Chapter 38 – The Sleepless Night
Hearing the breathing sounds from his surroundings while standing in front of the shining pupils visible despite the darkness, Eiji felt the anxiety inside his heart rising.
The men as well, probably had the same feeling.
Nobody wanted to get injured or die.
Even if they were wearing leather armors, the wolves’ fangs were sharp, making it highly possible for them to fall into illness with a single bite.
There are lots of instances where people, who have neither war experience nor practice, will flee from the enemy in front of their eyes.
And yet, there are cases where the same people who are surrounded from all the sides are unable to escape.
Doing so would serve the same purpose as not letting any fugitive run away.
– Isn’t this bad? What should we do?
– I, don’t want to die.
– Calm down! Our plan won’t change. Build the wall, just as we talked before.
The men concentrated their attention to Mike’s voice.
From where it was dark, sounds of breathing and growls were heard from the direction of wolves that looked as though they were hiding from the torchlights.
Preparing his spear and shield, Mike shouted with a loud and echoing voice.
His throaty voice was reliable at times like this.
The men who were restless changed their attitude completely, realizing what they should do.
Just as they were told in the plan, the men gathered near the cart and took out wooden boards, which they used to lean against each other in a form of diamond around the troop.
The wooden board was longer than 1 meter and so thin that it could be easily pierced through if the enemy got serious. Nevertheless, it didn’t seem like the wolves were able to realize this.
Despite their formation, they didn’t enclose their troop completely as they left opening parts, which were intended to create the right angle.
If they make it like that, they can limit spots from which they might be assaulted. It was also possible for them to calm down while thrusting with their spears.
The wolves raised their growls, which sounded threatening, however, it didn’t seem that they would approach instantly.
– It seems that they won’t attack us in the middle of preparation, doesn’t it, Mike-san?
– That’s because the wolves prefer chasing after their prey for a long time, rather than taking a brief offensive attitude. If we can restrain them properly, there’s little chance for us to be assaulted straight away.
– You’ve done a thorough investigation.
– Naturally. I too have been dealing with them lots of times. Whether you like it or not, you have to study them.
Mike spurred Gero on so as to make the wolves contract and not let them come any closer.
The men nearby too, stuck out their spears to threaten the wolves. All the wooden boards from the cart were used and put into making a firm enclosure.
It was a height difficult for the wolves to jump over, and at the same time, not high enough to obstruct the people’s view.
With that they could properly grasp the timing of their attacks and even conduct stone throwing.
– Is everyone done with their preparations? Then next, hold the stones. Match your breathing with your throw. Don’t breakup. Match your aim.
At the detailed instruction, numerous stones flew.
Eiji too, carried under his arms many stones from the wheelbarrow and held aloft as he threw them.
The stones were quite heavy and the throwing felt weird, which wasn’t like pitching in baseball, but more like something between shot put and overhand throw.
He remembered that there used to be competitions in which he would throw the stones, or so it seems.
Even a stone that can hardly become a threat, while being thrown by a single person, can be turned into an aerial attack on more than a single target once more throwers are gathered.
Eiji threw a single stone, and then another.
The wolves moved swiftly left and right while avoiding the stones.
However, it was not possible for them to avoid completely.
Several of the wolves got hit directly, which made them clearly become sluggish.
– Philip, I’ll entrust you with the other side.
As soon as Eiji took a glimpse, Philip broke out from the wooden wall defense alone.
Will he be fine?
It seemed that his fear was a needless one.
Philip carried with him the one size bigger spear made by Eiji.
Once Philip was thought to revolve the heavy spear bewilderingly as if it was a baton, the next moment he struck using the spear’s head.
His character stood out way too much.
Despite watching from a distant place, Eiji couldn’t follow the spear’s head with his eyes.
It seemed that the wolves’ quick-witted and agile movements could be completely grasped by Philip.
Once a single wolf tried to jump in the air, the spear pierced through its middle forehead with the head of the spear probably reaching its brain.
The wolf’s appearance fell powerlessly with a thud, showing its lost life.
Once Philip swung the spear, he would mow the wolves down confidently.
The wolves frequently raised their growls threateningly from Philip’s surroundings. Nevertheless, they wouldn’t jump at him recklessly.
It seemed as though his appearance resembled that of a hero from a myth or of a great historical commander.
Such an appearance made Eiji agree that there was no reason for him to worry about Philip.
As soon as everyone noticed the battle progressing toward their predominance, they felt alive for the first time. Their sense of suffocation disappeared.
Fernando, who stood next to Eiji, carried the stones from the cart.
– It’s your portion. Keep throwing them steadily.
– So we had this many stones?
– What are you talking about? Wasn’t it bothersome to deal with that large amount of stones back when we reclaimed that land?
– Ah! So it was that.
So the cart was fully packed with those?
Being surprised at the amount of stones lying on the ground that couldn’t be seen clearly on the surface, Eiji sensed a strange relationship between stones and weapons.
Large amount of stones continued to disappear.
While throwing with all their might, their breath quickly turned irregular.
As soon as the number of thrown stones became sporadic, the wolves took advantage of the momentum with several of them charging at the villagers.
From the gaps made between the wooden boards, spears stuck out while matching the moment.
Operating with a spear isn’t a difficult task even for an amateur as long that person is able to grasp the moment of the approaching entity and the right timing.
The spears certainly grasped the wolves’ bodies.
Still, despite the sharp spear heads tearing through their skin and gouging out their flesh, the wolves wouldn’t stop advancing.
– Wahh! It hurts!
– Are you fine?! Give him cover!
While being splashed with blood, a single wolf opened widely its jaw and snapped at a man.
The wolf wouldn’t open its jaw no matter what as it continued to bite obstinately.
The villagers thrusted with their spears many times at it.
Together with the wolf’s final death scream, its body fell down powerlessly.
However, its fang remained sticking into the man.
The other wolves growled with resentment after seeing their comrade dead. Nonetheless, they moved back a little bit while loosening up their enclosure, making their enemy’s hit accuracy rate drop.
– We are short of stones, ain’t we?
– Still, we managed to kill 3 of them and injured several others. If it goes smoothly, they will break up.
– But at this rate we won’t be able to kill till the last one, will we?
– This isn’t ordinary.
Eiji muttered inside his heart.
Saying ‘this isn’t ordinary’ meant that there was an exception.
In the first place, being now surrounded was by itself not ordinary.
Good grief, his words doesn’t make me feel at ease. – thought Eiji.
As a rustling sound was heard from the bushes, a big shadow drew near.
This one was more than just big.
Its physique made a large-breed dog like Gero look small.
Mike stared at the wolf boss with his loathsome eyes.
– It’s huge, isn’t it? I thought it was odd for the wolves’ pack to be this numerous… but now the mystery has been solved. If there’s such a monster-like leader among them, it is natural for others to follow.
Even the wolf’s body seemed to reach their chest.
It would probably bite into a whole human’s head, were it to open that big jaw.
– Fenrir…. – Feeling the overwhelming sense of intimidation, Eiji muttered this word naturally.
Wolves usually appear in a pack of around 5 animals.
Because of that, the situation in which they were now surrounded would be considered unusual.
Perhaps it was due to the wolf, which Eiji called Fenrir, having strength and size exceeding a human’s common knowledge that made it highly capable as a leader.
Therefore, it could lead a particularly big pack.
Fixing[notching] an arrow on his bow, Mike adjusted the aim while deeply focusing.
The string generated the sound of being tightly pulled.
Whoosh – the arrow flew sharply, piercing through the sky while making a swift sound.
Without waiting for the outcome, Mike pulled the bow’s string again. It was a rapid firing.
The offensive attitude coming from the wolves turned much fiercer.
The boss of the wolves leapt side-to-side while avoiding arrows. Immediately after that, the wolf broke into a run.
Its speed was not inferior to that of a shot arrow.
Other people, who were confused, threw with stones; nonetheless, their aim wasn’t good enough to pose a threat.
Even the stones, which hit accidentally due to the wolf’s size, were repelled because of its thick fur.
It became clear that the Fenrir-like wolf was aiming straightly for Mike.
It was a confrontation of the bosses.
Depending on which boss was to be defeated, their respective side will probably lose motivation.
– Don’t panic, we still have the wooden wall. Those holding spears, match your timing!
Despite himself being targeted, Mike kept his composure.
He too, switched to the spear and strengthened its spearhead together with the surrounding ones.
Even Eiji decided to hold his spear instead of using stones.
He didn’t know what he ought to do in his first campaign; still, Eiji followed the instruction and decided to become a strength. This was the only thing he could do.
Lines of spears broke through from the gaps within the wooden wall.
The people probably believed in being capable of bringing down the wolf thanks to having the experienced Mike with them.
In his voice there was no sign of impatience, despite him becoming the aim of the wolf.
– It’s coming. Aim!
The Fenrir drew closer to the wooden wall.
It was a distance, in which the walls became a hindrance, making it impossible for them to throw stones.
The Fenrir bent back and forth, and then ran toward the gaps—
Once everyone thought so, the wolf leapt into the sky.
– Impossible! For it to jump over like that.
Depending on its huge body and unbelievable explosive power, the Fenrir leapt over the wooden wall.
Nobody was able to react instantly.
The Fenrir warped its jaw and exposed its fangs as if mocking its enemy’s moment of disturbance.
As soon as it jumped again, the wolf pointed its fangs at Mike’s neck.
—- At that time, a white gust of wind ran past.
The wind passed under Eiji’s arms with a vehement force and moved toward Mike’s side only to snap into the Fenrir’s neck.
The hunting dog, Gero, jumped at the Fenrir.
Thanks to him, Mike escaped his death; nevertheless, the conclusion was yet to be reached.
Gero and Fenrir laid on each other while changing their top and bottom position in turns. Suppressing their opponent, they tried to bite at each other’s neck.
Angry roars of the dog and the wolf reverberated.
Did the other wolves have faith in their boss? They didn’t seem to go and help.
No one could give a support as both the animals were frequently switching places and wouldn’t remain steady.
There was a risk of injuring Gero, were they to try to stab the wolf.
Mike and Eiji grasped their spears firmly, waiting for the right opportunity to help.
Their fight concluded.
Gero was restrained by the Fenrir. The white fur covering his neck became exposed and the wolf thrusted its fangs in deeply.
A small scream was heard coming from Gero.
– Gero! You bastard, let him go!
It was the first time for Mike to raise his flustered voice in this turmoil.
Once an animal catches its opponent, it is much easier to aim at it.
Besides being only able to use its fangs for an assault, the animals could make use of their weight so as to slow their prey significantly.
They had to help.
Eiji subconsciously drew his spear.
The steel blade pierced through the Fenrir’s skin and gouged out its flesh as it directly hit the wolf’s shoulder and the base of its forefoot.
However, despite the wolf bleeding, it wouldn’t release its jaw.
– I’ll rescue you!
As soon as Mike drew his spear, he hit the wolf’s base of the neck.
It was certainly a life-threatening wound he dealt.
Nevertheless, Gero still couldn’t regain his movement’s freedom.
Once a wolf snaps at its prey, it won’t let its prey go as long it’s alive even if it means death to the wolf itself.
However many times they stabbed it, the wolf wouldn’t release its fangs.
The Fenrir died.
Did the surrounding wolves confirm their leader’s death? They broke up and withdrew.
Perhaps, they won’t approach Siena as long nothing major happens.
The battle concluded.
Some of the villagers dropped weapon, others lost power in legs, and yet another, shed tears from their eye corners.
Then, there was somebody coming to Gero’s rescue with all his might.
– Gero, I’ll save you! Don’t die on me!
Kyuun – once a small cry was thought to be heard, Gero licked Mike’s hand lightly.
– You still have to assist me with hunting from now on. It’ll soon be spring and you will be eating lots of your favorite deer meat. You have to teach your newly-born puppies how to hunt. That’s why… don’t die!
Mike continued to talk.
Despite the dog’s breathing becoming faint, it wouldn’t cease licking Mike’s hand.
– Damn, just how deep did the fangs sink? It won’t come out.
– I’ll help you. Let’s use the spear as a lever.
Was the wolf’s rigor mortis already present? Its fangs, which bit into Gero as if being its last act of tenacity, wouldn’t come out.
As soon they managed to pull out the fangs with lots of hardships, the blood began to thickly flow out from neck.
There were many deep gashes inside of it.
Despite Eiji trying to stop the blood with a cloth, it was quickly dyed red.
Luckily, it seemed that the fangs didn’t reach the dog’s thick arteries and trachea.
The leather collar on Gero’s neck also played its part in saving the dog from an instant death.
– While I block the blood, you go and order the retreat.
– Yeah, that’s right. That’s my duty…. I’ll entrust you with Gero.
Mike showed a moment of hesitation at the idea of leaving the place, but he quickly stood up.
He told the men, who looked clumsily, to stand up, encouraged those with injuries, and ordered them to tidy up the wooden boards. Mike’s appearance didn’t give any sign of discomposure.
Indeed, he’s a great person.
Eiji carried Gero under his arms and put him on top of the cart with the stones. On their way back, he neatly cleaned the place of wound from dirt using the water scooped from the river.
Once they arrived at the tribal chief’s house, everyone broke up, leaving the tidying up for later.
Because the night was late, the discussion was postponed to the next day.
Mike, who finished his errands, rushed over to see Gero’s condition.
– Is Gero fine?
– His breathing is getting weaker.
– Don’t you know of any way to help him? There are probably various things you can come up with.
– I’m not well-acquainted with medical treatment. Sorry for that.
– No, you’re a blacksmith, so it was wrong of me to ask you something out of your field.
– Please suppress the injury so that the blood doesn’t flow out too much and gently wipe the wound using a disinfected cloth with hot water so as not to let the pus form.
– Got it. Thank you.
Is it fine to sew the wound? Or perhaps cauterize it? Eiji didn’t even know how to perform that.
Assuming they resort to any of these treatments, Mike and the village doctor will probably be more familiar with that.
Eiji felt vexed at being unable to help.
The women’s camp, who prepared meals, went outside one by one and awaited the return of their men.
Tanya too, searched while trying to detect Eiji’s appearance.
– Hey Tanya-chan, this way!
– Mike-san, did the wolves’ extermination go well?
– Yea, we killed their leader, so probably they won’t come. Lookie, there’s your husband.
– Eiji-san! Thank you for your hard work.
– I’m back.
– A-are you fine?!
– I’m sound. I didn’t sustain any injury, but I just got tired from being over enthusiastic.
– Eiji-san, are you really ok?
Was it because his face looked much exhausted?
Eiji felt a bit anxious seeing how Tanya peeked at his face worrisomely.
It could probably have been due to Eiji not noticing himself being worked up that he looked worn out.
– Thank you, but there’s nothing wrong with me.
– Your husband greatly flourished. He didn’t step back despite facing a wolf in front of his eyes. Once he carried the spear, he shouted – ‘Oorah’
– Such a thing, I didn’t….
– Don’t be modest. Speaking of which, Tanya-san, give this guy a light meal today and put him to sleep early.
It was painful for him to look at Mike, who was explaining to Tanya clearly and with all his might.
Perhaps, Eiji wanted to run away at that moment.
Were he to approach any closer, Mike would probably have to sustain his face, meaning it would cause him more trouble.
Eiji, who thought so, received a light meal from Tanya. Once he finished, they left the place.
The same night. Eiji immediately opened his eyes as soon he realized he was dozing off.
His nerves were still sensitive after leaving the risky battle behind.
Today, it didn’t seem like he would fall into a sound sleep.
Once he stood up from his bed, a chilly air from the outside made his body tremble.
Placing properly the covers on Tanya, Eiji went out, as he felt a small urge to watch the night sky.
After putting a coat on and going out, the moon was shining above the sky.
And thanks to the snow that slightly piled up, the night was much brighter than in the summer.
Still, it was dark in the surroundings.
Just when Eiji recalled the battle scene, it was enough to make his spine muscles tremble and gush with fear.
– That is…
A dim light was leaking from the interior of Mike and Jane’s house.
Seeing how they wouldn’t spare their precious oil to light up the house, Eiji could guess that the condition of the hunting dog, Gero, probably wasn’t getting any better.
The dog was a partner that Mike trusted and loved like his own child, and with whom he would go together on hunts.
Eiji remembered their moments of hunting together.
How Mike became flustered when Gero was bitten.
It should have been much more difficult on him than anybody else, and yet, he wouldn’t whine nor make any complaint.
Mike continued to command the troop while remaining composed and dependable, to the extent that one wouldn’t think it was normal.
Despite that, inside, his feelings and heart were probably in disorder and raging.
It couldn’t be helped for him to keep worrying.
However, far from showing any flaws on his face, Mike even assumed the role of calming down Tanya.
Eiji could understand well why Mike, who was called a fool, would be considered dependable without being detested.
Indeed, he was a man of great magnitude.
And then, after tidying everything up, he still poured all his power into helping his dear partner.
In the end, Eiji couldn’t predict whether or not Gero will be able to run around once again.
In the worst case, he will die tomorrow morning.
—-Tonight seems to be a sleepless one. – He thought.
Knowing that it was inexcusable for him to go out after being told to rest, Eiji returned to the house with a quick pace.
Tanya’s appearance, which fell sound asleep after learning of Eiji’s safety, made him sigh with relief.