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Chapter 014 – Galtia [A]
It was some time after the sun had set and night had fallen.
They were in the meeting hall of the mushi settlement. There was a heavy atmosphere hanging around this room, which was usually used by the influential people of the settlement to hold assemblies.
“—What are you going to do about this, Galtia!!”
There, the elder of the mushi users settlement was yelling at the head of the settlement, Galtia.
Galtia listened to his words in silence. His expression didn’t move at all, to the point not even his eyebrow moved regardless how much he was criticized.
His attitude made the elder frustrated even further.
“Hey, are you listening?! If you can’t do it—“!
The leaders of the settlement had gathered there, and one of them decided to raise his voice and interrupted the elder who was trying to continue his sermon.
“…This isn’t the time to blame Galtia for this. The problem is—“
“…Fuhn, about what we have to do from now on, right? I know that.”
Perhaps it was due to the words of the leader or because the elder was reminded of their current situation; he calmed himself down a little after acknkowledging that person’s words.
The elder threw one more glance at Galtia before he snorted and turned to face everyone else.
“We have no more time. We need to decide on the future of the settlement as soon as possible.”
“Yes, that’s right. …Galtia is also fine with that, right?”
One of the other leaders asked Galtia for confirmation. While Galtia might be the person who was responsible for the current situation, none of that mattered to him. He was someone who always tried to support Galtia.
However, Galtia merely nodded after saying a few words. This was unusual for Galtia, who had a bright and cheerful personality.
The settlement leaders also thought that this change was due to Galtia feeling responsible for all this. As such, nobody blamed him.
“Then it’s time to decide. We have two choices. That is—to fight or to escape.”
One man slammed his hand on another’s desk when he heard the chairperson’s words. He spoke with an expression filled with bloodlust.
“Of course we will fight!! We still have soldiers left! There are still many mushi users here! If we just recruit soldiers from the village…”
“…What are you talking about? That isn’t a joke. Of course, we have to escape. In the first place, do you really believe that we can still win against the Demon Army even if we gathered new soldiers?”
“Galtia is still here! I can still fight! Are you telling me you’re abandoning the town?!”
“Some things are more important than the town, right! … We’ve also depleted our stockpile of food, so we can’t fight even if we have the soldiers for it.”
The man who had insisted to fight to the bitter end grew speechless as his arguments were beaten back by the glasses-wearing man who was sitting opposite to him.
Looking around, the other settlement leaders were also leaning towards the choice to escape, and they were all nodding firmly.
The man didn’t want to give up. This land was their homeland. He didn’t want to abandon it. However, he didn’t know what to do.
The elder called out to him as he trembled in dismay.
“I understand your feelings. But we can’t fight anymore. What we can do is escape to reduce the casualties to the settlement’s people as much as possible. We have to think about that.”
He agreed to the elder’s persuasion with a heavy tone. The other settlement leaders all nodded together when they saw that the matter was settled.
—That was, that they’ve decided to escape. What they would have to think about moving forward was “how can they escape?” Even though the Demon Army had withdrawn for the time being, their patrol was still there. They might decide to give chase once the mushi users showed signs of escaping.
Also, they didn’t know where they could flee to.
They all had miserable expressions. Even so, they still kept racking their minds on how they could resist this harsh reality.
Whether he noticed the heavy mood or not — as expected, there was one man who stood up.
“—Sorry, I’m leaving for a bit.”
“Wha… Galtia! Where are you going?! Sit down!! We’re having an important—“
“…I’ll be back soon.”
That man was the head of the settlement, Galtia. He left the premises, ignoring the Elder’s attempt to stop him.
The settlement leaders around them were also surprised by his sudden actions, but nobody tried to stop him.
Because they saw the strong determination dwelling within his gaze.
The Elder gnashed his teeth at Galtia’s brusque attitude. Because of this, the meeting could not proceed. The elder reluctantly declared as such to the leaders.
“…We’re having a break until Galtia returns. I’ll also go out for a bit.”
The Elder said this before moving to leave. At this, the other settlement leaders looked at each other, nodded, and then left the place one by one. It might have been late, but they figured they should still go out and meet the people they cared about.
—Either way, today might be their last day.
—Really, that Galtia… What’s with that attitude!
The Elder, who was roaming around the settlement at night to get some fresh air, felt indignant at Galtia’s attitude.
If only he’d managed to repel the Demon Army to begin with, then we wouldn’t be in this mess—was what he was thinking.
Based on the elder’s mental calculations, they could still continue fighting for around half a year. Their food supply should allow them to fight for that much longer if they scrimped. Though in order to do that, they would have to inform the settlement’s people about it and force them to comply, which was something he didn’t want to do.
If they endured just a bit more, then the Maou should come out soon. In fact, according to the testimonies of fleeing soldiers, there were reports that an incredibly strong majin appeared. If Galtia managed to defeat that majin, perhaps the one who would appear next would be the Maou.
…However, that was a futile hope. Not only had Galtia been worn out by the enemy majin, they even allowed him to escape on purpose. It wasn’t like Galtia was unable to fight against this majin, but he wouldn’t be at full strength. Although even in that state, there was no doubt that he was still the strongest mushi user in the settlement.
That was why they had to think of a plan to escape. However, how could they escape?
A few dozen people might be able to escape from the area without being caught, but in this situation, the whole settlement population needed to escape. There were about 20,000 people in total. It would be a mass exodus. There would be a lot of complaints already if they announced that they would need to abandon their settlement. The fact was that they would still have to pack their belongings, and that most of the people were civilians who never had any training. Additionally, there would be women and children amongst them. There was no way the Demon Army wouldn’t notice such large-scale activity.
They would most likely get caught in the Demon Army’s security perimeter. If they discovered their attempt to escape, the majin would also lead their army to chase them. The mushi users already had no more strength to fight. Even if they could resist for a while, it would be over once they engaged with the Demon Army.
Therefore, they would have to do it in a way that the Demon Army wouldn’t notice it — no, even just delaying discovery would be plenty enough.
…However, they couldn’t come up with any ideas. It might be best if there was a some sort of disturbance within the Demon Army’s camp during the right moment—
As he was thinking about that, an idea came to mind. It was a devious idea.
—Just make Galtia do it. It should be possible for him to go alone into the Demon Army encampment and cause a ruckus there. In the meantime, everyone else could just escape.
It was an outrageous plan, but it couldn’t be helped since it was the only way to save the people in the settlement. It was either him alone or everyone else. It was natural to forsake a few to save the many.
However, if that plan was executed, then there was no doubt that Galtia would die. No, that wasn’t the problem. Would Galtia even agree to such a plan to begin with?
He never knew what Galtia was thinking about. It has always been like that. Nothing could ever break his frivolous facade, and he was always good at evading and dodging.
Besides, the elder has always had a hard time dealing with him. Would he listen to a command that basically told him to die? —Nay, there was no way he would.
No matter how kind a person was to others, they would still prioritize themselves when the moment to choose came. This wasn’t just about Galtia; it was the natural way of things.
Then what should he do? What must he do to make Galtia act as their rear guard, so that he alone would use his body to stop the Demon Army…?
“Mu…? Isn’t that…”
At that moment, the elder came upon a figure.
It was a child. The elder recognized him. It was the boy who often accompanied Galtia.
He was walking down the empty street while looking down.
If he wasn’t mistaken, that child was an orphan whose parents died during the war against the Demon Army. Apparently, he has no relatives. It was a rare situation for mushi users, as they usually had many family connections.
That child was also the only one who stuck with Galtia, who had been on good terms with his parents. Galtia also didn’t seem to treat him badly.
An idea rose within the Elder’s mind. It was an idea that likely would send his soul to hell.
It was one thing to shove responsibility toward a warrior who also happened to be the head of the settlement, but could he force such a role on an innocent child—?
…But fortunately, the boy had no family. Nobody would be saddened if he was gone. Even if there were people who would be, their numbers would only be few.
Galtia and the boy. If he could use both of them to save the whole settlement—
The Elder made up his mind; he approached the boy from behind. He called out to him as gently as possible, so as not to make him frightened or dismayed.
And then he began to tell a distorted truth.
It was already late at night.
Within the Demon Army Headquarters, which had been constructed on a wasteland, there were two demonic existences.
One of them was Majin Leonhart, the driving force of the battle from earlier. He was currently in front of Maou Ssulal — both of his knees were touching the floor.
“—So, do you have any excuse?”
“…I …have none.”
He was sitting in a seiza position.
Leonhart was forced to reflect on his own actions.
…Well, it was definitely my fault though.
I won the battle against the mushi users, against Galtia. No, it was more like I ended up winning.
I understood why I ended up like this. I was having too much fun while fighting.
The target, Galtia, was also very easy to talk to … No, he was a good guy. He was also very strong.
His swordsmanship was quite remarkable too, and his ability as a mushi user was also mind-boggling. I honestly didn’t intend to suffer any wounds, but the variety of breathtaking cooperative attacks that Galita and his mushis used managed to wound me anyway.
Those things incited me a lot, and I got too excited.
It seemed that if I were to face a strong person with a sword then I miiiighht have a tendency to go overboard a bit. It felt really pleasant and fun. It also stimulated my instincts, but I was sure I could still control it within reason.
However, I got tempted by thinking just a bit more, a little more, another five minutes, and the fight ended up getting drawn out.
While we were in the middle of it, I watched Galtia sort of discipline a young mushi user who had rushed in. I read the situation and realized that the battle was already over.
At that time, I mentally panicked. The settlement might have really ended up falling at thatrate, so I tried to buy myself some time to think by randomly spouting excuses to show my willfulness as the demon general. Then, I forcefully made them withdraw. What a shitty boss I was.
And now, I was being forced to sit in seiza by my boss.
From her seat Ssulal looked down on me past her crossed knees.
“…By the way, you’d told me they would withdraw in an hour. It’s already night though?”
“…I, I did say something about that”
I looked away. Who said that? I didn’t know anyone who would say such a thing.
” …It still hasn’t ended yet.”
“…It happens sometimes.”
It has been said that luck mattered in things sometimes.
“…I wished to see you in action.”
Ssulal muttered in disappointment. I took some mental damage.
Damn it! Why did I say such an embarrassing thing!
I was embarrassed, but managed to give Ssulal my excuse.
“… I did tell him about it at least, so I think there’s some hope on that front, but…”
“Ah, considering Galtia’s personality, he’ll probably come.”
“…Hm. You’re right.”
Ssulal was convinced by my words and she relaxed.
It seemed that she was no longer angry. I slowly rose up, but she didn’t comment on it.
—However, I still needed to say it to show my resolution.
“I’m sorry about this. I did go too far. If he still doesn’t come despite this, then you can just do as you like.”
I apologized to Ssulal once again. Just do what you want if I fail to execute your command. I said it with that in mind, but Ssulal shook her head.
“I won’t do anything to you… ah, but since you offered, how about you accompany me when I practice my cooking?”
I yelled when I heard that. That was something I just couldn’t do.
What’s more, since she said it was for cooking practice, it meant I would have to taste it over and over, right? —I would have to taste her cooking many times.
As I sighed, I realized the fate that awaited me.
“—I guess I’m going to die.”
“That’s rude!! It won’t be that bad!!”
Ssulal was angry that I talked smack about her cooking and turned away. Considering the taste though, it couldn’t be helped.
As we were engaging in our usual banter — someone called out for us from outside.
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