Chapter 16 — The Captain of the Royal Knights is supposed to have a fiancée…9
The day after Ruth told Jio about the situation in the village, the villagers promptly held the yearly demon hunt strategy meeting. Since the meeting took about an hour, shops would be closed during that time as all the villagers gathered at the church. Usually, there weren’t many people attending the prayers at the same time, so the hall ended up being jam-packed. Ruth stood by a corner of the church and watched as his father, Rossa, and his mother, Celine, went up the simply-made platform at the front.
The village chief, who was standing next to Maxim, took a step forward and everyone in the church instantly went quiet when Father raised his voice from the wing of the platform.
At that signal, the village chief started his yearly customary speech. After that slightly meaningless speech ended, they finally got down to business.
“Currently, we have estimated that approximately twenty-five demons will come out in this year’s demon hunt.”
Shortly before the demon hunt begins, the village’s strategies revolve around investigating the possible number of foes and planning their countermeasure. The demons would collectively gather from the other side of the mountain about half a month before the hunt. Afterward, they would all head towards the village. It was very systematic almost as if they were controlled from the shadows. At first, the village thought that the demons were led by something, but until now they didn’t find clues about that.
(Only twenty-five this year… it’s surprisingly low…)
It seems like there were a lot of villagers who had the same thoughts as Ruth as the inside of the church suddenly became noisy. The number of demons increased every year and there were almost over 40 demons last year. Despite that, there was only a bit over half this year. Of course, everyone would be wary.
“Chief, isn’t that too low?”
Rossa, standing on the platform, spoke on behalf of everyone’s concerns. The village chief nodded deeply.
“I also thought the same thing as everyone here. However, our estimation did not change despite numerous investigations. And so, we have come to the conclusion that there are only about twenty-five demons this year. This is surely the fruit of everyone’s efforts for driving the demons away without being injured every year.”
The village chief seemed to be satisfied with his assumption and kept nodding his head. He then announced the composition of the demon horde.
For this year’s degree of hazard, there were about fifteen E-rank demons, eight D-rank to C-rank demons, and two B-rank demons. There was an overwhelming amount of E, D, and C-ranks last year, but this year there’s even two B-rank demons. Even though the overall strength has dropped, it is not a formation to take lightly of.
“There’s a lot of strong demons this year…”
“Riiight … Alec isn’t here, will we be alright?”
The village chief loudly cleared his throat after hearing the scattered voices of the villagers chattering around him.
“Because the number of villagers has slightly decreased this year, many here must be uneasy of our strength decreasing. But, please be at ease, someone in the Royal Capital knew of my worries this year and sent us their wonderful assistance. Let me introduce Maxim Calafanti, the Captain of the Capital’s Royal Knights, and five of his most elite knights.”
At the village chief’s introduction, Maxim’s crew stepped forward and the inside of the church immediately became noisy. As expected, the Captain of the Royal Knights title had quite the strong influence and the villagers’ anxious expressions instantly disappeared. It seems like there were a lot of villagers who haven’t seen them yet and so now that they met for the first time, they were filled with excitement as if they were watching a heroic display.
(But, the way he said that… it sounds like it was the village chief who called Maxim and the knights over…)
The village chief’s words made it seem as if because he had expressed his concerns to that “someone in the Royal Capital”, he was able to recruit Maxim and the knights to the village. Truthfully, Alec was indeed in the Royal Capital, so the chief wasn’t wrong when referring to him as “someone in the Royal Capital”, but he purposefully said it in such a roundabout way. But it wasn’t a blatant lie, so Ruth couldn’t call him out on it either. As expected, the village chief really was a sly fox.
“Together with the village’s best men, they have taken upon themselves on the role of the surprise attack force.”
The surprise attack force was a unit that Alec and Rossa were part of, up until last year, that would attack the highest level demons from behind. Because the weaker demons usually headed straight to the village, the villagers would hold down the fort from the lower rank demons and drive them back. Then, the role of the surprise attack force was to defeat the higher-ranked demons while they had their guard down.
There wasn’t anyone who openly opposed what the village chief said and one could even hear the relieved sighs in the church. Everyone must have been worried about the fact that Alec wasn’t here. It seems like knowing that the Royal Knights will take over the role that Alec used to have gave them a glimmer of hope.
“Everyone else’s positions are roughly the same as last year. I will post everyone’s respective roles in the center of the village square, so please start preparing in the afternoon after confirming your positions. Let us protect our land and drive out the demons without any casualties this year as well!”
While the church was filled with enthusiasm, Ruth’s shoulders dropped when he heard the village chief say, “the same positions as last year.”
Just past noon, in the middle of many villagers bustling around in preparation for the demon hunt, Ruth was walking with Maxim as he led him to the center of the village.
“Oh, my apologies for all the trouble. But, the fact that Lady Ruth is guiding me around makes me overjoyed.”
“Haha…that’s good to hear.”
The village chief bluntly said to Ruth, “In any case, you must surely be free” and told him to show Maxim around. In reality, it’s not like Ruth had to set up the watchtower or build traps, so in a way, one could say that he’s idle. But of course, he still had to put up with it being said so bluntly straight to his face. Despite that, just for a bit, he felt soothed by seeing Maxim in such high spirits.
(Maxim really is always smiling.)
It felt like his smile now is more radiant in comparison to when they first met. In addition, Maxim is always happily smiling when Ruth calls out to him or even when he calls out to Ruth. For Ruth, who has been in a slightly difficult position in the village since Alec left, he was simply glad that the number of people he was able to have a normal, friendly, conversation with has increased.
At this rate, perhaps Ruth could even secretly attend the swordsmanship lessons that the Royal Knights have been looking forward to one of these days. If that happens, maybe it’ll even surprise Alec when he comes back.
“Nonetheless, everyone is accustomed to the fact that a group of demons is coming, huh.”
“It happens every single year after all.”
“Certainly I had thought that everyone would just pick up a sword to defeat the demons, but I did not imagine it would be as far as to set up such large-scale traps and tactics to exterminate them.”
“It’s because if we fight with swords, it puts the pressure onto everyone’s individual abilities, thus increasing the number of casualties. Then it just becomes something that only skilled people can do.”
Although it’s referred to as the “demon hunt”, the Hashi village’s countermeasure against the demons is closer to extermination with large-scale trap-like devices.
For the first group of demons, because many of them are low rank and have low intelligence, they would fall into a ditch and from there the villagers would set it on fire. Against the second line, since many of them are large in size but slow-moving, a row of catapults and wagons with thick spears attached to them and mechanisms allowing them to be sent flying would be launched towards the demons. Until now, more than 90% of the enemies would be defeated just by these devices.
“We have a variety of traps, but we alter it little by little every year so that the demons don’t catch onto a way to counter it. We don’t know if they have the intellectual capabilities to use that information, but it would be a serious incident if they were to break through the traps.”
“Why, just hearing about it is pretty incredible. My apologies for saying it like this, but I never would have thought that such a small village would develop battle strategies to this extent.”
Maxim exited from the village’s storehouse, where he saw the catapult being under maintenance and nodded with deep admiration.
“Everything was Alec’s suggestion. Since it happens yearly, he understood how the demons moved around as well. Through that, he racked his brains for a more efficient and safe way to fight, talked with the village chief about it afterward, and then built the catapult.”
“… As I thought, he really is an amazing young man.”
Yet again, Maxim was hit by the realization of how incredible Alec was. Truthfully, even though Ruth had memories of his previous life, he didn’t think of using this sort of weapon as a way to fight against the demons. That’s also why Ruth thought that Alec had a cheat when he proposed the idea of using a catapult. Well, in reality, he had the cheat power of a hero anyway.
“By the way, the fact that we own such large scale weapons is also recognized by the Royal Capital so please rest assured.”
“That is without a doubt… but no one else in the Royal Capital would think that it would be like this.”
“…Um, could you keep quiet about it for us? It’ll be troubling if they confiscate it away.”
“Of course I will keep silent.”
Ruth held up his forefinger in front of his mouth and Maxim softened his gaze and did the same thing. When Ruth saw this, he thought that Maxim isn’t only just earnest, but also understanding. He’s truly a good person. When it comes to the higher-ups, someone who’s this wholesome shouldn’t exist.
(Even though we did the same gesture, what is up with this sex appeal overflowing out of him…)
Although it was a refreshing sight to see, what Maxim did had this strange sensuality to it. The village women passing by stumbled when they saw Maxim, so by no means, it was something only Ruth felt.
Ruth lightly cleared his throat and continued with the conversation to change the mood.
“The remaining demons are the ones with either high intellectual capabilities or magically powerful. There’s always two or three of them every year and this alone is enough for an all-out war with the villagers.”
“And so, this is where we come in, yes?”
“Yes, truthfully you will be heading towards the remaining demons while we deal with the first group of demons.”
As a result, Maxim and the knights will be doing something completely different from the villagers. To begin with, letting a B-rank demon get close to the village is very dangerous so it’s necessary to defeat them earlier and keep them far away from the traps.
“Was this what Sir Alec did every year?”
“Yep. Alec would bring along my dad and other skilled fighters, but generally, it would be Alec who deals the most damage.”
According to Rossa, because Alec’s skills were that outstanding, they mainly acted as support and extra relief to the best of their abilities and felt as if they weren’t much help.
“…Sir Alec sure did have an impactful role in the village. You must be proud of your ‘best friend’.”
“Yes. I heard he was incredible. He even slew a super powerful demon like the baal and also reflected against a magic spell a demon cast! I wanted to watch it up close too~.”
Ruth is also a man. Of course, he has the desire to see people who are strong with his own eyes. Especially because Alec’s is so incredibly powerful. He couldn’t even get jealous. However, even when they went out hunting together, encountering a B rank demon was rare enough so being unable to see something so impressive was a shame. He was sure he wanted to see stuff like magic being reflected in real life.
Ruth excitedly talked while imagining Alec’s overwhelming power that’s the equivalent of a game protagonist and Maxim loudly started to clear his throat.
“Maxim? Are you okay?”
“Ah, my apologies, my throat is a bit dry. More importantly, what is Lady Ruth assigned to do? I was thinking of asking you to take me there to see.”
“Ah…what I’m assigned to do, huh…”
Ruth dryly replied after being asked something he didn’t want to talk about. However, Maxim didn’t notice and looked at him with a gaze full of expectations, so with a small sigh, he began to speak.
“The thing is, I don’t have an assigned job…”
“It’s not like I have nothing to do, but I mainly do stuff like chores or moving packages…”
Ruth didn’t have any work assigned to him during the preparation period of the demon hunt. That’s because he received a dismissal notice from the men in charge of the weapons and defenses preparation team that said, “He looks weak anyway, he’ll only mess things up.” The women responsible for the food preparation and distribution also said, “We don’t need any men,” and drove him out. In the beginning, he tried his best to show off his strong points for any sort of job, but he gave up after three years. He knew that if he did anything wrong, he would only be a bother to Alec and Rossa, who served as the main forces of the hunt.
As a result, Ruth had nowhere to work and would sometimes be told to help out with the chores by the women, mainly involving transporting heavy ingredients. He could return to the inn, but there’s nothing he could either since the majority of the guests would leave and Celine was there so when he returned with nothing to do, she just drove him out saying, “Go help out.” Ruth thought of himself as some sort of nuisance1 , aimlessly wandering around like an unwanted stray dog.
However, he noticed that Maxim was looking at him with an expression full of pity when he talked about it.
“Ah, but it’s pretty fun. Because I get to see all kinds of work others are doing, if I feel like progress is going slowly, I could call out to someone to help out. Doing stuff like competing by myself for what’s the fastest time I could carry a bucket of water to improve work efficiency…”
“Lady Ruth… such a thing…”
Ruth meant to follow-up by talking about the details, but Maxim’s facial expression became increasingly clouded for some reason.
Of course, he knew what Maxim wanted to say, but it was meaningless for Ruth. On top of it, Alec wasn’t here this year to give him some chores to do either so obviously, Ruth looked more and more like he had absolutely nothing to do. That’s also why he was slightly grateful when the village chief asked him to show Maxim around.
“Ruth, c’mere for a second~”
As Ruth felt sweat forming at the uncomfortable silence, he heard the women doing the food preparation call out to him. It must be about helping them out with carrying ingredients.
“Ah, well, I have to work now, so excuse me. Please feel free to look around the village.”
“…Yes, thank you.”
Leaving behind Maxim, who had a complicated expression, he quickly ran towards the villagers.
MARY: Haha long time no see! I’m alive!! Somehow uni and real life just consumed me and by the time I had free time I was in a huuuge tling slump. Either way, I think I’ll be okay and I’m getting back into the groove of things. I hope everyone has been safe and healthy. Take care, you guys ‘3’ !!
Let me know if you see a mistake and, as always, support the author here!