Ochitekita Ryuuou to Horobiyuku Majo no Kuni: Volume 1 Chapter 2
Chapter 2: A Battle of Witches and Humans
Running into the village, Naga and Lela saw several witches gathering in an open space, inside the fortification and making the smoke signal. Harrigan was standing in the center with Ais, who was making the smoke. Despite Yuuki running before them, she was nowhere to be seen.
“Ane-sama , what’s the matt-er?” “Lela? You guys are surely late.” “That’s because we were deep inside the fores-t.”
Lela told the lie calmly.
Her urge of wanting to learn more about other worlds, was it perhaps a matter of highest priority, which she couldn’t tell Harrigan? Naga was in admiration of her huge thirst for knowledge, at the same time, he was dumbfounded at Lela putting her desire before her friends, even if it was just a little.
Still, presently, Lela was the only one to know about him peeping. Whether she would expose him or not, depended solely on her. Naga could only feign ignorance.
“A pigeon messenger was sent from the first fort. It seems that an army of humans is closing in.”
Lela had a bit of a surprised face, yet her expression didn’t change and asked.
"Did you ask….. where the army comes fro-m?" “Hmm, they are troops of the Cassandra Kingdom. According to the message their number isn’t more than 200.” “That’s a large number for a reconnaissan-ce unit.” “True, the problem lies there.”
Making a serious face, Harrigan continued speaking.
“Until now, they have checked the terrain directly under the fort, dealt with it by climbing the slope, and received our attacks only to run away. – This was the routine that they keep repeating. If they really have decided to deploy as many as 200 soldiers, it probably means the Cassandra kingdom is finally serious about capturing this fort. We too have to prepare for this.”
Rather than asking the nearby witches for an explanation, Naga should probably talk to them about it, which will let him grasp the situation by himself.
“Right now, the ones at the fort are Selena and De-e?”
As Lela looked around at her friends’ faces, Harrigan shook her head as if saying 'good grief'.
“Just a while ago Yuuki returned, but once I told her that Naga went to the forest, she said that she didn’t want to see him when he came back and left.”
Using her elbow, Lela occasionally jabbed Naga’s side.
“That was quite lucky, wasn’t i-t?” ”It…seems so.”
Seeing both Naga and Lela exchanging a conversation between each other, Harrigan became concerned, still, she made up her mind thinking that it wasn’t the right time for that.
“My other daughters have probably seen the smoke signal and are coming back, but it’s not possible for me to call back the ones that stationed inside the other forts. I can’t exclude the possibility that human soldiers might reach the other places.”
Also, Harrigan added only to herself.
(I have to pay attention to the movements of the other witch clans as well.)
“For the time being, we can only depart with the people we have now. Please hasten your preparations.”
Once Harrigan ordered, the four people that were in front of her run away from the open space like rabbits.
Even Ais, who launched the smoke signal said.
“I too, should prepare for the battle.”
Saying that, she left the space.
“I will also prepa-re.”
After Lela left, only Naga and Harrigan remained.
Looking over the place where everyone had left, she sighed.
(Recently, the human forces have become quite active. Can we push them back like we have until now….? No, it’s not the right time for pondering over that. I have to make preparations as well.)
Seeing that Harrigan was about to leave for the residential building, Naga called her to halt.
(Ah, that’s right. I completely forgot about him.)
Once she turned around, her sight met Naga’s.
(Well then, what should I do? I can’t certainly bring him to the battle, so..)
Toward Harrigan, who had a thoughtful face, Naga said something unexpected.
“It seems that there’s going to be a battle. At any rate, won’t you take me with you?”
“I told you already, but I want to return the favor of a night’s lodging and a meal. If you, who rescued me, are going to fight, then of course I’m going to help you.”
Despite saying so, there was no tension on his face. At that point, Harrigan decided to give him a warning.
“It will be dangerous.”
“I’m used to fighting. I can’t recall many details, but there is no doubt I have experience in war thanks to countless battles. That’s why, you don’t need to worry.”
“……Is that so. Indeed, leaving you alone here will be much riskier.” “I’m thankful for having you worry about me but…”
Harrigan shook her head as if she were saying 'that’s not it.'
“Rather than worrying about you, I’m more worried on whether you'd assault the children that are left here or not.” “About that?! That’s what worries you?!”
Harrigan reciprocated with a stern expression at Naga, who shouted.
“Suddenly falling from the sky, then groping and rubbing a person’s breasts. Don’t you think it is natural for me to be worried about my daughters by leaving you alone?” “Ugh”
Naga moaned and became stiff.
“N, no, that’s, you see, how should I put it, after being thrown into an unknown world, wouldn’t you be confused, bewildered, or agitated? Don’t you think? Anyone would act unpredictably after ending up in such a situation.” “So while being confused you jumped straight onto my breasts and groped them?”
Harrigan looked at Naga, who had a cold sweat while becoming stiff, with her cold eyes.
He suddenly bowed down.
“How should I say it...it's because your breasts were charming so I suddenly wanted to grope them.”
Harrigan spouted a light laugh unintentionally.
“That’s because they had a nice shape, a nice tone, and were big. They were the kind of charming breasts you wouldn’t think to exist in this world. Having such splendid things in front of one’s eyes, if it’s any man, anyone would want to touch them, grope them, rub them. I mean, there’s no man that wouldn’t do it. That’s why….” “Ah… I get it. It’s fine so be silent. Hearing you makes me feel embarrassed and unable to stand still.”
Despite her interrupting Naga, Harrigan, who was red faced, didn’t seem to be that displeased.
“Setting that aside.”
After coughing once, Harrigan returned back to the original topic.
“If you say you want to come, that’s probably fine.”
(Well, I don’t think you will become much help, but…rather than saying so)
Harrigan narrowed her eyes and stared at Naga.
“Don’t become a burden.”
Naga threw out his chest and replied.
“You don’t have to tell me that.” “Then, come with me.”
In front of Harrigan’s residence, Naga waited for her battle preparations to be done.
Of course, he was wearing the clothes that he had since he came here, however, despite wearing his own clothes, Naga couldn’t wipe the strange feeling of missing something... (As expected, with my left side being empty, it doesn’t feel right. I wonder if I can have my weapon back.)
While moving in front of the building without any calmness, the door opened and Harrigan came out.
“Sorry for making you wait.” “No, I wasn’t waiting that… long!?”
Seeing Harrigan’s appearance, Naga couldn’t hide his surprise.
She wasn’t wearing any armor or helmet. What she wore was long ancient clothing, similar to the one before. In addition, she was carrying on her back some kind of cloth toolbag and besides that, Naga was unable to find any other changes.
Rather, if one was to take a closer look, it seemed that the long skirt she wore became thinner in comparison to before. Furthermore, the notches in her skirt’s hemp were much higher and reached her waist area. Her seductive bare legs, which peeked from the gaps between the notches, were no different, however, its area increased. The area around her neck was covered, but since the material that did so was thin, her bulged chest became much more emphasized, which gave out a nice feeling. It wasn’t the outfit of someone that is now about to go to battle at all, or at least it wasn’t possible for Naga’s common sense. With this, won’t she sustain a lethal injury if she becomes hit by a single stray arrow?
Not with surprise, but rather with a dumbfounded face he runs his sight over Harrigan’s body. Once he did so, she noticed his sight and directed a stern expression at him.
“Hm? You, even though we are about to set out for battle, you are still obstinately appreciating my chest? Aren’t you quite composed?”
Naga shook his head as if saying, 'that’s not it!'
“You too, despite us going into battle, how can you wear that outfit?”
Being told so, Harrigan looked down at her body.
“Hm? Is there anything weird?” “Yes! Why aren’t you wearing armor or something like that? At this rate, you won’t be able to fight with swords. Far from that, won’t you die being shot with a bow?” “…Ah, so it’s that?”
Harrigan finally understood what Naga wanted to say.
“I still haven’t talked to you about magic in more detail yet.” “Magic? Is it somehow related to that thin outfit?” “It does. Magic is our way of fighting.”
Making a dubious face, Naga cocked his head in puzzlement.
“In other words, we neither fight with swords or bows against the humans on the frontline. That’s because metal diminishes our magic power. It becomes a hindrance when using magic. That’s why we don’t wear metal armor and carry metal-attributed weapons. As for clothing, we will only wear the thinnest ones so as not to obstruct our magic power as much as possible.”
Naga still tilted his head with a curious face.
“In case we needed to make the most of our magic, being nude would be the best method, however, there’s no way for us to do so? Because, already wearing this thin outfit…..hey, you.”
Having a lewd look on his face, Naga hurriedly returned back to himself.
“ W, what? “ “Just now, weren’t you thinking about indecent things?“
- shaking shaking*
Naga shook his head left and right with all of his power, nevertheless, Harrigan still directed a look full of suspicion at him.
Trying to somehow return to the main topic, Naga threw a question.
“Then, how do you intend to fight?“ “Well, you’ll understand it if you see it.“ “Is that so? Well then, I’ll allow myself to observe and learn slowly. Well leaving that aside, you aren’t going to say that you plan to attack with only the people that was on the open space, right?” “I didn’t say so.” “I think you’re right.”
Naga breathed a sigh of relief.
“Some of my daughters should come running from the forest.“
– Some!? Then, even if we joined together, wouldn’t we be less than 10 people!?
“I too, am thinking about wanting to have just a bit more people.“
Naga had a mixed expression between amazed and miserable.
“Hey, a war is about numbers rather than quality. There are about 200 enemies right? And you intend to fight them with having just 10 people?“ “It can’t be helped. That’s because we only have this much fighting power.“ “Has it always been like this?“ “That’s right.“ “You have been quite able in repelling the enemy’s offense. “ “That’s because you don’t know about our strength nor our method of fighting. ” “You seem to be quite confident. “
Harrigan slightly smiled. Was it a smile of being proud, or was it a self-mockery? Naga couldn’t judge that.
“Despite that, presently we are holding back the humans’ invasion with all our strength. Because their numbers seems to have increased a little this time, according to our reconnaissance, there’s a chance that it might become a real battle. I feel a bit anxious about that. but well, if it’s just pushing them back, we can somehow manage. “
Naga held an expression that said that he still didn’t understand.
“Once you see it with your own eyes, you will know.“ “Ah, got it. I’ll carefully watch your gallant figure.” “Well then, it’s fine for you to tag along.“
Naga called out to Harrigan, who said that with an appearance full of confidence while turning her back.
“Speaking of which, Harrigan. The weapon which you took away from me, won’t you return it to me?“ “Hm, is that so? That’s right. It will be bad to have you tag along to a battlefield without a weapon. All right, wait there. I’ll bring it back to you right away.“
Harrigan went into the house and brought back Naga’s weapon in her hand, which was hidden inside her study.
Receiving the sword from her hand, Naga put it gladly on his waist belt.
“Ohh, this is it, this. As expected, without this guy I won’t be at peace,“ “Fufun, you’re saying it as if it is a part of your body.“
“Saying part of my body is an exaggeration, but somehow it feels insecure being unarmed. This sword…no…a sword?“
Naga cocked his head.
“That’s wrong. this is not a sword.“ (Naga) “Ha? If it isn’t, then what should it be?“ “This is….this is…this is, that, that’s right, I remembered! This is a katana!“ “KATANA? Is that the name of your weapon?“ “Name—? Did this weapon have a name—-?….That’s right, it should be fine if you consider it as a type of sword with that name.“
“I don’t quite get it, but let’s say I understood. Rather than that, you were able to recall its name, weren’t you?“ “Yeah, I recalled.“ “Do you remember anything else apart from that?“
Naga’s radiant face quickly turned into a depressed one.
“No…it’s still no good.“ “Well, you don’t have to be so discouraged. Even if it as just a single memory, won’t you be able to remember other things later?“ “….you’re right, but will I be able to wait patiently?“
Since then, excluding Harrigan, 10 young witches with appearances of being in their teens had gathered at the village’s plaza. Their appearance were completely inconsistent and none of them had any armor. Everyone wore thin clothes similar to Harrigan’s with lots of exposed skin. There were even those wearing less than her. Will they really be fine like that – Naga was surprised, which wasn’t unjustified for him as their clothing was basically different from what he would intuitively know. he wasn’t just surprised but also felt a sense of danger. Once he looked with anxiety over the gathered witches, his sight met Yuuki’s.
As expected, when it comes to a sortie with everyone, she too, had to set out without being able to refuse seeing Naga.
Yuuki too, wore similar clothes to the ones the other witches had, which was thin and had lots of skin exposure. Her body lines were visible. Once Naga took a glance at her appearance, it couldn’t be helped for him to refresh the memory of seeing her completely naked during the bathing incident.
(That was…indeed pretty.)
Nevertheless, the girl looked towards him, which didn’t hide her feeling of disgust and hatred, and slightly moved her lips. He couldn’t hear what she said, however, thanks to Lela’s charm attached on the back of his neck, he was able to grasp it somehow in the back of his brain.
Yuuki, who said it as if about to spit it out, looked at Naga as if at a filthy object with her scorning eyes and turned away.
(I’m being quite hated, aren't I?)
Naga smiled wryly inside his heart.
(Well, in the first place. I was a person that was disdained, I…speaking of which, no…was that so? I’ve the feeling it was like that though…)
Somehow feeling that his unpleasant memories were about to emerge, Naga moved his sight from Yuuki and thought about another thing.
No only were the young witches present at the plaza but also children from the hidden village appeared in the fortification.
“Hey Harrigan, you aren’t really planning on bringing those small children right?”
Seeing Naga paying attention to 3 girls of about 10 years old, Harrigan shook her head as in saying 'Of course not'.
“Those children are still too young to go to war. I’ll have them stay here.“ “Hearing that, I feel relieved.“
Harrigan faced towards the 3 children.
“Stay here and watch over this place obediently. We will be back after 2 to 3 days. You know how to prepare meals, right? Once the other daughters come back, tell them to leave at least two people in this fortification. In case something happens, send us a pigeon, but pay attention when dealing with them at the dovecote. If you deem this place to be dangerous, run away as fast as you can to the village, understood?“
Harrigan told them. Was it because they were used to such a situation? The children nodded at Harrigan’s words without showing fear, hesitation or noise.
Ain’t they brave, or so – Naga thought while greatly admiring them. Naga had the feeling like the memories of his country at war slightly resurfaced in his mind.
He remembered that over there battle was a daily occurrence, that death was sitting next to him everyday, and that the women and children, those who were viewed as weak, lived each day in fear.
(Naturally, the women here seem to be combatants, however, I’ve the feeling like the aspect of war here is different with the one I know from my world. Even if it’s true, how do they intend to fight in those outfits?)
With the memories of his own war experiences being faint, Naga couldn’t recollect in detail about the fighting methods, nevertheless, it was hard for him to accept the scene before his eyes no matter what he would do. Such was his intuition, or rather, it couldn’t be helped for him to feel that it was not right. Naga had the feeling that it wasn’t different from his previous world, where he would feel aroused before the battle, despite him being accompanied by a sense of discomfort and doubt, which took precedence over his other feelings.
Exaltation and resignation, obligation and expectation, fear and joy.
Such contrary feelings were shaking his soul.
On the other hand, he would feel himself calm. He wasn’t fighting for the sake of a war, but rather, he was fighting to win. Despite Naga being shaken by his zealous soul, he stared at the witches, who were making preparations for the battle in the plaza, with his calm eyes.
“Everyone, are you all prepared? Let’s go!” “Yes, ane-sama.“ (everyone)
Together with Harrigan, Naga, Ais, Lela and Yuuki, they went off to battle. Besides them, there were four other witches – Selena, Dee, Kay and Northa. In total there were 8 people.
(She said about 5, 6 people being in the forest, but, at this rate, won’t it become 12,13 people? Even if there are several people at the fort, in the end there’s only several people. How do they intend to fight an enemy of 200? What’s more, in those outfits. Perhaps it’s her usual way of doing things since Harrigan seemed to be much confident, nevertheless…no, wait a bit.)
Being trapped inside a big question, Naga unintentionally stopped his feet and called out to Harrigan’s back, who tried to run out from the fort.
“Hey, Harrigan. Don’t you guys have horses?”
Harrigan stopped and turned around as she answered curtly.
Not expecting this kind of answer from Harrigan, Naga felt dejected inside his heart and piled up his question.
“Why don’t you have horses?” “It’s difficult to tame wild horses, and we don’t have spare time for that.” “In that case, wouldn’t it be better to buy them?” “Do you think humans, who are hostile against us, will sell us horses?”
Being asked back left Naga lost for words.
“A long time ago, there used to be wandering people who would help us by selling horses, but now they rarely visit this place. First of all, riding a horse is hard, especially, in a forest like this. Considering the danger of falling off from the horse, it would be better to run using your own feet.” “Is that so? It’s because it’s this kind of forest that I believe that traveling with a horse would be much faster.” “Is it because you don’t want to run?” ”Uh, w-well, I won’t deny that aspect, but…” “You are such a weakling.” “No, in my world it was common to ride horses….probably.” “Here it’s common to run using one’s own feet, so give up.” “Ah, is that so? Got it.”
No matter how deep the forest is, Naga thought it might take a moment or two to get out the forest while running along with the witches, however, he was greatly mistaken.
“At this rate, won’t it take us half a day until we get out the forest!?”
Since they went out of the fort at noon, it seemed as though they needed just a bit to reach the end of the forest, yet the day was already turning to deep night. Harrigan took a break several times, despite that, Naga still gasped for breath.
Compared to him, Harrigan was composed without showing any tiredness nor sweating. The other witches were the same.
(For him to make this much noise over such a trifle thing. Should I have perhaps made Ais carry him on her back from the beginning?)
While thinking so, Harrigan looked at him coldly.
“It’s thanks to this deep forest that humans cannot easily invade our territory.” “It seems to be so…but you are really good walkers. Even my body should be quite trained, but…”
Bending forward and putting his hand on his lap, Naga was desperately catching his breath.
“Haahn! You’re just a weakling. Despite just saying that with that energetic mouth of yours, in reality you are just a weak, gutless, frail and lazy big idiot.”
As if taking the opportunity, Yuuki abused Naga with as many jeers as she wanted to say. In spite of her getting carried away and him wanting to retort, Naga didn’t have the energy to say anything back. As expected, a horse was required. What’s more, if a half day is needed to reach the fort, then they probably won’t make it in time for a war. Because Naga thought so, he asked Harrigan.
“Hey, if it took this much time, wouldn’t the fort fall before you could even reach?” “No, it wouldn’t happen. We have been especially careful whenever human soldiers would reach the fort. That’s why till now we haven’t had many problems. In the first place, even now, the human soldiers wouldn’t try too hard in taking down this fortification. They would approach whenever they saw an opportunity, nevertheless, once we attacked they would retreat so as not to sustain heavy losses.” “Hmm, so it was like that?” “Probably, they were measuring our war potential. What’s more is there’s a lot of craftsmanship implemented in the fort, which are based on magic, however, they didn’t seem to be used. That would be the proof that the enemy has so far been focusing on scouting the surroundings of the fort. Naturally, this time unlike before, I’m a little bit worried about their increase in number, but..”
Even if being told about the magic craftsmanship, Naga probably couldn’t understand.
Despite not having concrete memories, Naga knew about instances where the overwhelmed side that tried to protect a fort would repel the onslaught of the bigger army, as long they had enough time for preparations. It was something based on his experience. For example, by throwing lumber and stones on the enemy army, or pouring boiled water and oil. It would probably be similar to the magic craftsmanship.
“Well, I don’t quite get it, but I got it.” “Again with that? As always, it suits you.” “Please don’t say it that harshly.”
Naga refuted while straightening his lower back and clapping his hands together.
“That’s fine already. So there’s some distance left?” “Yeah, even with your pace, it should take less than a moment to leave the forest. The fort is ahead of that.” “….how much do you mean by saying ‘ahead of that’?” “Don’t worry. It’s just in front of your eyes.”
Not being afraid of what others may think, Naga breathed a sigh of relief.
Seeing that, Harrigan smiled a bit.
(Indeed, he’s an honest guy. that part of him is likeable, still, to be out of breath after making this far, he won’t be able to live here. Guess, I’ve got to train him a little bit more.)
The other witches, apart from Lela, had faces which didn’t seem to admire him. Rather than that, perhaps they deliberately ignored that fact. Nevertheless, there was one, who would treat him like a fool, unlike Harrigan – that was Yuuki whose smile appeared on her face.
“Well then, let’s go.”
Holding a torch, Harrigan took the lead and started running again. The other witches followed her with Naga, who was desperately trying to catch up, being the last. Next to him, Ais was holding a torch while running, so as to match his Naga’s pace. While thinking that collapsing here would disgrace him forever, Naga forcefully cheered himself up and finished running the remaining distance. Just as Harrigan said, it didn’t take a moment for the thickly dense trees to lower their height, finally, making the forest end abruptly.
There was a precipitous cliff in front of the forest that ended, its angle was almost close to being perpendicular. A small fort was built in the slightly opened area, between the cliff and the forest. Apart from that single place, there was a cliff stretching immediately in front of the forest.
The terrain gave the impression of a chunk of land being cut off with a big nata, nevertheless, the front of the fortification not only consisted of the cliff but also a slope. It gave the impression of a giant pressing a small mountain against the cliff, making half of the mountain sink and bury into the cliff. It was a steep slope, but not like the precipice that extended left and right. If people were to think about climbing it, they would probably be able to.
The witches’ fort was built in a place which made it possible for them to control the base of the slope.
Naga thought that the impression of the thickly dense forest would turn into one of the lowlands, however, contrary to that, it was a highland, which made him surprised.
Once he looked around the surrounding of the fort, the figures of two witches appeared on the other side. Because there was a small gap in the wooden fence, which surrounded the fort, one could peek inside. The two young witches that appeared took off the big bar from the gate and opened it. Compared to the size of this fort, it was a big gate that was improper for it.
With Harrigan at the lead, the other witches entered inside the fort. Naga too, followed them as he set foot on the fort.
Once he entered inside, the fort was much smaller than he anticipated. It was 1, 2 sizes smaller than the fort number 3. Inside, there were only simple, wooden buildings similar to a residence and storehouse. If one were to say what was noticeable for the fort, it would be the inside of the wooden fence and the highly constructed watchtower, which looked down at the cliff.
And then, there were just 3 people packed inside this fort.
It was small number of people, which could be hardly called reinforcements, but, once they entered, Ais put the bar back on the gate.
Harrigan introduced the witches of the first fort to Naga.
The two of them were sisters – Linne and Linna, who had identical looks. As expected, they were lightly dressed just like the other witches, which didn’t make them seem to be the ones who should be packed inside the fort, on the frontline. They weren’t surprised at the arrival of Naga, Harrigan and the others, as they should have received the homing pigeon containing the beforehand report, nevertheless, they had the appearance of being immensely curious about seeing a man for the first time, not to mention coming from another world.
“What’s the state of the human army?”
After being asked by Harrigan, one of the sisters replied. Despite being just introduced to, Naga couldn’t tell who was Linne and who was Linna.
“It seems that a unit, which was sent ahead, is gathered at the bottom of the slope. Once dawn arrives, they will probably climb it. Right now, Cu is looking over from top.” “There’s still some time till dawn. Shall we climb the watchtower as well? Lela and Linna, come with me.”
Because Harrigan said so, Naga asked her.
“Is it fine for me to climb as well?” “I don’t mind. Follow me”
Harrigan faced toward him and nodded.
“Ais and the others, go take that out. After you do it, go rest in your rooms. And once it’s dawn, we’ll mobilize.”
Leaving that message, Harrigan moved toward the ladder to climb the watchtower.
As soon as he noticed, there was no sign of Yuuki. Perhaps after entering the fort, she moved straight to the place where Naga wouldn’t see her, like the residence building or inside the warehouse. Harrigan, who as well seemed to notice, didn’t say anything in particular and placed her hands on the ladder. Following her, Linne and Lela continued, with Naga being the last to climb, but..
Once he looked up, a scene which could be hardly described in words, unfolded in front of his eyes. Be it long or short, everyone was wearing skirts. And then if you add a perpendicular ladder, it was completely visible. the area from their buttocks to the waist cloth.
Seeing that superb view, Naga’s eyes lit up.
(The girls here, besides from having quite open clothes, they’re energetic to the extent of being scary. Well, if they’re fine with that, I somehow can’t say anything, but….)
Without restraints or mercy, Naga shifted his sight up while climbing the perpendicularly furnished ladder.
Though Naga looked up directly, no one said anything. Was it because they weren’t aware of his sight? or because their attention was focused on the human’s assaulting troops? Whichever reason it was, for Naga it was unexpected lucky.
Once he stood on the platform of the watchtower, Harrigan was ahead of him while standing in front of the constructed handrail and looking down below her eyes.
‘Despite it being so dark that nothing can be seen, could it be that the witches are able to see in the dark?’, or so Naga suspected.
The name of the witch standing next to Harrigan and pointing below was probably Cu. The girl, whose whole body was coiled with fine leather belts, had a quite stimulating appearance. The belts covered her vital parts, or perhaps, one could say there was nothing else to cover besides her vital parts. Despite that, her appearance was way too stimulating for Naga, who came from another world. As soon as he opened his eyes wide and directed them at Cu, she turned around, as if noticing his glance, making both of their eyes meet.
Once he looked at her while panicking and trying to avert his eyes, Cu bowed down toward him with a serious expression on her face.
Raising his hand collectedly, Naga too bowed back to her.
After that, Cu advanced toward Naga and presented him a thick piece of cloth.
"Hm? This is?" "Dawn, cold, please take it." "Ah, is that so? Sorry for causing you trouble."
After he bowed down lightly and received the cloth, Naga put it on his shoulders.
"Speaking of which, isn’t that outfit cold for you?"
"Hm?" – Cu tilted her neck.
"It’s fine. These will retain warmth."
She pointed out the leather belts she was wearing.
"You mean for real?" "Yes. If you touch them, you will understand." "Hee? Let me see."
"I see" – As soon as he reached out his hand and touched the belts coiling around her body, he muttered while feeling a little bit of warmth.
"Whoa, they are indeed warm. Should I say these are strange, or fascinating?"
Naga began to touch all around Cu’s belts.
"Wow, here as well, and here too. Even here it’s warm!" "Ah, that place is, a little troubling." "Just what are you doing!?"
Being hit by Harrigan’s thick bundle of hair, Naga’s body blew away.
"Aww… it hurts. Speaking of which, what’s with that hair of yours!?" "This is part of my magic. Rather than that, I’m asking what you are doing!"
Naga, who was rolling on the floor, got up and massaged his head while answering.
"No, that girl told me to check how warm her belts are, so I was just making sure of that?" "You, haven’t you been checking Cu’s body besides her belts?" "You’re just imagining things."
(T-this guy is…)
Facing Cu, Harrigan reprimanded her gently.
"You too, don’t let your guard down around this guy. That’s because he grabs people’s breasts out of nowhere, you see."
Cu tilted her head.
"In other words, Ane-sama, had her chest, grabbed, by that person?"
The 3 other witches shifted their eyes toward Harrigan while listening attentively.
Harrigan coughed unnaturally and told Cu.
"Just forget about our current talk."
Saying so, she glared at the other witches.
"You girls as well, don’t slack off and stay on your guard."
Once the witches returned to their posts in haste, Harrigan directed her stern sight at Naga.
"You too, should feel more tension in situations like this." "Ah, my bad my bad. Your appearance was somewhat stimulating, so I became a little merry."
Seeing Naga, who was laughing foolishly, Harrigan looked at him with an astonished expression.
(Indeed, he is a guy that doesn’t give off the feeling of tension in what kind of situation are we in. The battle won’t start immediately, still, if we allow him to do as much as he wants, it might affect morale.)
At that point, Harrigan gave Naga a warning telling him to act more prudently.
"If you fool around too much, I’ll push you off of that cliff." "No, I got it I got it. I’ll act more carefully, and with that, I won’t do it again." "I’d appreciate it as long you as can understand that."
Glaring at Naga, Harrigan returned to her post.
"We can’t challenge them from here. We have no choice but to wait til dawn and let them make their first move."
After being told by Harrigan, Lela and Linna, too, wrapped inside their cloths and stood on guard while sitting on the platform floor.
Naga, as well, decided to sit down quietly and wait for dawn.
In the sky, which was still covered with the veil of darkness, there were two moons – a big moon and a small one- appearing together with the stars. Nevertheless, he understood that the east side of the sky was slightly turning white.
After a while had passed, the black night sky drew back 1/3 to the west, with the sky slowly turning into an ultramarine color. And then, the east side of the sky changed into a madder red.
Finally, the sun rose.
Naga stood up while slipping out from the cloth he was wrapped around with. As soon as the morning chill soaked inside his body, his drowsiness disappeared. What he sensed was a feeling of his body tightening.
Once he walked closer to the edge of the platform and gazed over the surroundings, the view that could be described as ‘marvelous’ unfolded before him.
Right in front of the wooden fence, there was a vast land stretching out. On the left and right side, there were cliffs that continued to sink perpendicularly, creating a 300-400 meter elevation. On the opposite side of that, a land consisting of vastness and protrusions stretched far away, below his eyes. Inside the vast land, there were several large rivers streaming like big snakes with their scales reflecting the sunlight. Thin dark lines were probably branches that separated from the large rivers. What divided the floating clouds in the blue sky and the large land was a high mountain range capped with snow. There was also a 40 degree inclined steep slope appearing before his eyes. The steep slope, which was illuminated by the morning sun, didn’t grow any trees, and on the lowest part, figures of people wriggling around were clearly seen.
Everything looked so splendid that it was incomparable with the country Naga had known.
Despite him not remembering his home country, a clear picture of a cozy countryside, forest, rivers, and ponds unexpectedly surfaced in his mind.
What kind of land was it? What kind of mountains and rivers were there? Naga couldn’t recall anything at all, but nevertheless, he sensed a strong feeling of homesickness at this image.
It seemed as though his heart was tightened by that dear memory, however, he quickly switched his focus to reality. For him, a different world, which he had never heard or seen, was already the reality.
Naga strived to grasp the current situation.
The enemy’s scouting unit, which charged ahead of the others, gathered at the bottom of the steep slope and were only peaking at the situation above. As far as one watched that, it seemed that the enemy were probably not planning to carry out an assault on the fort, just as Harrigan implied. Despite that, no matter how high the fort was to be built, one could probably anticipate the enemy climbing the plateau, making the defending side unable to maintain and bear the assault.
If so, then what will they do in case the enemy decides to climb up? – Naga shifted his eyes toward Harrigan after drawing that conclusion. Nevertheless, she was enthusiastic in her a deep talk with Lela and Cu. It didn’t seem like they planned to carry out any action right away.
As soon as Harrigan noticed his sight, she turned her head toward him. Lela, Linna, and Cu as well, directed their eyes toward Naga at the same time.
"What’s the matter? Is there anything you want to say?" "No, I was thinking that now is the right moment to strike the enemy, but… don’t you plan to move?" "We will counterattack once they commence their attack. For that we have something prepared for them." "Ha? You do? What’s that?" "That’s, what I mean is a weapon used to fight them back." "Is that so? I guess it would seem so. So, how do you plan to strike them? Do you intend to throw stones? No, perhaps, it would be simpler to drop logs from this position?" "Stones? Logs?"
Because Harrigan frowned her eyebrows, Naga felt again being seized with anxiety.
"You don’t attack the enemies that climb up with stones or logs?" "I see, so there were such methods as well?"
Seeing how Harrigan admired him with a serious face, Naga lost his spirit.
"S-So it’s something different?" "It is different. I think your methods are interesting, still, they are hard for us to execute." "Why is that?" "However many trees we want to lumber, preparing logs for pushing off the enemy’s troops takes lots of time. With the number of people we have, making a large quantity of logs is next to impossible."
Being told that way, indeed, it seems to be so – Naga smiled wryly while uttering these words inside his heart.
"In that case, how do you plan to attack them? There’s no way for you to shoot them with arrows, right?" "That’s what we will use."
Because Harrigan walked from the edge of the watchtower to the other side and pointed down, he hurriedly went and looked at where her finger was pointing.
On the ground, there was a large cart placed in the middle of the fort. The cart, which was covered with a cloth, carried something which seemed to display a thick bulge while being surrounded by the witches standing below Ais. Judging from the bulged part that was covered with the cloth, the whole entity seemed to be more than 3 yards (around 2.7 metres) of overall length, and about 1 yard (0.9 metres) wide.
After Harrigan said ‘we will strike with that’, one would expect it to be some sort of a weapon, nevertheless, Naga hadn't the slightest idea about what it could be.
"It’s probably not a catapult."
Once he muttered, a smile appeared on Harrigan’s face.
"Are you interested?" "Well, of course I'm interested." "From now on, it’s time for us to make our move. I’ll give you a close up look."
Harrigan grabbed the handrail and shouted at the direction beneath her.
– Ais, take off the cloth. I’m coming down.
Looking up, Ais answered with a yes while waving with her hand.
Once Ais gave a signal, the witches quickly gathered around the object lying on top of the cart. As soon as the ropes were untied, the cloth was collected and folded.
Naga, who opened his eyes widely, leaned forward vigorously, as if almost dropping from the handrail.
"That’s a wooden puppet."
Pulling back his upper body, Naga slowly turned towards Harrigan.
"A wooden…. puppet?"
While having lots of questions floating in his head, Naga asked.
"What’s that for?" "To attack the human soldiers, of course."
He once again looked at the human-shaped puppet, which lay down on the cart.
No matter how he would look at it, it was just a large-sized wooden puppet.
How do they plan to attack the enemy with that? – Naga didn’t have the slightest idea.
"I don’t get the meaning behind that."
While he clutched his hair, his shoulders were tapped by Harrigan, who got closer.
"I’ll show you how it works. Hey, don’t idle and go down." "Is that so? Understood. Well then, I’ll go down first."
While holding to the ladder, Naga descended ahead.
(What’s the matter? Doesn’t he seem overenthusiastic?)
Despite her thinking suspiciously, Harrigan placed her foot on the ladder.
"Lela and Linna too, go down. Cu will continue to stay on guard."
Harrigan, who gave the orders, started to go down, however, in the middle of doing that, once she looked below, she noticed Naga stopping midway while staring up zealously.
"What’s wrong? Weren’t you interested in the wooden puppet? Why did you stop midway? If you stop there, we won’t be able to get down." "Well, it’s just that the view is so good." "Aah? What are you talking… wait, Haaa!?"
Harrigan finally realized the correlation between her own posture and Naga’s position. Despite her late reaction, she noticed that the inside of her long skirt was completely exposed when being gazed upon from below the ladder.
"Doing that at a time like this, are you a complete fool!?"
Following that, Harrigan kicked him. Once her sole sunk into his face, Naga fell off the ladder while giving out a shriek – Ugyaa. His back struck against the ground, hard.
Feeling irritated, Harrigan descended straightaway from the ladder and stood next to Naga, who was groaning and crawling on all fours while holding his back.
"Even though I told you to restrain yourself last night, JUST WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?"
"Ah, no, please don’t yell at me."
Crawling on his hands and feet, Naga directed his face toward her.
"Being able to see such a lovely view, when we were climbing, made me want to see it once again, you see."
'Eh?!' – Harrigan unintentionally held the hem of her skirt; nevertheless, she realized it was meaningless now.
"Youuu…" Harrigan’s hair moved shiveringly and tied itself up into a bundle, changing its shape into something like a big hammer. In the next moment, it rose up.
"Try dying once!!"
The big hammer-like hair was swung down vigorously, making Naga forget about the pain in his back and scream loudly while tumbling on the floor.
The surface, on which Naga was lying a moment ago, had a circular indention. It wasn’t that hollow, still, it was a terrific power, which was unthinkable of mere hair. Naga, who avoided the hit by a hair’s breadth, rose up with a desperate expression on his face and thrusted his finger in her direction.
"Just what are you doing?! If I hadn’t avoided it, I would be dead." "I was planning to kill you!"
In front of him, Harrigan was glaring at him. Her grim face was indeed scary, but her big hammer-like bundle of hair, which floated and revolved above her head, was much more scary.
"W-wait. Calm down. You won’t gain anything from killing me, will you?" "Wouldn’t that make the worry of having the interior of my skirt getting peeked at and having my breasts groped disappear?"
A cold sweat appeared on Naga’s forehead as he became stiff.
"Well, I don’t particularly think it’s something worth being scolded over, still, it’s not like I care."
(No no, you certainly want to scold me. Rather than that, haven’t you come to kill me?)
"Aah, I understand. I’ll restrain myself."
Taking a deep breath so as to calm down, Harrigan released her bundle of hair.
"Because I’ve never worked together with a man, perhaps I too should have some responsibility for being somewhat defenseless." "Right? It’s not solely my fault?" "Don’t turn on me like that, you pervert!"
Harrigan glared at Naga with her sharp eyes; suddenly, her expression suddenly loosened up showing a sign of pity as she said.
"You, if you do a stunt like this in front of Yuuki, you will surely be killed."
Naga, who previously witnessed things more amazing than ‘this stunt’, tightened his expression so as to show that he understood it while feeling a cold sweat circulating inside his heart.
"Yeah, I got it. I’ll reflect on my actions, so please forgive me." "Are you honestly reflecting on your actions?"
Harrigan asked with a doubtful face, but Naga closed one of his eyes and tapped his chest powerfully.
"I am, I am. I’m sincerely reflecting. Anyway, in terms of reflecting on oneself, there’s no guy more superior than me."
(T-This guy… he doesn’t seem to be reflecting at all. I give up. Was this man just an idiotic pervert? No, I thought that such a thing wouldn’t be possible, but…)
Harrigan breathed out a small sigh.
"Uhm, ane-sama, if we don’t prepare it soon, the human soldiers might climb up…"
Being called from the side by Ais, Harrigan remembered the situation.
"Ah, that’s right. We should hurry."
Naga and Harrigan stood next the cart surrounded by the witches and Ais who was on it. The big wooden doll was coiled with several thick layers of leather used for protecting its torso and limbs against bow and arrow attacks.
Naga, who looked at the wooden doll from a closer range, noticed that its limbs weren’t attached to its main body. What’s more, he also noticed that the hands and feet weren’t connected to the elbows and knees. However, if it wasn’t just that. Looking more closely, there were 3 sets of each part, such as the head, torso, both thighs, lower legs, heels, toes, both upper arms, elbows, wrists, and the fingers from both hands. Together they were divided into as many as 20 components.
(Are they going to assemble it now? But, there are no hollows to which they can plug the parts nor protrusions sticking out from the arms and legs)
Noticing Naga’s sight and his confused expression, Harrigan nodded slightly.
"Yeah, I’m going to put the head and limbs together with this."
Harrigan combed her long bluish black hair with her fingers.
What’s the meaning of that? – Naga directed his puzzled face towards Harrigan; nevertheless, she jumped onto the four-wheeled cart without answering him.
Once she squatted near the space between the tip of the wooden doll’s right leg and its torso, she cut off several strands of her hair. Moving with her fingers, the hair’s ends turned stiff.
Then she thrusted in one side of one of her hair strands into the torso and the other into the legs’ cross section. Repeating that action several times, Naga understood that the torso and right leg of the doll were attached using her hair as the medium. Watching her for a while, Naga could predict her next actions. He could tell, however, he couldn’t clear his doubt about whether it would work or not.
After repeating the same work again and again with a casual attitude, all twenty parts were finally attached using her hair. Because it seemed that she was used to it, the labor didn’t take long.
"Well, this should do it. Lela!"
Being called by Harrigan, Lela jumped onto the cart and pasted charms, which she had in her hands, on various places of the doll. To Naga, the charms’ handwriting looked like wriggling earthworms, making him wonder about what was actually written on them.
Besides the torso, she also pasted the charms on the arms and legs. After she managed to attach around a dozen charms, both her and Harrigan jumped off the cart.
Harrigan ordered the girls who were gathering around.
Seeing how the other witches quickly withdrew, Naga also stepped back hurriedly.
Harrigan closed her eyes and concentrated her spirit. She muttered some words inside her mouth as if chanting something.
A sound was heard on the cart. As Naga looked towards it, he opened his eyes wide.
Before one could notice, the gaps between the neck, limbs, and torso disappeared. The knees, elbows, and ankles also seemed to be perfectly united.
The wooden doll, with all of its part attached, certainly had a human form.
(Is that so? That Harrigan. She said that attacking with her hair was just a part of her magic. I see, is this the real use of her magic?)
In front of Naga, who was filled with surprise and admiration, the giant wooden doll tried to move.
The doll lifted its knees and stretched its arms horizontally.
Slowly and steadily, the giant doll rose its upper body.
"Rise puppet, let my power bring you to life."
Making creaking sounds, the wooden doll’s upper body straightened perpendicularly and its movements wouldn’t stop. As if it didn’t weigh anything at all, the doll moved upward without any changes.
The doll’s lower back lifted.
The doll, which lifted its lower back without any obstruction, continued to rise while supporting its bending body with the soles of its feet and with an unnatural posture. Finally, it stood up on the cart. It was a movement impossible for a human being.
Naga could understand how enormous it was once it stood up.
He looked up at the wooden giant’s appearance with a dumbfounded face.
Soon, the doll stepped forward with its right leg.
Even if this huge doll was made from wood, it was considerably heavy, making the cart look like it wanted to break.
The puppet put its leg down.
At the same time the sole of its foot reached the ground, Naga could feel the impact passing through his feet.
The surface trembled once more as the puppet stept down with its left leg.
Naga gazed at the giant, which stood in front of his eyes, with a complex expression showing astonishment, surprise, and disbelief.
"How is it? This is our weapon. Are you surprised?" "Well… I’m surprised… that anything can surprise me." "Hahaha, is that so?"
Harrigan laughed pleasantly.
"What’s moving it? It’s your magic… right?" "That’s right, as you can see, the limbs and the neck are connected to the body thanks to my hair. By transferring my magic into it, I can fasten each component of its body. What’s more, the hair that I planted in each part previously plays the role of supplying the doll with my magic. At the same time, they create a circuit flowing inside its whole body."
"This thing is amazing, really amazing." "Yes, yes, be more surprised, praise me more."
(This woman, isn’t she just boasting about herself? Well, there’s nothing wrong with that, I guess.)
"Then, how many of them are you planning to sortie?" "No, just this one." "W-What?!"
At Harrigan’s reply, Naga couldn’t hide his confusion.
"Just… this one?"
"If it’s against a force of around 100 enemies, then this one will be enough."
"No, well, if their number is around 100, it’s possible to kick them around, but assuming you’re attacked by several hundreds of them, it won’t be that simple. Ah, could it be that this guy has some sort of a special attack? Like spewing out fire or bringing down lightning?"
"It doesn’t possess such things."
Naga dropped his head.
"It’s possible for Lela to burn the attached charms using her magic, still, that’s our last resort. By doing so, we can plunge the burning puppet into the enemy. If we happen to do so, we still have spare dolls, so it’s not like we are unarmed."
"If there are spares, how about sortie them at the same time?"
Harrigan gave a small shake with her head.
"When it comes to a large-sized puppet like this one, I can’t control many of them at once."
"Then, you're sending just this one to the battlefield in the end? How do you plan to fight them?"
"You’re asking this and that. With its big size, that doesn’t matter. It can blow away the approaching soldiers with a single swing of its arms."
(Hey, are you joking!? despite you being able to use such an incredible magic, your main choice is primitive hand-to-hand combat!?)
Naga couldn’t suppress the sense of discomfort gushing out from the inside of his heart.
"You seem to be somewhat dissatisfied."
"No, it’s not like that, but…"
(Hm? A large-sized puppet like this one, she said?)
"If there’s a doll smaller than this one, then could you operate several of them at the same time?"
Harrigan frowned her eyebrows.
"Why are you asking that?"
"I just thought that it would become a good reference…or so, but…"
"I wonder, perhaps it’s not like I can’t."
(So in other words, she has never tried it yet.)
"By the way, assuming they are half as big as this one, how many can you control? Perhaps 2?"
"No, if it’s half the size… that’s right, it may be 4 or 5. However, when it comes to operating several of them at the same time, I cannot move them freely."
"Ah, is that so? So this is the problem?"
"That’s right, Therefore, I can’t use that tactic for the battle."
"Even if you tell me while thrusting out your chest, you know…n-no, wait. Then how about a quarter?"
A quarter is after all a fourth part of the original size; still, it could be 1 yard tall (0.9m) as well.
"If that’s the case, then 10… no, perhaps more? I might be able to control as many as 20."
So that means, that the smaller the doll, the less magic is needed to control it.
"How about making them the same height as me?" Harrigan ran her sight from the top of Naga’s head to the tip of his toes.
"I wonder. With your height, probably 40 or 50 should be fine. I haven’t tried it or thought about it, so I can’t tell you exactly."
"And if they’re half of my height?"
Harrigan finally had an astonished face.
"Even I’m able to perform that, what are you telling me to do? It may only serve as a playmate for kids, but…."
"That’s why, I’m telling you it’s for reference."
"Hmm, a wooden doll which is half of your size, you say?"
She cocked her head repeatedly.
"I wonder about that. I might be able to control around 100 of them, but as I told you before, the more the dolls number, the more restricted their actions become. If it’s such a number, it might be only be able to repeat any prearranged, simplistic movements. But that means it won’t be of any realistic use in battle.
Harrigan placed her palm on her waist level toward the ground and moved it left and right.
"With puppets of this size, it doesn’t matter how many we are able to make, they won’t scare or surprise the humans, right?"
"Well, I wonder about that. I don’t quite get it, but somehow I understand what you mean."
"Which one is it!?"
"No, sorry for interrupting you."
Naga waved his hand while saying – 'please continue'.
'As always, I don’t get his way of thinking' – Harrigan thought. As she turned towards the wooden puppet, Cu’s voice was heard from the watchtower.
"Ane-sama, the leading force of the human army has started to climb the slope!"
Because the night broke into dawn, the human army began to move.
"Hm, so they’ve come. Fine, I’ll send the puppet out. Open the gate."
Receiving the order from Harrigan, Ais rushed to the fort’s gate
'I see, so the reason why the gate’s scale was this big was because of the puppet' – Naga thought.
Pulling up the huge bar alone, Ais pushed open the big gate.
"Alright, let’s go!"
As soon as Harrigan moved her hand, the giant puppet set out slowly towards the opened gate while making the ground tremble.
"Close the gate. Everyone, take your assigned posts."
Ais pulled the gate, closing it as it was before. Once she lightly held the bar, which was as thick as a human’s body, and put it back, she reinforced the gate using a prop.
"Let’s climb the watchtower once more."
After Harrigan waved to Naga, he hurriedly run up to her.
"Hey, is it really fine not to operate the wooden doll?"
"The visibility is much better from the watchtower. I can make the doll do more complex movements if I can watch it."
"I see. But, is it fine for it to distance itself?"
"As long as it’s a distance in which I can see it, I’m able to control it at my own will."
Saying only that, Harrigan started to run.
Despite him being filled with surprise and admiration for their magic, which was a big deal, Naga had a sense of discomfort gushing up from his heart. While folding his hands and pondering hard, it didn’t feel like there was anything out of place in his or their way of reasoning.
Naga couldn’t quite understand what he was worried about, still, there were some thoughts which wouldn’t leave his mind saying that it was wrong.
"No, let’s just leave it. I better confirm with my own eyes how Harrigan plans to fight using the doll. Speaking of which, climbing the ladder, does it mean that I’ll be the last? So, once again, I’ll have the chance to peep?"
He looked at the direction of the watchtower; nevertheless, while he was pondering, the witches were already done climbing.
(What? That’s boring. Even though I was thinking about trying to touch them apart from just peeping.)
Despite saying that he would reflect on himself, he wasn’t the sort of man to learn his lesson.
Grabbing hold of the ladder, Naga moved his limbs as he quickly climbed to the tower.
Harrigan moved to the watching platform, which was surrounded by a handrail, and looked below with a stern face.
Cliffs were running through from both the left and right side, however, only the front of the fort was made from a steep angled hill instead of a cliff. Outside the fort, the giant puppet was facing toward the slope and about to advance.
As if pushing aside the witches that lined up near Harrigan, Naga stood next to her.
Watching the wide scenery which unfolded in front of him, Naga’s body suddenly trembled. That was neither due to anxiety nor fear, but joy. Or perhaps, due to his expectations.
He still didn’t know much about the current world.
What kind of people lived here? What kind of things existed? Naga couldn’t tell any of these things.
Just from looking at this extensive scenery, his chest gushed, naturally, with a certain type of a determination.
If he’s told that there’s no end to wars in this world, he will put an end to them. If this world splits into multiple, small countries divided by conflicts, he will unite them. If in this world, humans and witches can’t get along with each other, he will establish a society where they both can coexist.
In front of this spacious world, not just his body, but also his heart trembled. Waa – As soon as shouts of joys rose up from his surroundings, Naga’s attention was brought back. Directing his sight below of him, the giant, wooden puppet descended skillfully toward the middle of the acute slope, facing the human army that was preparing to release their bows near the slope.
Standing next to Naga, who was gazing at the doll he had never seen before, Lela became a bit mindful about his attitude. Nevertheless, she decided to switch her focus on the battle by looking distantly at the scene as she deemed it to be more important right now.
It looked as though only half a dozen flying arrows were aimed at the puppet. However, half of those fell down to the ground without piercing through the leather belts coiling around the doll’s body. With most of the arrows that only managed to get stuck in the leather, the doll continued to approach, making it seem like it didn’t receive any damage.
A wooden puppet is a wooden puppet. It didn’t seem to make any difference whether the doll would get pierced or not.
Naga, who thought it was strange to put the belts around the puppet, faced toward Harrigan with the intention of expressing his doubts, yet, she would frown her eyebrows and grit her teeth while looking straight at the doll and murmuring something inside her mouth.
(Is that so? So she’s controlling the wooden puppet with her chant? Guess, I’ll be interrupting if I call out to her now.)
Not knowing what to do, Naga noticed Lela who was looking into the scenery next to him and poked at Lela’s shoulder frequently. "There’s something I’d like to ask, but is it fine?"
Naga thought that she would decline as she frowned her eyebrows a bit, still, she nodded. "Fine, Wha-t?"
As soon as he asked and pointed out at the direction of the doll, Lela, who got hooked, shifted her sight below, toward the puppet.
"That doll isn’t alive, right? In that case, why do you need to envelop it leather? Whether it’s hit or not, it won’t change much right?"
"It’s Ane-sama’s magic that allows it to mo-ve. The magic, which circulates inside its whole body, is distributed using her inserted ha-ir. One or two arrows won’t have any big effect, but if dozens of them manage to pierce through, the magic circulation will be disturbed and hinder-ed."
"Fuun, so it was because of that?"
"That’s right. With the magic flow being obstructed, it will be more difficult to operate the doll swift-ly. In the worst case, it will cease to move at that place and be brought down."
"I see. Even a powerful weapon can’t be omnipotent."
“It’s true that I looked down on you. That’s why, I apologi-ze.”
This admission took Naga by surprise. He scratched his head bashfully.
“Oh, i-is that so? Hahaha, oh well, it’s fine as long you understand, still…”
“You’ve grown impu-dent.”
“Are you praising me or making fun of me? Decide which one.”
“Well then, I’m praising yo-u. Unlike your foolish and perverted looks, you’ve got a brain, so I’m impress-ed!”
“Oi! You’re clearly harassing me with that praise!”
“That’s not tru-e. I’m giving you quite a com-pliment. It’s rare for me to speak well of somebo-dy.”
(Do you seriously believe that?!)
Naga reacted inside his heart. He directed his thumb at his chest.
“Even if I do have a sharp mind, aren’t I just a male human? Are you really fine with that?”
“Be it men, women, or witches it doesn’t matter to me as long they’re clev-er. Saying those words about yourself though, makes you seem conceited.”
Naga instantly burst out with laughter.
“Now aren’t you an interesting fellow despite that stern attitude of yours?”
Lela muttered while narrowing her eyes suspiciously.
(That’s not all… The way he tried to steer the conversation to grasp my weaknesses and opinions isn’t something I can make light of, still, that’s what makes him intriguing.)
“…UAHAHA” – Naga continued to laugh heartily, all the while ignoring Lela…
Suddenly, Harrigan’s hair struck down violently.
“Ow, ow, ow, ow stop with the hair AAAHH! I give!”
Holding his head in pain, Naga writhed on the ground.
“Shut up! You’re distracting me!”
Harrigan raised her shapely eyebrows and glared daggers at Naga.
Aside from Lela, the other witches pierced him critical and disdainful eyes.
Naga stood slowly while comforting his bruised head and raised his right hand in a casual apology.
“ …Yeah, sorry, um my bad.”
“I thought I had already told you not to interfere.”
“No seriously, I’m truly sorry. I’ll stop being a nuisance, so please rest assured and continue your work.”
“The next time, you cause a problem, I’ll throw you off of here.”
She threatened while her face slowly returned to her normal expression. Nevertheless, Harrigan’s eyes seemed to be smiling and it didn’t seem like she was seriously mad.
(Good grief) – Naga, breathed out a sigh of relief only to notice Lela watching him fixedly.
“As expected, you’re a foo-l. Despite being smart, you’re still an idiot.”
Naga’s face twisted up into a wry smile.
“Yeah, I’ve got a feeling that people have said similar things about me before.”
“Hmmm…..hm? I wonder who told me so?”
Looking at Naga who had bent his head to stare at the ground, Lela lowered her eyes.
“My ba-d. After all, you’ve lost your memories.”
“No, it isn’t something worth apologizing for, so don’t mind it.”
“Then, I won’t min-d!”
“Actually, on second thought, you should mind a bit.”
“Decide on which o-ne.”
Ignoring Lela’s retort, Naga shifted his sight towards the strange tool in Lela’s hands.
“Hey, can I ask you one more thing?”
“Still not finish-ed?”
“What is that thing you’re holding near your eyes?”
Taking her eyes from the tool, Lela slightly adjusted something that looked like lenses placed inside a pair of slender tubes.
“These are called binocu-lars. A magic tool that magnifies and clarifies things seen from a distance.”
“Meaning a tool that has magic implement-ed.”
“Do you have to apply magic while using it? In that case, wouldn’t I be unable to see anything even if I took a peek?”
“You won’t se-e. It’s meaning-less.”
“Is that so? In the end I guess I can only depend on my own two eyes.”
Naga gave up on the tool and once again focused his eyes on the slope to observe the battlefield.
There was no way for the doll to be completely covered in leather belts, especially where it had joints. However, those parts didn’t seem to receive very many arrows. On the other hand, the parts which were wrapped with leather were pierced by many arrows, but they did not seem to affect the doll’s movements. Several layers of leather had been chipped off, but the iron-made arrows didn’t sink too deeply into the puppet’s main body.
Ignoring the close range blows coming at it, the puppet sluggishly plunged towards the human forces.
The wooden doll began to corner the gradually retreating soldiers as it continued to advance further.
The puppet picked up nearby rocks from the slope of a small hill in both of its fists and tossed them skillfully in the direction of the crowded soldiers.
The formations of the human troops dispersed and the soldiers skittered away like baby spiders.
Once the dust and smoke settled down, Naga could see several soldiers tripping and falling in their haste. Folding his arms across his chest, his face turned solemn and stern for the first time since his arrival in this world. Naga gazed at the strange scenery which he had never experienced before.
It was completely different from what he had felt during the battles he was familiar with.
(I wonder what the battles I knew….looked like. I think the first thing was shooting each other…with bows, probably.)
Assuming he was right, the beginning of this battle shouldn’t be much different from the ones he generally knew. At least, the human side was behaving as he expected unlike the witches side. There was one fact, however, which greatly strayed from Naga’s concept of a battle.
It was this giant doll which was coiled with belts and controlled with magic. It swung its arms, threw rocks, and plunged into enemies while cornering them. Naga noticed himself accepting this fact calmly despite the fact that it was bizarre in every aspect.
(If this sort of thing is common in this world, I can only accept it.) – is what he honestly thought.
The 40-50 person troop in front of the doll hurriedly retreated.
It looked as though they were forced off the slope and onto the plain. However, between the people who were dispersing left and right, fast moving silhouettes were approaching the doll which had descended onto the plain.
Four horsemen were galloping towards the doll. What was more, was that they were pulling something.
There was a considerable distance between the top of the watchtower and the bottom of the slope. However confident Naga was in his eyesight, he was only able to see horses and people as miniscule specks. Because of that, he couldn’t tell what they were pulling at first.
(Ah! Isn’t that a battering ram?)
The moment he confirmed what the horse-riders were pulling, he understood. He knew exactly what the human troops intended to use it for.
As he watched, the wooden puppet moved its legs and tried to advance further.
Naga’s angry voice startled the witches who sat nearby.
On the other hand, Harrigan who was clearly angry, turned around slowly to face him.
“You! I told you that I’d throw you off if you were to—“
“Quickly withdraw that puppet!”
“W-What are you–?!”
“Do it fast! At least, try to bring it half-way back to the slope!”
“Why is that?”
“Just do it!”
Harrigan looked at his expression and realized that this was serious.
“Understood. But, I will have you explain yourself to me afterwards.”
Turning back around quickly, Harrigan screwed up her eyebrows in anxiety and followed Naga’s request.
As she did so, the puppet stopped and began to slowly retreat.
(Damn, its movements are dull. At this rate, it won’t make it in time!)
Naga almost cursed aloud when Lela suddenly screamed while looking through the binoculars.
“Ane-sama, it’s a battle ra-m! I think the enemy is trying…to knock the doll with the ra-m!”
Harrigan suddenly leaned forward.
“Get back! Hurry Back here! Return this Instant!”
The sudden shout burst out of her mouth and reached Naga who could now hear her clearly.
The battle ram drew closer until the point where it was clearly visible with naked eye.
“Tch!” – Harrigan clicked her tongue and called out an order in a sharp voice.
“Stop the blow!”
This order was screamed towards the giant wood doll. The puppet showed absolutely no intention of avoiding the blow, and instead put up a guard against the rapidly approaching ram. Its large build rendered swift movement nearly impossible. Its strongest asset was disastrous in this situation. No matter what type of weapon, there will always be strengths and weaknesses. It was just a natural course of action for the enemy soldiers to form a counterattack after experiencing battle with the witches.
Naga stared with bated breath at the situation unfolding in front of him.
The horses which came in front of the doll quickly split to the left and right with a pair on each side. Following that, the riders swung down with their swords and cut the ropes.
The heavy cart, on which the ram was placed, careened ahead with the speed lent by the charging horses.
The puppet was braced just between the edge of the slope and plain. In an instant the head of the ram slammed directly into the puppet.
A dull sound of impact, like being socked in the stomach, resounded throughout the area. The ram itself was made from wood, but its tip was clearly covered in metal. As the impact echoed, the giant puppet was flung backwards and ended up lying on its back.
The human troops began to cheer wildly.
“Damn! Stand up! Get up now!” Harrigan cursed.
Struggling to rise, the puppet responded to Harrigan’s scolding by writhing with its limbs. It was barely able to get up in an unsteady manner, Harrigan smacked her lips.
“Tch, so it’s useless? Lela!”
“Yes” Lela responded as she took out the binoculars.
“It seems that the blow just now damaged the magic circuit. I can’t attack any longer nor bring it back.”
“Hold these” – Lela said as she passed Naga the binoculars.
Lela forced the binoculars into his hands, and then stepped forward to the handrail of the viewing platform.
Lela faced Harrigan.
“Are you sure it’s fi-ne?” she asked.
“I don’t care. Just do it!”
Lela nodded slightly then took out a single charm from her bag.
Naga pressed the pair of binoculars against his eyes, but however much he tried to look through them, only a dim and gray world appeared.
(As expected they won’t work for me?)
Naga put away the binoculars and was about to refocus on the battlefield when his eyes were arrested by the sight of the charm burning in Lela’s hand.
(Ah, could it be!?)
Shifting his gaze in a hurry, he looked towards the wooden puppet.
Shortly after, gushing flames appeared on the doll here and there. Those were the charms which Lela attached to the puppet before it left. Naga understood that the charms were responding to the one she was holding.
(I see, she could do things like this as well… Should I say that it’s fascinating, or perhaps unreasonable? Different plans might allow this to be used in more interesting and strategic ways…)
While thinking this, Naga concentrated on the doll to see what would happen.
The doll, now completely covered in burning flames, began to advance slowly once more.
Naga pointedly looked toward Harrigan as if asking What are you planning to do?
“Run and explode!”
She stated resolutely, and proceeded to order the doll.
Once she turned around, the puppet began to progress while swaying its trunk left and right. Despite telling it to run, its speed didn’t increase significantly. Perhaps, it was the best it could do considering its large build and the damaged magic circuit.
Because the doll had fallen before, the human troops tried to approach it once again. The burning puppet walked while aiming for that crowd. Its movements were dull, but its steps were huge which made it faster than it looked.
The puppet waded in amongst the soldiers who cried out in fear while running in complete disarray.
Despite most of them trying to escape, there were those who tried to aim at the doll with their bows. An arrow that would maybe work normally, proved far less effective in this situation. Their actions were probably the result of their normal reactions mixed with the fear of seeing the burning puppet trudging in their direction.
Naga looked on, dissatisfied at the quality of the troops’ commanders and their orders.
Naga thought that the situation could have been dealt with more skillfully if he himself had taken command.
At that moment the doll’s arms launched themselves forward.
To Naga, it looked as though the giant was shooting flaming arrows.
Its arms flew towards the slower soldiers and burst directly above their heads.
As if on Harrigan’s command, the arms exploded, sweeping the soldiers away.
After this initial explosion the doll then launched its own head.
Unlike its arms which launched horizontally, the doll’s head launched itself vertically at a steep angle above the slope while slowly correcting its trajectory. Naturally, the angle provided a greater range than that of the arms.
As the head flew above the soldiers who had tried to escape first, it exploded just like the arms, scattering flames in all directions.
Again, the explosion blew away many soldiers, with flaming embers and sparks igniting surrounding soldiers, making them drop and roll.
The soldiers were completely unprepared for this counterattack and immediately threw away their weapons and scattered in fear and confusion.
Naga watched the soldiers’ clumsy escape from the distance and spat in disappointment.
(These soldiers numbered around 200 and they’re all running. There should be a limit to how pathetic you guys can act! But in comparison…)
Naga peeked at Harrigan and her witches.
(Aren’t they a little too strong?)
Naga felt a sense of respect welling up towards Harrigan and her people who had managed to repel an enemy of as many as 200 people. Even if they were witches possessing magic and special abilities, fighting like this wasn’t simple by any means. A thought flickered through his mind as he was evaluating the witches. A small thought of wanting to fight by their side, but it was gone before he even realized it.
Naga turned his attention back to where the doll had exploded and scattered itself into dust.
As he did so, he heard Harrigan heave a huge sigh of relief.
“Are you alright, Ane-sama?”
The nearby witches asked as they supported her.
“Yes, I’m fine. And that went surprisingly well.”
Harrigan narrowed her eyes and gazed at the doll’s remains that lay upon the battlefield.
“We were somehow able to deceive them.”
Naga wondered what her muttering meant. His curiosity led him to guess at the meaning behind her words.
(….Could it be that she’s talking about the explosion just now?)
Naga focused his eyes towards the battlefield; however, there was no sign of anybody. Normally, Naga might suspect someone to be hiding in camouflage, but he felt that it was unlikely in this situation.
Naga thought at first that the enemy intended to run so as to lure the puppet into a place near the battle ram, nonetheless, their desperate running didn’t appear to be an act. In the first place, it didn’t seem like the enemy could have foreseen Harrigan’s explosive assault.
Thinking that it was the right moment to ask, Naga threw a question at Harrigan.
“Harrigan, may I ask you something?”
“Hm? I don’t mind, but…”
“It’s about what you just said, but by “deceiving” did you mean exploding that doll?”
Opening her eyes innocently, Harrigan asked back.
“Why do you think so?”
“I wonder…” – he murmured while looking up at the sky.
“You mentioned before that you have a few puppets in stock, right? That means you probably have 2-3, or at most 5 or 6 dolls. Since the number is scarce, losing one of them means a heavy blow to you. What’s more, you said that attacking the enemy with a burning doll would be your last resort, and that’s what happened this time. This means that you can’t afford to let the enemy know the actual number of dolls you possess.”
“It’s as you say.” – Harrigan grinned.
“We don’t want them to think that there are a limited number of dolls. By arranging an attack using the explosion, we want to give them an impression that we don’t care if we use 2-3 dolls of the same type.”
“So it was like that?” – Naga nodded with a pleased expression. As he did so, Harrigan said teasingly.
“Indeed, you’re quite smart despite your appearance.”
“You’re saying that too!? Just how stupid do you think I look!?”
“No, don’t mind it. A man isn’t just about looks, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.”
She casually stated. Hearing this Naga lifted his face and beamed.
“That’s right. A man is about what’s on the inside. As for women, It’s probably not only about their appearance.”
“Hm?” – Harrigan tilted her head confused. Naga gave her a big thumbs up.
“In other words, I think that not only do you guys have first-rate insides, all of you guys look beautiful as well.”
“Hm? I-Is that so? I guess we’ve received quite the high praise from the Dragon King.”
“Yep. That’s why, please, stop calling me dragon king.”
Facing each other, the two of them laughed.
As soon their laughter settled down, Naga asked.
“It looks like you managed to repel the approaching enemy for the time being, but what do you plan to do next?”
“We will do as usual. We will leave some people to watch and retreat to the 3rd fort.”
“Which means you aren’t going to pursue them… What’s the reason behind that?”
Harrigan narrowed her eyes towards Naga.
“You, are you trying to confirm your own hunch? Or perhaps, are you testing me?”
Surprised by Harrigan’s sharp insight, Naga decided to speak honestly to her.
“It’s not like I’m testing you, but I wanted to confirm whether or not my guess was right. That’s because this world isn’t a place where I can rely on my own common sense.”
“Well, I guess that’s fine” – Harrigan nodded and faced toward the vast land spreading out beneath her.
“Spreading out from here, the vast land of the humans stretches outward with mostly even terrain. There are lots of forests and mountainous districts, but, most of them are wastelands. Even if the area is a small plain the wooden puppet’s combat strength will fall because a proper army can be deployed to face it allowing it to be easily surrounded. If the doll is surrounded by a large army and showered with arrows from all directions, no matter how many belts it’s coiled with, the number of piercing arrows won’t decrease. When it comes to that, the magic circuit will be damaged. Not to mention, the horse-riders can release arrows as well, and if the doll is hit with a more powerful crossbow in a place with no obstacles, not even the belts will help."
"In that case, you’d think that it’s better to thicken its armor, but that is not possible. Were we to do so, the transmission of magic would be hindered.”
“How about using iron armor?”
“We don’t have enough skill to make that. In the first place, if we were to put it on the doll, we wouldn’t be able to transfer our magic.”
Hearing her calm and accurate analysis, Naga groaned.
Harrigan lightly shrugged her shoulders and finally added.
“Our low numbers keep us from starting a fight, so we can only assume a reactionary stance.”
“Is that…so? Well, I guess you’re right.”
Naga answered sounding unconvinced; he strongly believed that one can’t gain victory by only defending.
“Still, I can’t really say I like the tone of that comment.”
“Rather than saying you don’t like it, couldn’t you just say I’m not familiar enough with your circumstances? I’m unfamiliar with both this world and your current situation. That is why I’d like you to give me more time. I have some confidence in finding a way for you to win.”
Harrigan suddenly loosened her stern expression.
“Well, I’ll wait for that, though I’m not really expecting anything.”
After saying so, she tightened her expression once again and looked at the witches nearby.
“Then let’s withdraw. We will change the guarding post here. Lela, Selena, and Kay will stay this time instead of Cu, Linne, and Linna.”
“Leave it to us!”
The three of them replied calmly.
“Cu, we still have one puppet left, right?”
“That’s right Ane-sama”
“We have spares in the village, so we need to bring one more here.”
Harrigan turned her head and looked at Ais.
“Ais, sorry to bother you, but I’ll entrust that task to you.”
“Yes, Understood Ane-sama.”
“O-Oi, it couldn’t be that you’re the one that carries the dolls to this place?”
Ais tilted her head toward the astonished Naga and gave him a look that seemed to say – 'What are you so surprised about?'
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Y-you do this by yourself?”
“I usually get a little help, but basically I do it on my own as it is my duty.”
“Is that so? I got it. Then, I’ll help out as well.”
Naga decided to volunteer as he felt deeply moved by the witches’ courage and strength.
“Even though this guy said so, Ais do you want his help?”
Harrigan asked from the side.
“Um, but…” – Ais looked perplexed and replied sounding conflicted.
“This guy is someone who runs out of breath just from running here, for such a person to ask to help me…”
“Woah, aren’t you being way too blunt and honest with that?!”
“I’m often told as much.”
“No, no, honesty aside that’s not what I meant. I tried to offer you help, so shouldn’t you show some casual gratitude at least? Say thanks or something like that?”
“You’re right, I apologize for my ingratitude.”
Ais gently bowed her head towards Naga.
“Despite you being easily exhausted by a mere half day of running, some help is better than absolutely nothing, so I look forward to working with you.”
“You absolutely don’t hold back with the honesty do you?!”
As he uttered this heartfelt cry, Lela added on her own comments.
“Far from being useful, it is complete-ly likely that he will be a nuisance, bu-t…”
“Yet another brutally honest tongue!!”
“Thank you, I’m often told tha-t.” Lela said with pride and thrust out her chest.
“Don’t say that like it’s a source of pride; though I really can’t deny that it’s the truth, can’t you be a little less harsh about it!?”
“As for me, there’s something I’d like to request from you. Will you give me a hand, Naga?” Ais asked.
“O….Oh. But, are you fine with that? Is it alright for someone like me, who doesn’t know anything about the terrain or current matters, to help? I may end up dragging not just your legs but also your entire body down?”
“I don’t care if you drag me down just don’t grab my chest.”
“Hahahehe” – Naga laughed stiffly with a weak smile.
The other witches didn’t seem to understand the circumstances, however Ais knew the entire story from Harrigan. She showed him a smile that started at her mouth and never reached her eyes. He could feel a chilling intent from those eyes. He felt that they said If you do the same to me, I’ll crush your arms into pulp.
As if confirming his worst suspicions, Ais clenched her fists several times while squeezing with visible force.
Feeling a fearful chill run down his spine, Naga violently nodded in agreement.
“Leaving the joking aside” – Harrigan said as she continued to talk.
“I want you to carefully observe, since you don’t know anything.”
“A…ah, so that’s the reason?”
“I have good reason for this, by having you tag along with Ais, it is possible for you to learn about various things. You can observe the landscape, animals, plants, and features of the forest.”
“I think you’re right. Although I ran all the way here I wasn’t paying attention to anything but running.”
“For the time being, we drove away the human soldiers and made them go through a bitter experience, so it doesn’t look like they’ll be trying anything soon. So, Ais I might be troubling you, but can you let this guy try to help?”
“Yes, Understood Ane-sama”
Despite Ais’s grand smile, Naga couldn’t help but feel discontented.
“If you say it like that I feel like you’re saying I’m the one who’s likely to cause problems.”
“The fact that you even dropped out of the sky onto our heads is already a big enough problem, so I don’t think you need to worry too much about causing more.”
“YES, I DOOOO!”
Harrigan and Ais began giggling and it caused Selena, Dee, and Kay, who felt a bit nervous, to relax a little and smile. On the other hand, Lela’s expression remained firm.
“The next time you carry a spare doll, bring some food as well. Ais, you got it?”
“Yes, Understood Ane-sama.”
And just like that, Harrigan’s group went back, leaving behind Lela, Selena, and Kay. Obviously, Naga also tagged along. Yuuki, who had disappeared during the battle, suddenly reappeared without notice. She didn’t even glance in Naga’s direction, so he decided not to ask her anything. Even though the return trip was considerably slower and easier, Naga had no doubts that running couldn’t compare to horses in speed and comfort. (Is there anywhere I can get a horse?) Naga thought wistfully as he ran through the forest.
Translator's Notes and References
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