“Hmmm, I guess it’s like this?”
I was looking down on the Red Forest of Jonan from above.
I had a piece of parchment in my hand and drew a rough map of the area as seen from the air.
I estimated everything since I couldn’t survey the area, but this map might be more accurate compared to the one he had drawn up while walking through the deep forest.
I was the one who had come up with the idea of drawing a map from the sky.
I came up with this idea because I had received an order in my previous life from a surveying company to rent a Cessna and complete the job. What you can’t see from below, you can clearly see from above. I was also observing the movements of the enemy’s reserve army.
“The enemy number… about 300?”
Was whoever that was commanding the reserved army smart or stupid?
According to Lu Gun, the one who will probably appear is a goblin shaman named Ri Gudang. I don’t know what a goblin shaman is, but he was probably a bit smart.
From the looks of it, dispatching 300 soldiers seemed a bit too much for this forest.
They weren’t slacking off, but they were clearly slower than the small unit of 30 troops who Draco had sent into the forest. It was excessive to make slower troops catch faster troops.
Like this, the 300 reserve soldiers were gradually pulled further away from the castle city, Alunaha.
These were only 300 of their 2000 troops, but Draco had no surplus of soldiers.
So, he needed a plan to make sure he would kill them.
Impatience, fatigue and terrain.
The place to lure them in had been decided.
Below me, I could see Draco’s troops lying on the ground with arrows in their bows.
Almost there, the end tail was nearly at the trap.
Then, the slaughter will begin.
The terrain was unpleasant.
The path that Ri Gudang was on ran from the east to the west along the northern rock wall. The south was covered with dense trees and the ground was covered in peat and muddy. Just one step off this narrow path would mean trouble for his soldiers. According to the map, the road bent like a straw and then went west again. The terrain was risky.
This kind of terrain was actually quite rare. The Red Forest of Jonan was a vast forest and there was almost no difference in elevation throughout the forest.
(I’ll probably set my base here if I were a bandit.)
Ri Gudang narrowed his eyes and looked up to the top of the rock wall. The wall was about 8 units of length (240cm). It was a little taller than a tall demon. This was the perfect place to hide and attack with less soldiers.
The soldiers hiding on the rock wall shot arrows at them. It would have been fine if there were few of them, but if there were let’s say, 60 of them, then the damage would have been too great for him to ignore.
His suspicions were turning into almost certainty.
He knew how many criminals there were.
The bandits had at least two units of 30 men, possibly three.
Their purpose was deception.
It was a trap to lure Ri Gudang’s 300 reserved soldiers to a specific point within this mesh network of roads in the Red Forest of Jonan, and that specific point might be here.
Should he warn them?
His subordinates were mentally exhausted from the repeated strikes. Ri Gudang had given them plenty of water and food, but he couldn’t deny that their nerves were getting on edge. He should just stay quiet about it.
Just then, someone rushed up to Ri Gudang who was standing in the middle of the line.
“Ri Gudang-dono, the paling…”
“What about it?”
It was a message from the commanding officer of the 200-vanguard squad.
He said that a wooden paling had been put up to block the path.
Did the scream come first or the arrow? Flaming arrows were shot down from the top of the rock wall.
There were a lot of arrows.
It wasn’t 60, but nearly a hundred soldiers.
Ri Gudang’s mind went blank for a moment.
Should they go or return? It was unwise to climb the rock wall. They would lose too many men because the enemy was imitating a castle attack.
Valuable time was being wasted.
He was panicking and his teeth chattered.
“The message! There is a paling at the rear of the unit! It’s on fire! We are trapped!”
“WHAT DID YOU SAY?!”
The enemy was cleverer than he expected.
Their retreat was cut off and the rear unit was gradually being pushed forward.
Some of them had already begun to fall under the fire arrows.
“RI GUDANG-DONO, RI GUDANG-DONO, WHAT SHOULD WE DO?!”
The commander in charge of the 200-vanguard unit screamed.
The paling in front of them was also on fire. His allies were closing in from the front and back. It was only fear that dominated the troops, not Ri Gudang nor the will to fight.
“South?! To the south?! GO SOUTH! RETREAT TO THE TREES TO THE SOUTH! THEN GO EAST!”
The 200-vanguard squad commander became irritated and gave an order on behalf of Ri Gudang.
Rather than making a rational decision, the 300 men under Ri Gudang’s command had little other choice but to take action. 300 men orderly entered the peatlands to the south like an avalanche.
Enemies were rapidly being killed before my eyes.
‘When you surround an army leave an outlet free’
It was a quote from Sun Tzu or Wu Tzu or whatever.
‘Surround’ means sieging and ‘army’ means troops. It means that when you surround an enemy, you must not completely block off their escape route. Draco had faithfully re-enacted this phrase.
The fundamental knowledge of the battlefield didn’t change even in another world.
We attacked them on a road that only led south and led them into the peatlands. Everything was going according to plan.
The peatlands were swampy and filled with traps. The enemy soldiers had lost their control. They tried to escape from the fire arrows and fell into the pits and traps.
Then, the arrows rained down on them.
They weren’t fire arrows. The Forest God hadn’t given us permission to use fire in his forest.
But the attack was still powerful enough. The confused enemies were being shot at by Draco’s squad of 100 troops and became empty husks one after the other.
I didn’t feel shocked like I had expected. The enemy was dying before my eyes, but I didn’t feel any guilt. It wasn’t because they weren’t human, but it might have been a result of being an ‘Evil God’.
There was no nausea that turned my stomach upside down nor disgust.
I just stared blankly at the deaths in front of me.
“Evil God-sama, your complexion is…”
“Oh, yeah. It’s nothing.”
Elena was next to me. She spoke to me in concern.
I wasn’t feeling bad. I was trying to make myself feel bad. I didn’t know if I should get used to this kind of helpless situation. I’m sure I’ll forget about this feeling soon enough.
“Don’t worry about it. There’s nothing for you to worry about.”
The goblin who was crawling towards me was shot and stopped moving.
Then, the area became quiet.
“Evil God-sama has ordered us to put out the fire.”
Draco turned his dark gaze to the east as he gave the order.
He let about a dozen enemies escape.
This was part of his plan. He wanted to tell Benan that there were more criminals than they had believed, adding to Benan’s sense of danger. The problem was who had died.
“We can’t find the corpse of Ri Gudang, who is believed to be their commander.”
Taibanka had been searching the area for his corpse. Draco nodded at his report.
It was a failure.
No, the mission itself could be said to have been an extraordinary success. It was such a success that it renewed his desire to worship his Evil God. Honestly speaking, it was an ingenious plan.
They had killed a lot of enemies.
It would have been difficult to achieve this under normal circumstances, even with the geographical advantage.
And yet, he had succeeded. If the enemy commander had not fallen into confusion and had broken through to the paling to the east or west. Or if they had destroyed the traps in the south with magic attacks. They could have climbed up the rock wall without regard for who died. All of these possibilities were beyond Draco’s control.
Draco had won the bet.
But with the greed of one who has won a bet, Draco had regrets.
He should have only let one soldier go free. An uneducated soldier who had no grasp of the battlefield situation. If he had let a soldier like that live, then the information that he wanted to hide wouldn’t get conveyed to Benan.
But of all people, he had let the commander escape.
Draco pondered over the future as he worked with his men and tried not to let that regret show on his face.
He hoped today’s failure would not lead to a great disaster.
The forest was being dyed in red.
The fresh blood trees, the origin of the Red Forest’s name, were strained from the blood of the corpse they absorbed. The dark brown leaves on the trees were slowly being dyed red. It was a sorrowful shade, more short-lived than the autumn leaves.
“This forest is ferocious. It will swallow everything.”
Draco muttered to me as he ordered for the burial of his men who had lost their lives in the battle.
It was a complete victory, but some of his men were still killed. It was said that they fell to the hands of Ri Gudang, the enemy commander who tried to break through the siege to escape. Draco wanted to bury them deep into the ground where the roots of the fresh blood tree cannot reach them.
“Evil God-sama. The bodies of these people will be used to fertilise the forest, but will their souls be saved?”
I didn’t answer Draco’s question.
They will probably be saved. If they go to the other side to that big door where I went then they will be saved. But I wasn’t comfortable telling him that. It didn’t suit Draco, the <Dethroned Crown Prince> to live while thinking about the afterlife.
“Draco, I’ll be away for a bit.”
I flew. Things probably can’t go on like this. Something will go wrong.
I didn’t have time to look around the last time I was here, but the Divine Realm was a really lively place.
I could see the religious buildings in the distance as I stepped through the door. It looked big, but it was probably enormous.
This area was like an old-fashioned shopping district with stores lining both sides of the street.
There was a butcher, a greengrocer, a fishmonger, a clothing shop, a ritual shop and a Buddhist shop. There was also an okonomiyaki restaurant, a takoyaki restaurant, a grilled squid restaurant, a crepe restaurant, and an omelette restaurant.
Most of the things that existed in my previous life were there. I was almost tempted by the smell of delicious croquettes wafting from a family restaurant, but I was saving money.
I didn’t know what some shops were selling, but I decided to ignore them. What is a fairy shop or a Malkund shop?
There were all kinds of Gods walking around.
Some were obviously Japanese like me, some were Caucasian, some were black, some were other Asian, some were probably elephants, monkeys, dogs, cats, pheasants, earthworms, Yanbaru scarab beetles and aliens. Some also looked like elves, so maybe they can change their appearances.
The city was full of life. There were many Gods here.
The Forest God who prostrated himself on the ground was ridiculing himself, but there weren’t many Gods who worked on the surface. Most of them just sent proxies to do their jobs.