Episode 22: Resolve and Determination.
After scouting the bandits at the windmill, Yamato’s group returned to Urd Village.
“Ok, now I’ll briefly explain the situation.”
After gathering all the elderly people in an open space in the village, Yamato started talking. Since this was an emergency meeting taking place after dinner, children were not allowed to participate.
Yamato had managed to get close to the windmill without being noticed, and was reporting to everyone about the information he had gathered.
“The bandits are planning to attack Urd Village in five days.”
“No way, in only five days…”
The villagers were restless after hearing about the impending attack.
Everyone here already knew that there were suspicious people wandering close to the village.
However, they never thought the other party would take action so soon.
“The number of bandits is quite large. The village will have no way to repel them if they attack.”
“How could this…”
“If so, the village will…”
The scale of the bandit group was bigger than what Yamato thought. Not many of them looked skilled, but that didn’t matter with a group of that size.
And without a proper defensive perimeter, Urd Village wasn’t a place suited for a defensive battle. If it were to become a battlefield, their numbers would overwhelm them.
“They were working together with a slave merchant. Apparently, they attack remote villages to catch and sell the children. Everyone else is killed.”
“They kill everyone else…?”
“How can they, to sell children as slaves…”
The sorrowful voices of the villagers echoed in the square.
When he infiltrated the windmill, Yamato noticed that children from other village were captured inside. According to Liscia, she believed they were inhabitants of the neighboring grasslands based on the description of their clothes.
Yamato heard the bandits say that the slave merchant would come pick up the children four days later, and that they will attack Urd Village the following day.
They planned to kill every villager other than the children, and take all the valuables, such as livestock and anything important.
They were laughing as they spoke about how easy of a job this would be.
“That’s the report.”
Yamato explanation ended there.
After that, they started to discuss together with all the villagers present, about what actions to take.
“We can try to surrender and give them all our possessions, maybe…”
“Were you not hearing what he said? They plan to kill us all…”
“Maybe we should abandon the village and settle somewhere nearby while they leave…”
“No, we cannot, they might return after we come back…”
The villagers were noisily debating as they threw ideas.
They tried to come up with plans to survive and save the village.
“But right now, we’re just a village without adults…”
“Even though everything was beginning to return to normal…”
However, the discussion kept moving in a straight line. And eventually it ended up going into a pessimistic conclusion.
It was true that the village didn’t have the presence of adults, who were supposed to be the most reliable existence in a village. This was just a village surrounded by mountains and located basically in the frontier, so there was no place to run away to.
Being ‘checkmated’ perfectly described how the villagers felt.
Everyone eventually turned silent at such a bleak situation.
“Can I say something? Village chief.”
“Of course, Yamato-dono! “
Surrounded by such a dark atmosphere, Yamato raised his hand to speak.
All the villagers turned their eyes towards him at the same time. He hoped he could say something to break the current situation.
“Why does nobody think about fighting to defend yourselves? Why not try to survive by trying to defeat the bandits? “
“That would be murder…”
The village square fell once again into a heavy mood. As if touching upon a taboo subject, criticizing voices rose.
I knew this would be their reaction…
It was an expected response.
After all, most of the ‘fighting power’ in the village was the group of crossbow-armed children.
Since last autumn, they have mastered the use of the crossbow while hunting, and their expertise had risen considerably.
Also, thanks to the efforts of the old blacksmith Gaton, the crossbow was already spread to everyone.
Although, having the disadvantage of not being able to be fired continuously, its destructive power was tremendous, and the accuracy and ease of its training were also on a different level.
And when used in combination with the shield vanguard, fighting in close quarters, which was its biggest drawback, could be solved.
Maybe even in interpersonal combat they would be a force to be reckon with.
Besides, adding to the forces in the village was Yamato and Liscia, with her new Marionette Bow.
The elderly people, with their weak physical strength, couldn’t be counted as a fighting force.
In other words, they must have thought of his proposal as something like 『We can survive if the bandits are murdered by the hands of our lovely grandchildren』.
They were their families, even if not everyone was related by blood. They were troubled about how to feel about that.
“I won’t force you. Before dawn, tomorrow I’ll leave the village and head towards the windmill.”
Saying so, Yamato left the meeting. In order to get ready for tomorrow morning.
Morning already, huh…?
As always, Yamato woke up before the sun had risen.
He washed his face in the small stream, feeling refreshed.
His breakfast were leftovers from last night’s dinner.
He was going to walk through forest and mountains for several hours. Therefore, eating mainly carbohydrates was a good choice.
I wonder if this much is enough?
After finishing breakfast, he made the final checks on his equipment.
Water for the road, preserved food, and the equipment he deemed necessary were packed. He tried to bring only the minimum.
Well then… next would the ‘that’ right…?
He wore his usual hunting equipment.
His crossbow and a few of specialized bolts. He also equipped several knifes for self-defense.
This is just a hunting tool… it is for security… no, that’s wrong. It is a weapon, for taking people’s lives.
He corrected himself as he tried to make excuses.
This world wasn’t so forgiving. Sometimes, in order to save someone’s life, you had to take your opponent’s.
『Wait! Let’s talk this through』Such words would be instantly ignored by the enemies.
He knew how cruel and brutal those bandits were, since he had seen the ‘miserable sight’ inside the windmill.
“Ok… I should go now.”
He left the single-story house where he lived and headed towards the outskirts of the village. He left no note or letter.
He was sure he would come back. Even if his opponents were arrogant and brutal murderers.
Regardless of his improved physical abilities, he knew he would be at disadvantage.
He wasn’t as adept at killing as they were. Even if he could overwhelm his opponent with his fighting ability, there might be a moment of hesitation in his mind.
And that hesitation sometimes could be lethal.
“But, I have no choice but to go…”
He had already made his resolve.
As he advanced, a shadow further ahead could be seen.
“Liscia-san… Village Chief… Gaton jii-san… everyone…”
Waiting for him in the outskirts of the village were the people of Urd.
The village children, as well as the granddaughter of the village chief, Liscia. The village chief, along with the elderly people. And the Mountain Clan Gaton and his grandchildren.
“You guys, those…”
He was lost for words.
The residents of the village were all armed and gathered just a little outside the village.
When did the decided to get ready to fight and gathered together?He wasn’t aware of it and didn’t notice beforehand.
No, perhaps… He then thought he might have been too excited and didn’t pay attention to his surroundings. It was probably decided in last night’s meeting.
“Yamato-dono… I showed you a disgraceful sight last night. We people of Urd have our pride. Let us go together with you! ”
Every older villager had a weapon, including the Village chief. Those among the elderly villager who could move relatively well were all armed.
Although they lacked strength, their eyes shone, lit by a fighting spirit.
“Yamato-niichan, you’re so sly to try and leave us behind! ”
“Even us, we can already take care of ourselves! ”
While carrying a crossbow each one, the boys in the village said as they looked at him with confidence.
They knew if they were caught and sold by a slave merchant, their lives would become miserable.
“I’ll protect Yamato-sama’s back.”
Liscia said to Yamato as she confidently smiled with her Marionette Bow in hand.
Her figure was like a goddess appearing in myths, divine and reliable.
Yamato’s heart was shaken as he beheld this unexpected sight.
He had felt like he couldn’t completely trust everyone in the village. But this showed him that he still had a long way to go.
“It’s going to be a tough and bloody battle.”
“We’re prepared for that, Yamato-dono.”
“『Become strong so that you can live』right……? Yamato-niichan.”
“No matter where, I’ll follow you Yamato-sama…”
Everyone nodded at his words. Their determination was seen in their strong gazes.
“Good… then, let’s go.”
And like this, Yamato led every person who could move in the village, and left in order to ‘remove’ the bandit group from the windmill where they had settled.