Across the horizon lies what seems to be the Great Wall of Vosgant that spans across the mountain range valley, towering above the plain bright green grass with almost no trees nor bush to be spotted.
A wavy river, however, passes through under the wall, creating a somewhat sore gap in its magnificent structure. It is this river from what I’ve heard what makes this place special and gives life to the capital city of the Reinhardt fiefdom. The river forms a flat land or valley amongst the slippery tall mountain range, providing a place for cargo ships to sail.
Coupled with the clear sky, everything looks wonderful, as if it is trying to Impose its fucking ideals and “happy thoughts” when everything is fucking meaningless.
After two weeks of journeying around and we finally almost reach Elras’s hometown, just a few more minutes in Elras’s carriage and we’ll pass the city’s gate. The city’s name is Karvent, I think.
I don’t really have any sort of concrete plan on what to do here. Maybe I should learn the superior, noble way of combat magic? Yeah right… It’s already too late. Re-learning everything up to intermediate mastery will be quite challenging, however, the real challenge will be in progressing further after that level. Which is next to impossible without a proper form of education…
Ah, whatever. A place far away from Renald’s mother’s grasp is as good as any. I just need to sort out my thoughts and plan on what to do here…
Heck, what the hell am I doing? Why am I even still alive? I didn’t request a second chance to live and here I am failing miserably as I did in my past life. What’s more, I’m doing so inside another one’s body.
「 Renald, 」Elras calls me,「 how long are you going to stay at my place again? You know I won’t be able to accompany you on your stay here right? 」
「 You’ve told me this before Elras. In two weeks I will be on my way to join Professor Mayer’s with his archeological expedition. What are you going to do anyway for you to be quite busy anyway? 」I ask back.
「 For goddess sake, I’m the one who’s supposed to ask that question, 」his palm makes its way to cover his forehead as he lets out a sigh,「 what the hell are you going to do in my place? It’s just a mining hub for the numerous manaritium and other mining resources throughout the Vosgant mountain range. What’s more, it’s quite dangerous with the constant skirmish we have with those damn elves across the mountain range. 」
Stress added in those few last words; Elras as always.
「 And as a Reinhardt first and foremost, 」he continues,「 I must hold into my honor in protecting the land from those arrogant savages. So I will be at the border for most of the vacation period most likely. Only staying in the city to meet with my family and others for at most a day or two. 」
He always mentions them. Elves. They are similar to us humans, with their key characteristics of long pointy ears and green-haired. There were also some theories of how elves might be closely related to humans. A fitting analogy would be how back on earth scientists come to a conclusion of how apes and humans share the same ancestors.
But this time, instead of apes as the lesser beings with their lack of intellectual capability, the elves in this world excel in magic far more than humans. Making us the more inferior creatures, even though we have superior numbers. Well, I’m not sure how to feel about that, it’s not like I’m going to dare myself to be involved in the elven skirmishes and face an elf.
「 I rarely go outside my fief and the capital city throughout my life, so I thought it would be a great change of pace to explore around and see what the world could offer. 」I say back to answer his prying question.
Why bother completely lying when you can just tell a half-truth?
「 You could’ve traveled to Bonhart city, south to the capital city, famous for its wonderful beaches. The Armant city is also an interesting option, holding the greatest cuisines the kingdom has to offer.
「 Or knowing you, perhaps the wonderous Ordsors city fits your liking much more than what I previously mentioned. The city has the largest magical library in the whole continent and the《Associations of Magicians》headquarters reside there too. There’re a lot of interesting destinations for adventure and yet, you decide to settle down in a boring mining hub and military city? 」
Elras eyes squint a bit as he asks me another question. It hurts when somebody distrusts you for as long as I can remember
「 You say it’s boring, but the great wall we are heading to says otherwise, 」I turn my head, looking outside the carriage window, 「 The wall from afar looks like any typical defensive wall, but up close right now, I can see the unique motifs and designs embedded in its architecture. Most importantly the numerous small statues of a man with a sword and his other hand casting a magic rune.
「 It’s definitely not as fancy as the royal castle, but it’s on equal terms in regard to its mightiness or even more. The creator of such a great wall wouldn’t bother putting extraordinary time and effort into building it in a boring city. 」
「 You really know how to flatter people huh Renald… 」Elras says, feeling prideful so it seems,「 But yes, my great ancestor, the first Reinhardt was the one who designed the Great Wall of Vosgant around the city for protection against the barbaric elves when they first settled here. 」
「 It must’ve been a distinguishable heritage from your family lineage right? 」I ask back, trying to stroke his ego.
「 It is. The Great Wall of Vosgant for the people is a symbol of what the Reinhardt people truly are – robust. A reminder of the great sacrifices the first settlers did in building a massive fortress for the protection of future generations. 」
「 I see… That’s good to know. 」
We close into the opened gate amongst the other carriages filled with people or mining excavation resources. Peasants, and others riding horses rampant in the road.
The thunderous harmonic melody of trumpets engulfs the once noisy road. Out of bewilderment, I peak over from the carriage window and look up to find numerous guards blowing out shiny gold trumpets on top of the wall. I immediately sit back normally, Elras expression takes a wild turn as he seems to be in a mixture of displeased and annoyed. Must be because of my previous gauche and peasant-like behavior.
The people surrounding us seem slightly bewildered with the sudden triumph trumpets sound, but they kept their pace. Surprisingly, some seem to be even happy with the sudden turn of events.
「 ELRAS-SAMA HAS ARRIVED! 」
As if nothing happens, the carriage keeps its pace and passes through the quite humongous gate that could perhaps fit five carriages side by side.
As we pass through it, soldiers stand side by side, saluting their long waited young lord, Elras. Their appearance seems to be more rigid — battle-hardened — compared to the guards in the capital city. Capped with a mix of black and brown leather uniform, without any steel armor. Very different compared to the flashy red and white uniform of the royal magician army when they don’t wear steel armor.
Wait a minute… what are they holding? Those aren’t the familiar spears that I’ve known of or other kinds of polearm. There’s some kind of a steel barrel in them… Don’t tell me…
「 Hey Elras… 」
「 Yes, Renald? 」
「 W-what kind of weapon are they holding?! 」
Those are firearms! I thought they didn’t exist in this world? How come magic is still the de facto way of combat or warfare then?!
「 Oh yeah, It’s not that strange for you to never know this type of weaponry, it’s called a bayonet musket. What makes it distinct compared to a normal spear is how it can launch a projectile, a small ball of lead in the blink of an eye through a steel tube thanks to a small explosion ignited from black powder. Creating holes or wounds into a target. Quite similar to the《Corum》spell, if you know it of course. 」Elras adds, seemingly not interested.
「 For such a revolutionary weapon to exist, how come I did not know this? 」
「 Where do I even begin with… 」Elras says as he ponders on what to say, 「 It’s not that revolutionary. The bayonet musket we design is based on a much superior bayonet musket way back of an ancient human civilization out of the continent. The art of creating such weapons was lost and forgotten. The engineers weren’t able to reverse engineer it so they were forced to scrape out what they barely understood and create a much more inferior bayonet musket. 」
「 How come I get to know this kind of weapon in your fief instead of… Let’s say in the capital city? 」I ask, inciting my eager enthusiasm.
「 Let me finish Renald… 」He lets out a sigh,「 the bayonet musket is unique to my fief. As far as I know, nobody else in the continent equips their soldiers with bayonet muskets. If you were paying attention to class you would’ve known it takes at least three years to train a combat-ready basic magician. Compare that to bayonet muskets which only require the user to aim and pull a trigger, three months is all they need.
「 Although bayonet musket combat prowess wouldn’t compare to a full-fledged magician, its much swiffer training is very crucial in keeping up with the constant attack from the elves. Thus, when onii-sama found this type of weapon existed, he immediately created a whole new regiment solely based on non-magician commoners in using this new weapon. 」
A burst of small laughter and smiles make their way to Elras face. But shortly afterward is replaced with a deadpan expression.
「 Back in his glory days, he termed the new common infantry regiment holding such weapons as the Ishkar Common Regiment. Named from the river that gives life to my people that live here. 」
Back in his glorious days? What does he mean?
「 Relax, I’ve known ahead what you’re probably thinking, 」before I can even ask, he cuts me off,「 he was killed in action from an elven ambush four years ago. 」
「 I’m… I’m sorry for your loss. 」I say back, not knowing much about what to say.
「 It’s been a long time. 」Elras says as he mindlessly gazes through the window,「 so although it’s truly not needed… Thank you for your concern. 」
「 If it’s alright to ask you again, what differentiates between ancient bayonet muskets and the current one? 」I ask again, breaking the silence. Hopefully, it will divert his gloominess.
「 Uhhh… Do I look like an engineer to you Renald? 」somehow a thin smile makes its way through to his face,「 …something about the special usage of manaritium and other unknown materials. And the inner working of the tube is very complex, some even say incomprehensible. 」
The inner working of the barrel…? Maybe what he means is rifling. Not so sure about the rest though. If there’s manaritium embedded in the gun then there’s still some magic working in a supposed modern firearm I guess. What kind of effects does embedding magic do to the inner working of firearms?
All in all, perhaps the current musket in this world is the same as the one in my previous world.
「 So why is a bayonet musket inferior compared to magic? 」
「 Renald. 」A short but deep pause in Elras connotation,「 it’s just a commoner’s weapon. Why are you so intrigued by such a flimsy weapon? 」
Why wouldn’t I?
It’s the type of weapon that changed the course of history.
The usage of gunpowder in warfare allowed the early adopters, often Europeans, to conquer and colonize much of the newly discovered world.
It wasn’t gunpowder alone that caused such massive changes as there were structural, organizational, and logistical innovations that came along at the same time but one cannot argue against gunpowder being crucial in these endeavors, be it conquering the land, conquering people, or simply genocide against a population that used cold weapons.
But I couldn’t tell that to Elras. He would start to question how come I have these weird ideas. I don’t know what will happen if the news that I was from another world would spread out. And I definitely don’t want to find out.
「 Fine… Since you have such an eye on this type of weaponry, perhaps a demonstration is needed. 」He says brimming with enthusiasm somehow.
What kind of demonstration is he talking about? Is he going to compare the damaging effect between firearms and magic?
He opens the wooden window that passes through the carriage helmsman.
「 Change of plan. Go to the nearest guard post. It’s time for an unannounced visit. 」
Here we are at the outskirt of the guard post of the wall.
Ten soldiers in total are in a formation of two rows with the front row kneeling. Every single one of them raises their muskets, aiming at the mockingly confident Elras, encased by a seemingly thin yet powerful golden spherical magical barrier. 《Quont》spell was it… Supposed to be another basic aegis magic. Yet, I’ve never heard of it…
These poor soldiers aren’t even holding the musket straight and are shaking a lot…
I mean, of course, they would. It’s their young lord for fuck sake, one slightly wrong outcome and at best they will be hanged.
「 Ready. Now fire! 」Elras says.
No gunshots or anything… Just their muskets shaking more to the point of vibrating.
「 I said fire! Do you understand?! 」Elras shouts.
A single shot fired, startling the rest and prompted the rest to follow, firing in a disorganized manner.
The gunshots were so loud that I blanked out for a second. Dammit, I shouldn’t stand near the soldiers.
Grey smokes rushed out, filling the air with its hazy smoke and the smell of freshly burnt gunpowder.
Elras surprisingly still standing proudly with no scratch whatsoever, and his magic barrier still radiating its glim gold unscratched.
「 It’s only twenty meters and yet only four shots hits my magic barrier! I know all of you are fresh meats but come on, even a young female elf shoots a crossbow straighter than you pussies! What’s next? All of you can’t piss straight?! 」Elras shouts, his face filled with extreme annoyance that I’ve never seen before.
But this language… I’ve never known Elras would say such foul language…
「 You should all be thankful I have a guest to tend for and Commander Wolyen Wolf is in the frontline. Or else every single one of you will receive severe punishment! Now go back to your previous duty! 」Elras yell.
The soldiers scramble back to their post, each of their faces pales seemingly as if a ghost sucked out their souls. But nevertheless, each of their movements is disciplined like they are marching out.
「 Let’s go back, Renald. Our job here is done. I’ll tell you more on the way back. 」Elras says nonchalantly as if nothing significant has happened. Even though he was being shot seconds before.
「 Now you see why? 」Elras continues,「 just simple basic aegis magic blocks a musket volley fire. Bayonet muskets users wouldn’t stand a chance against a magician. 」
「 Yes, now I understand the supremacy of magic. But was that really necessary? 」
「 Hmph, 」Elras says as he lets out a small laugh,「 I admit it’s redundant. But I did it in order to also see the regiment conditions. More so for the new recruits. I need to make sure everything is in order since my father doesn’t put his attention fully on the Ishkar Common Regiment, opting out to focus on the more conventional magician regiment. After onii-sama passed away, I’m the one in charge of this new regiment. 」
「 I see… Back in my family, I was never in charge of anything, so I was left to roam free. Anyway, so what did you find out? 」I reply.
「 A single visit won’t give me a big picture, Renald. But for now, the soldiers at the very least are instilled with discipline. What’s left is the experience in battle. Although I’m not sure how they will react when they face an elf for the first time. Perhaps they will need to get used to the chaotic nature of the battlefield before they are placed on the frontline. 」Elras says.
「 If that’s the case, I assume you’re going to check on them again at one point. By the way, where are we going? 」
「 To my personal small mansion. There are several empty guest rooms you can stay in during your stay here. 」Elras answers.
The carriage is ready in front of us, as we get into the carriage-
「 What a wonderful demonstration Elras-sama. 」
A clear but rather deep voice came out of nowhere, slightly startling both me and Elras. When we look at the direction of the voice, a bald man appeared wearing fine jewelry throughout his body that contrasts his simple common apparel.
「 And who might you be? 」Elras asks.
「 It seems Elras-sama has forgotten this humble merchant, 」the man bows down quite deeply,「 Gelael O’dinn at your service. My esteemed customers dubbed me, the man of pleasure, or the master of a thousand slaves. 」