terrible cold touched the edge of my head. It was so cold that the surrounding chills were incomparable with this feeling. I had a very, very unpleasant imagination in my brain.
Catapults were used by bandits and militias at best. However, would bandits and others alike attack soldiers who were auspiciously armed?
There was no such reason. If I were in the opposite position, I’d take the initiative to point my spear at an unarmed person or exposed wagon. Why were the bandits attacking soldiers instead of robbing unarmed people?
Well then. This was not a plundering act in search of supplies. It was a fighting act with a clear purpose and murderous intention.
…Now, who, and which forces, would try to attack us?
There were no bandits. If it was the Great Holy Church’s troops, their bows and arrows would crush us much more efficiently than throwing stones.
If so, then there was only one remaining force in the vicinity. In other words, the militia in the autonomous city of Philos.
It seemed foolish to think about it. Would they have a reason to do it? Why? They wouldn’t dare to be hostile to us or the Heraldic religion.
Rather, the city itself would die if it engaged in a fighting act now amid the cold season. That’s why it was foolish to think they would try to harm us now.
「Grab on to me tight, Ann. 」
The war horse roared. I bent down and rushed to the scheduled confluence point, trying to escape the roaring sound of the sky that approached from behind.
I felt something close to chills running on my spine.
Thank you to the Patrons for the continued support!