Wortenia Senki (LN) - Volume 21 - Chapter 1.3

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And all because of the multilayered patrol network they have set up.

Since this was the primary encampment of Ryoma’s army, guards constantly patrolled the perimeter to prevent enemy raid parties or traps set in their path, as all military movements did. This patrol network, though, wast meant to block enemy armies.

If one were to compare this strategy to fishing, it’d be like using a large round haul net with larger holes, allowing smaller fish to escape, to catch tuna. On its own, Tachibana could easily slip through this obstacle. The problem was that there was another special defensive network, one that didn’t counter enemy armies.

This defensive army observed the enemy army’s movements, with their primary objective being gathering intelligence, assassinating, and launching surprise attacks on small groups. Basically, they were established for counterintelligence and nonstandard combat.

However, recon forces were most wary of enemy forces and not a spy like Tachibana. There was no denying that the maneuvering of spies in small numbers could change the tide of battle, even more so than the large armies on the field. Ryoma had used such covert activities to allow himself to get this far.

As a result, the Igasaki clan and Nelcius’s dark elf elites supported the Mikoshiba barony army in secret. Tachibana had greatly miscalculated by not accounting for these measures.

Though I didn’t underestimate young Mikoshiba himself, I hadn’t thought his security would be so strict. I guess he really is that old man’s grandkid.

Tachibana felt his skin crawl due to the presence of shadowy figures. While he couldn’t see or hear them, they were there, one with the dark, and he could keenly sense them.

These are probably spies from the kingdom’s side. I don’t know who sent them, but young Mikoshiba has made quite a bit of noise since coming to this world. There’s plenty of people out for his blood.

Now and then, he could see sparks in the dark—likely from blades clashing—with an occasional groan echoing in the trees. A spy or assassin out to get Ryoma Mikoshiba got caught in the barrier and forced into combat.

But my luck is worse than I expected.

Tachibana scratched his head, cursing his luck under his breath. The Mikoshiba barony army had split into three groups, which was a problem. This move wasn’t an unusual strategy, especially if they wanted to push back the northern subjugation army. Being in a large group would give them the advantage, but since they were marching while seizing surrounding towns and villages, splitting up their forces allowed them to finish the occupation faster.

Should the northern subjugation army launch a counterattack, having superior numbers could encourage them and increase their possibilities to attack the smaller force. With all that in mind, this division was a viable idea.

But that makes it harder for me to pinpoint which group Mikoshiba is in.

The source of Tachibana’s bad luck was that the Mikoshiba barony army had already split up when he’d left the Church of Meneos to catch up. Upon doing so, he realized he didn’t know which unit Ryoma was leading.

Still, Tachibana had to ensure the letter reached Ryoma’s hands. Asuka Kiryuu’s fate was hanging in the balance, along with the future of his savior, Rodney Mackenna. If this letter fell into enemy hands or failed to reach Ryoma, Tachibana wouldn’t know how to handle the regret.

Believing in his luck, Tachibana followed the central unit only to realize Ryoma wasn’t there, which was a painful blow. All he had to do was deliver a letter, but he had spent a whole week trying to fulfill this task. He could only conclude that his luck was cursed somehow.

I’d need pretty bad luck to get dropped into this hellish world to begin with.

And yet, Tachibana was still luckier than most, as he had found a way to survive in this world. But this was of little consolation right now.

Just when I think I’ve caught up to him, I run into this patrol network, and in the midst of combat, at that.

His only saving grace was that he wasn’t their target. Had he gotten in the patrol network’s way, he’d have been attacked from every direction and killed.

This wasn’t to say Tachibana was perfectly safe at present, however. Something came flying from the darkness toward the tree Tachibana was hiding behind—a rod. Thankfully it was thrown there by accident, no different from a stray bullet.

No one’s discovered me yet, thought Tachibana, relieved, after looking around with his breath held. He withdrew the rod thrust into the tree and sighed. A rod shuriken... What an old style weapon. It’s hard to believe some people would use something like this here. This world never ceases to surprise.

Tachibana already understood the connection between this world and the one he came from, so someone from ancient China or Japan arriving here with ancient assassination tools wasn’t implausible. A rod shuriken shouldn’t have come as that much of a surprise.

Unlike the star shuriken, which was thrown with a spin, the rod shuriken stabbed its target with considerable force, making it a weapon difficult to use. While there were some tricks to its shape and center of gravity, this type of shuriken was still a rod. Simply throwing it didn’t guarantee its tip would hit the enemy, and even if it did, getting it to actually pierce the enemy was a difficult task. Tachibana knew he wouldn’t be able to do it.

It takes a lot of skill to use a rod shuriken.

Putting aside the possibility of actual ninjutsu, one needed to handle throwing weapons proficiently. Somewhere in this darkness, a fight using such throwing weapons was occurring.

A shuriken, eh? If I were a ninja from some cartoon, maybe I’d be able to sneak in here more easily.

Genzou Tachibana was, at his core, a regular civilian. He was an ordinary middle-aged man, the child of an average salaryman and a housewife. When the time came for him to find employment, his good results at the judo club let him choose to pursue a career as a police officer.

Even though he boasted an above-average sense of justice, he wasn’t some hot-blooded detective like in the movies nor the product of a noble bloodline or origin. He might have had a distant ancestor who’d been a samurai centuries ago, but his family was perfectly plain.

Maybe being the descendant of ninjas would have been good right about now. It’d make life here more interesting, he thought with a self-deprecating smile.

Back in the juvenile division, he would read novels about characters that got reincarnated to other worlds, so he’d have something to talk about with the teens he had to deal with. Twists like that were common in such stories.

Tachibana read all sorts of such novels and comics, but there was no way ninjas existed. There would have been no place or chance for those with ninja ancestors to use those techniques in modern Japan. Beyond spectacles acted out for show, those who practiced ninjutsu or had that heritage wouldn’t use it in combat, stealth, or assassination.

Even so, Tachibana wasn’t unskilled and had been more than a uniformed police officer. He was a professional from the fourth detective division, where he investigated and arrested organized crime groups like the yakuza and mafia.

All the mortal danger he’d faced and his experience doing stakeouts taught him proper stealth, similar to ninjas. Being summoned to this world made him acquire even more skills, whether he liked it or not.

He had little experience fighting on the battlefield as a soldier, but tasks amounting to spying let him polish his stealth skills. And those skills were sufficient for detecting this shadowy battle and avoiding getting caught up in it.

But what do I do now? Do I just wait for the storm to pass? Ideally, he would wait for this hidden fight to end, then contact one of the Mikoshiba barony’s spies and ask for a meeting. That way, the letter wouldn’t fall into enemy hands by mistake.

The worst-case scenario, however, would be getting caught up in this battle and being mistaken for an enemy.

If that happens, I’ll have to fight them off, and it’d take a long time to resolve the misunderstanding. At worst, he’d be killed without question. After all, I can’t risk killing any of them.

Tachibana was confident that he could come out on top if he fought these spies in the dark, intending to kill his opponents. But fighting someone on that level while being forbidden to injure or kill them would be extremely difficult. Given the task at hand, he couldn’t hurt Ryoma’s subordinates.

Killing them would make this matter much too complicated.

Because Tachibana had investigated Ryoma’s disappearance before being summoned to this world, he knew the boy’s appearance. Ryoma, however, didn’t know Tachibana but could probably surmise he was Japanese based on his appearance and behavior. But Ryoma could never know he was a police officer or summoned to this world alongside Asuka Kiryuu.

This uncertainty showed how Tachibana could not prove who he was or his affiliations. At worst, Ryoma could assume he was a third party using Asuka’s name to get closer and hurt him. Sending Tachibana was better than sending someone unrelated to the matter, though nothing was harder than proving one’s identity.

If Koichiro was there, things would be easier...

For a second, Tachibana thought back to the old man he had parted ways in Beldzevia with a bitter smile. While investigating Ryoma’s disappearance, Tachibana had visited the Mikoshiba household. That was where Misha Fontaine, the court thaumaturgist of the Beldzevian court, summoned him to this world alongside Koichiro. But when they made their getaway, Koichiro had stayed behind to stall for time and ensure his and Asuka’s escape.

In truth, Koichiro had found out several months after that Asuka and Tachibana were being sheltered by the Church of Meneos, and he had been watching over them from the shadows since. Koichiro and Ryoma knew Asuka was accompanying the northern subjugation as part of the Church of Meneos.

In that regard, Tachibana could simply walk into the Mikoshiba barony army camp and state his business. But since he didn’t know Koichiro was at Ryoma’s side, he had to think carefully before deciding. No matter how long he agonized over the decision, fate was cruel.

A voice resounded through the woods as the fighting subsided and silence descended over the area.

“Who’s that over there?!”

Then, a figure cloaked in black and carrying a short spear plunged down from the treetops.

Shortly before that happened, Dilphina led the Black Serpents in their mission of guarding Ryoma. Her face had the usual cold, sharp glare, and her fair features resembled a graceful mask of ice.

Examining her face, though, revealed the fatigue and tension in her eyes. Days of nonstop fighting had taken their toll on her. Dilphina was, of course, skilled even among her fellow dark elves—the daughter of and heir to the Mad Demon Nelcius.

It had only been a few days since she cut into the enemy lines in the decisive battle against the northern subjugation army. But she wasn’t so frail and fragile as to be exhausted from that. Spending day and night without rest, fending off assassins and spies, had worn her out.

“I swear... No matter how many I kill, more crop out of the woodwork,” Dilphina said, rustling her sleek hair in annoyance.

“It’s only natural. To them, slaying the lord would end this war,” said Izolde, smiling without a hint of fatigue.

She’s always so energetic... Or maybe I’m just getting older, Dilphina thought.

Izolde was indeed the youngest member of the Black Serpent elites. She was physically mature, but mentally speaking, she was still young. That said, the Black Serpent members had all gone through the rite of adulthood. Perhaps Izolde’s youthful brightness just came naturally to her.

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