20 chapters released! I got distracted by… nothing of real import this week, basically I just slacked off and didn’t do much translating for a couple days. This chapter felt like it was going to go in an… unfavorable direction… but I was worried over nothing, so hope you enjoy it!
This chapter has a number of references to the Japanese folktale Momotarou. I don’t do in-line TL notes so that the reading isn’t weird, so it might help to know the story first, or you can read up on it later then come back to look for the references.
Chapter 20 – Interlude Middle: Operation Momotarou
“All right, I will now explain the details of this mission. My name is Momota Tarou, and I will be leading the advance platoon,” explained the platoon leader. “We’re being sent to the Topa Kingdom to ‘eliminate dangerous wildlife,’ at least as far as the public is concerned… However, this particular beast is intelligent.”
Everyone was reading the mission handout while listening to the explanation.
“It’s called the ‘Demon Lord,’ and it can apparently use very strong magic that has a maximum range of one kilometer…”
The explanation continued. The summary was as follows:
- The target known as the ‘Demon Lord’ is intelligent, able to command other demons, and aims to inflict harm on all mankind. In addition, it primarily eats people.
- The Demon Lord has no natural lifespan; it does not age.
- The Demon Lord was apparently created by the ancient sorcerous empire, an old civilization. It was probably the subject of genetic manipulation.
- The targets Red Ogre and Blue Ogre are purportedly quite powerful as well.
- Orcs are 2.5m-tall giants with low intelligence.
- Goblins are physically weaker than humans but much more savage, and they are numerous.
- The Topan knight order is currently holding off the Demon Lord’s army at the castle town of Tormis.
- The objective of the mission is to exterminate the Demon Lord, the Red Ogre, and the Blue Ogre. Any other demons can be ignored.
“…and that about sums it up. By the way… I can’t help feeling like the government and our superiors had a bit too much fun choosing who to send on this mission…”
Red Ogre and Blue Ogre… they were to eliminate the “red oni” and “blue oni.”
- Mission Name: Operation Momotarou
- Platoon Leader: Momota Tarou
- Squad Leader: Kijima Hitoshi
- Squad Leader: Saruwatari Manabu
- Squad Leader: Inugami Tsuyoshi
All of these rare names, their enemies being something like oni, the operation name, the use of an advance platoon… this was clearly a setup.
“Exterminating onis on Onigashima, we’re basically Momotarou’s party.” Someone actually dared to say it out loud.
“Couldn’t you also say we’re like a party of heroes going to slay the Demon Lord?”
Everyone laughed. Platoon Leader Momota raised his hand and the laughter ended.
“All right, we leave in three days. Make sure you’re all prepared by then. Dismissed.”
The advance platoon was only supposed to scout and inform. They would investigate the targets and determine what kind of weaponry would be needed to fight them. They were allowed to eliminate the targets if they decided it was feasible, but that was not their primary directive. The platoon had at their disposal:
- 5 high-mobility vehicles
- 1 Type 96 Armored Personnel Carrier
- 1 Mitsubishi Type 89 IFV
- 1 Type 10 battle tank
It was an odd mix of vehicles, but since the combat capabilities of the Demon Lord were completely unknown, this was what they got. They wouldn’t be able to handle any rivers, but, according to the advance information they had, the only river in the area was a very shallow one. They would be taken to the castle town of Tormis via the JS Oosumi (of course, traveling with an escort). Just like Japanese castles, Tormis had no moats.
The Ground Self-Defense Force Special Topa Kingdom Deployment’s advance platoon (mission name: Operation Momotarou) had been deployed to Castle Town Tormis in the northeast region of the Topa Kingdom in order to save the world from the threat of the Demon Lord.
Topa Kingdom, royal capital Berngen
The royal capital of Berngen consisted of a castle reminiscent of medieval Europe and a quiet castle town. To put it rudely, it was a backwater country; to put it nicely, it was charming. The townspeople consisted of humans, beastfolk, and elves. Rather than a multiethnic country, it was a multispecies country.
In the royal castle, King Rados had just received a report from the foreign affairs department and was speechless. Japan, who was so shy about utilizing military force, had dispatched a small advance platoon. He knew well the rumors about Japan:
- They annihilated the Kingdom of Rowlia’s main forces with powerful explosive magic.
- They successfully pushed back the Papaldia Empire’s oversight army.
These stories had already become legends. To date, Japan hasn’t even had a single casualty. Even though they were only sending a small platoon, it wasn’t crazy to think they could maybe even defeat the Demon Lord. Fortunately, while they’ve taken heavy damage, the royal army was still able to hold the Demon Lord back at Tormis. But, if the Japanese military was really as strong as the legends said, did that mean every soldier was as powerful as a high mage?
They would soon arrive at Tormis under the care of Topan escorts. King Rados donned his golden armor and a splendid cloak, then mounted a white horse; he truly had the appearance of a hero. He wondered what kind of people they were. Today, the Japanese army would finally arrive.
Castle Town Tormis
The knight Moah and the sellsword Gai were ordered to receive the Japanese army being escorted to the southern gate of Tormis by the kingdom’s knights. They would escort them to the castle then also accompany them on their mission as observers.
“Hey, Moah, why exactly are we guiding the Japanese army? I heard they only brought a small platoon. Is there any point?”
“Japan’s armed forces aren’t the ‘Japanese army,’ they call themselves the ‘Japan Self-Defense Force.’ You’re right, though, I’d have been happier if they sent more reinforcements, but instead they sent a small platoon, and one with a strange command structure, so I’m wary that there could be complications because of that. However, if they’re as strong as the rumors say, then they could be a big deal.”
“On Rodenius, they cleaned up Rowlia’s large army in a freakishly short amount of time using crazy explosion magic, then later their magic-powered ships shot down twenty-two of the Papaldia Empire’s dragon riders. It’s said that in all their battles, they’ve had zero casualties.”
“Hmm, that’s gotta be a lie. They’re just spreading propaganda to make themselves sound stronger.”
“Y-You think so too?”
Gai had fought as a sellsword his entire life. “I’ve been in a lot of battles. No matter how overwhelming the army, how good the weapons or strategy, or how flawless the tactics, while there were times when the difference in death toll was monumental, I’ve never heard of an army losing no one at all. It didn’t matter if their technology was insurmountable or if their movements were perfect, soldiers in the front lines always died. I’m guessing they just won some smaller battles against Rowlia and Papaldia. Well, beating the superpower Papaldia in any battle proves that they’re a major force, but to say they didn’t lose even one soldier is simply unbelievable. I don’t like countries that exaggerate. If they care that much about appearances, will their advance platoon be decked out in sparkling gold armor, you think?”
“Rrrg, you have a point… either way, they are technically state guests, so don’t be rude by going on about how you hate countries like theirs.”
“Yeah, I know, don’t worry.”
After a short wait…
“Sir Moah, I see them! The Japanese forces are here!” called the sentinel on top of the gate.
Dark green, iron demonic beasts were closing in from far off.
They made loud noises as they moved. They were also quite big.
As they got closer, the ground started to rumble. They must be extremely heavy, to make the ground shake like that…! The kingdom’s knights in front also looked a bit nauseated.
“What are those?! I’ve never seen monsters like those before!!!”
The procession stopped in front of Moah and Gai. The knight in the lead dismounted from his horse and came up to Moah.
“We have brought the soldiers from Japan here. They are now in your hands.”
While they spoke, a door opened on one of the Japanese iron dragons and a strangely-dressed person came out from inside. He wore a round, unadorned helmet on his head and had spotted-green clothes. He didn’t have on any armor, but he would probably wear some for battle. Moah didn’t see any trace of a knight’s formality or beauty that he was imagining. Frankly… he was just a barbarian. That barbarian walked up to Moah.
“Platoon leader Momota from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Special Topa Kingdom Deployment, advance platoon. Your accompaniment is greatly appreciated! Thank you for your assistance.”
!!? This undecorated, unappealing man was the leader of the entire platoon?!
“I belong to the Topa Kingdom’s Guardian Knights of the Doors to the World, Moah. After we take you to Castle Tormis, we will also accompany your army on your mission. I look forward to working with you,” Moah greeted in return.
He noticed a patch sporting a red circle on white on the soldier’s left shoulder.
(I’ve seen that design somewhere before… Where was it?)
Moah led the Japanese soldiers to Castle Tormis while contemplating this. Along the way, civilians looked at the JSDF like they were looking at aliens.
They had gotten close to the castle. The Japanese soldiers couldn’t enter the castle in their vehicles, so four of them disembarked, including the platoon leader who had introduced himself earlier. The rest waited behind. They were now near the front lines, so they had their guns handy.
Castle Tormis – built in the age of myth after the invasion of the Demon Lord’s army, it had a lot of history behind it, and it looked like it came straight from medieval Europe. Of course, as times changed, the castle changed with them; it went through numerous rounds of remodeling and no longer contained any vestige of its original appearance. Momota surveyed the historical building. If he listened carefully, he could hear far-off screams and yells, which really drove home how close they were to the front lines.
They followed behind Moah, turning who knows how many corners, before arriving at a room with a heavy-looking door. Moah knocked on it.
“Please excuse our interruption. I have brought the visitors from Japan.”
Inside, there was a round table, and the man at the far end was standing up. He was about 40 years old, 180 centimeters tall, muscular, and he had short, white hair and a white beard. He wore silver armor, a red cloak, and a sword at his waist.
“Ooh, our guests from Japan. We appreciate your coming here. I am the commander of the Topa Kingdom Demon Lord subjugation squad, Ajieze.”
“Platoon leader Momota from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Special Topa Kingdom Deployment, advance platoon. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
Introductions were exchanged. After everyone sat down at the table, they confirmed the state of affairs.
- The Demon Lord’s army of about 20,000 strong suddenly invaded the Topa Kingdom from Grameus, breaking through the Doors of the World and completely wiping out the standing army there.
- After that, the Demon Lord’s army invaded a district on the north side of Castle Town Tormis called Minaisa.
- At this time, reinforcements from the Topan army reached Tormis, and they engaged the enemy forces to prevent them from invading further.
- The Demon Lord took up residence in a local lord’s mansion and never left it.
- There were still about 600 residents in Minaisa who were unable to evacuate. Once a day, they’re gathered in the town square, and several are taken away to be eaten by the Demon Lord or other demons. Of the initial 600 who couldn’t run away, there were only 200 left.
- The Demon Lord’s army has lost about 3,000 goblins and 10 orcs, while the kingdom has lost about 2,000 knights.
- They’ve tried to launch rescue missions for the hostages 3 times, but every time either the Red Ogre or the Blue Ogre were keeping watch in the town square, so they’ve had to retreat each time with heavy losses. Because their only routes to Minaisa were side streets, many knights were dying each time. They were deadlocked.
- Because hostages were being eaten each day, they needed to save them as soon as possible.
After hearing the explanation, Momota understood the urgency for rescuing the hostages.
“I see… we’re under a lot of pressure here.”
“Indeed… If we could defeat the ogres, we could probably figure something out, but…”
“What are ogres exactly?”
“They’re many times stronger than humans, but the real problem is that they don’t get tired. As long as they have food, they never get weaker and can fight indefinitely. Furthermore, they have this wire-like fur that protects against swords and spears. Ballista bolts could probably pierce it, but the ogres are too fast to hit them with those.”
“So we need to get rid of the ogres first…”
Momota knew that the civilians needed to be rescued as soon as possible, and that waiting for the main Japanese forces to arrive would subject Topa and its people to needless suffering and damage. As the platoon leader, he decided to exercise his authority and made the call to exterminate the ogres.
“Once we have prepared, we will go take care of those ogres.”
“Ooh… if the Japanese army will mobilize for us, knowing that you have withstood attacks from superpowers, I feel as though I’ve gained another hundred, no, another ten thousand soldiers! We shall also deploy our knight order alongside your platoon.”
“First, we should discuss strategies, I think.”
“In that case, let us hold a strategy meeting in one hour. I would like to prepare various documents like maps, so please be patient for now.”
The preliminary meeting disbanded. As soon as everyone stood up from their seats, a black object flew in from the window.
The meeting went on. The Japanese said they would defeat the ogres, but he was skeptical, their numbers were too few to win against an ogre. Ogres were fast, strong, and did not tire. Their iron dragons might be more powerful than an ogre, but he didn’t think they could keep up with the ogres’ speed. The reason ogres didn’t get tired was probably that they had excessive mana reserves constantly healing their muscles bit by bit. The constant application of healing magic also meant that anything other than severe wounds would be repaired in short order. He wondered how the heroes of legend actually managed to kill these monsters.
So they were ending the initial meeting then switching over to a strategy meeting…
The glass window shattered. A black object fell into the room. The object grew black feathers and white clothes. Th… that’s—!!!
“That’s the Demon Lord’s aide, Malastriss!!!” someone shouted. Moah pulled out his sword and took a stance, facing the new enemy. Other knights in the room had already done the same.
“Hohoho… There are so many heads for me to take, I’ll have to carry them back with my feet… It has been so long, I see that you humans have evolved quite a bit.”
As soon as it finished speaking, Malastriss lunged for the knight captain with its hand out. In front of that hand, the air distorted as it summoned a black flame with its mana.
“Not so fast!!!” the vice-captain shouted, slashing at Malastriss’s side. With a vile smile, Malastriss moved its hand to point at the vice-captain instead and cast a spell.
The vice-captain was engulfed in hellish black flames.
The black flames burned him to cinders. The air was now thick with heat and the agony of death. The Japanese soldiers looked somewhat flustered. They were pretty far away from Malastriss, after all. Were all those legendary feats just rumors after all? The soldiers pointed their black staves at Malastriss. What were they trying to do?
“Fire at will!!!”
The noise they made was almost loud enough for someone’s ears to start bleeding. The four Japanese soldiers’ staves were emitting fire from one end, and superfast bullets of light were assaulting Malastriss.
It didn’t even have the opportunity to let out a death cry; Malastriss, its body chock full of holes, crumpled to the ground. Behind it, a part of the stone wall also crumbled into pieces. Everyone was speechless.
The Demon Lord’s aide, Malastriss, was a plague. The Topa Kingdom was extremely cold, so they could not raise wyverns, which were cold-blooded. Because of that, they suffered from countless magical attacks from the sky; truly times of hardship. Malastriss alone was responsible for the deaths of over 100 knights. Then, it started aiming specifically for the knight order’s leaders. Even though it did not fly itself, its overwhelming mana was a significant threat.
But now, the Japanese soldiers and their magic staves easily dealt with the demonic beast Malastriss.
“Platoon leader Momota, by killing Malastriss, you have saved us all. We cannot thank you enough.”
“But… because we did not act sooner, the knight vice-captain was…”
“What are you saying! If you were not here, we would all have been killed. That’s how powerful this beast was.”
An hour later, they held a strategy meeting to discuss the rescue of Minaisa’s residents that lasted late into the night.
Two days later, in the early morning, the advance platoon of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Special Topa Kingdom Deployment departed from the castle gate and made for the district of Minaisa.
(I’m scared… I’m so scared… someone, help us…)
Ellay, who ran a diner in the Minaisa district of Tormis, was shaking in fear. In the middle of the day, all the survivors from the Demon Lord’s invasion were gathered in the town square. Demons watched the entire area, so they couldn’t run away. There was one person who tried to escape before, but he was quickly caught then cooked right in front of everyone. The demons had laughed and pointed at the torture, making remarks like “live dancing, hahaha!” They repeated this each day, taking several people away to be eaten.
“Today will be… you, an’ you… an’ you.”
Just yesterday, her neighbor and childhood friend, a girl named Menia, was chosen. Her parents fought desperately to protect her, so they too were chosen and now all three were gone. It was a living hell. Why now… why did some terrifying creature from a fairy tale like the Demon Lord come back now? If any gods were listening, they really needed help.
She thought her other childhood friends: Gai, who became a mercenary, and Moah, who became a knight. She wondered if they would come to help. Sir Moah was stationed at the Doors to the World, though, so he might already be dead.
The kingdom’s knights tried to rescue them many times, but the Red Ogre had destroyed the main road connecting the town square to the castle gate, so it was now untraversable. She remembered an old story about the Demon Lord’s army fighting against the elves, the God of the Sun heard the prayers of the elves’ god and sent down messengers to fight them. She was an elf herself; even though she did not believe in any gods, she prayed anyway.
God! God, please! Help my people! Help everyone here! Destroy the demons! Send your messengers again! Please!!!
So she prayed… but nothing happened.
“Uhhh… and meat for today…”
The demons were choosing people to eat.
“The Demon Lord said something plain would be good today.”
“Maybe we’ll have vegetables be the main dish, then…”
All the residents felt their tension dissipate into relief.
“For the seasoning, an elf woman would be just right. You.”
A demon grabbed Ellay’s right hand.
“NOOOOOO! GOD, HEEEEEELP!!!”
“Oy, stop that.”
At that moment…
The Red Ogre went up in smoke.
A hand grenade was tossed at the Red Ogre’s feet from the side street that it was guarding.
“Over here! Hurry, take cover!!!”
The JSDF soldiers ran down the narrow street.
“Ugh, it’s getting mad!”
The hand grenade had absolutely no effect, and the Red Ogre began to run down the side street as well. It was fast!
“All right, make sure no civilians are in the line of fire!”
The soldiers all hid behind the Type 89. The Red Ogre was still running down the side street. There weren’t any other people near it.
The Type 89’s 35mm cannon roared. The 35mm was so powerful it could essentially evaporate a human body, and it opened up several large holes in the Red Ogre. It fell where it was hit, like a marionette with its strings cut.
A mob of other demons rushed at the Type 89.
A detached force of JSDF soldiers whose task was to rescue the civilians traveled through the now-dry water supply and jumped out of the water fountain in the town square. There were ten goblin lords guarding the hostages.
The goblin lords were quickly eliminated. Moah and Gai also jumped out of the water fountain.
“I can’t believe it… a plan to jump out right in the middle of all these enemies, that ain’t nothing any sane person would do,” Gai complained while looking around. His eyes stopped on a goblin lord holding the hand of an elf girl.
Gai made a beeline for the goblin lord and slashed it with his sword.
The goblin lord couldn’t defend itself and perished.
Ellay was prepared for death. A monster had caught her by the hand, intending for her to be the Demon Lord’s meal.
“Oy, stop that.”
As her hand got grabbed, there was an explosion at the Red Ogre’s feet standing at the main road. The ogre looked furious as it ran into a side street.
She could hear the sound of something big letting off an explosion. The other demons left a few behind and rushed in a group towards the sounds. Then, a person in a strange green outfit appeared from the broken water fountain in the middle of the town square. The spotted-green pattern made her feel sick at first when she mistook him for another demon, but then she realized he was human, and he held what looked like a black staff. When he used the staff, it made a loud noise as it cast some kind of offensive magic at the demons, obliterating them.
The demon holding her hand was frozen in shock. A single swordsman attacked that demon, quickly killing it. He was… someone she knew very well.
“H… Hey, Ellay, are you okay?”
It was her childhood friend, the sellsword Gai. He often came to eat at her diner. Three years ago, he tried to court her, but she gently turned him down. It was because, truthfully, mercenary work wasn’t exactly stable.
But… when she was on the verge of death, he saved her. Even though there were all these frightening demons here, he came to rescue her.
(He was… just a little bit cool there…)
Right as she was going to call out to him…
“Miss Ellay, are you all right?” a voice called out from behind her. This voice…!!! Her head whipped around at the speed of light.
“Sir… Sir Moah…”
(Oh, this is bad… I almost lost myself for a moment there. Sir Moah also came to rescue me from this horrible battlefield. Sir Moah really is my knight in shining armor! I absolutely won’t let him get away!)
“You came for me! I’m so happy!”
Unfortunately, Gai was yet to find happiness.
The rest of the demons in the town square were quickly eliminated. As planned, the Topan knight order would now leave from the castle gate to join up with them. At the same time, the JSDF began to evacuate the residents. They needed to travel 1.5 kilometers to the castle gate. It was both a short and long distance. They moved as a group together with all the citizens. After about 500 meters, they met with the knight order and continued traveling to the castle gate as a combined group.
That was when it happened.
They heard a fierce war cry.
“Damn, it’s the Blue Ogre!”
The citizens all fell into a panic.
The Red Ogre had been lured in by the soldiers wearing the green spotted clothing. Its sacrifice would save its fellow demons, and they were thankful. Then, more spotted soldiers came out of the fountain, killed the demons left behind, and gathered up the people and left for the castle gate.
That was when the Blue Ogre gathered forty orcs and started to run. This group would definitely catch up to them before they reached the castle gate. It took ten human knights to defeat a single orc. But if orcs attacked in a group, they could easily handle more than ten times their number in knights. Furthermore, they had the legendary Blue Ogre with them. It was no use. The humans thought they had rescued the hostages, but they’d soon find out that none of them were saved at all. The spotted soldiers were powerful, but this was as far as they’d go.
The spotted soldiers were lining up in the back, and they took aim at the Blue Ogre within the group of orcs. There were only about fifteen of them. If there were only that many soldiers, they couldn’t do a thing. There was no point. They probably wanted to earn a bit more time for the people to run, to protect them in whatever way they could. However, with only fifteen of them, they were just going to die themselves while gaining nearly no extra time.
Despite that, the knights kept running with the people for the castle gates. They were sacrificing another country’s soldiers to protect their own citizens. While it was an understandable sentiment, they wondered how the sacrificed soldiers felt about it?
The spotted soldiers had formed a horizontal line and pointed their black staves at the demons.
A rain of light bullets converged on the orcs. All those strong, hardy demons instantly collapsed.
The attacks continued.
The orcs were mostly all killed, but the soldiers kept shooting their bullets of light at one last demon that continued charging at them.
The Blue Ogre!!!
Their attacks had absolutely no effect on it. It was useless!!! What would they do now…
“Kijima!!! Use the Carl Gustaf!!!”
The human named Kijima was carrying an extra-large magic wand on his back. He took it out and aimed the tube at the Blue Ogre.
“All clear! Fire!!!”
Smoke came out of both the front and back of the tube, and at the same time the sound of a detonation echoed all around. An instant later, the Blue Ogre abruptly burst into pieces.
The Ground Self-Defense Force somehow dealt with the invading demons occupying the town square, and they were able to successfully rescue everyone in the northern Minaisa district of Tormis. However, it was an extremely risky mission. The demon known as the “Blue Ogre” took no damage from their smaller automatic weapons at all. They weren’t called ogres for nothing. The JSDF was completely shocked by the existence of creatures that couldn’t be hurt by guns… They belatedly realized that wyverns were also fairly impervious to handguns. This really was another world. The most effective weapons were the 35mm cannon in the initial attack and the Carl Gustaf during the evacuation that was brought along just in case.
“Well, we should at least be glad that we rescued all the civilians.”
Platoon leader Momota nodded in satisfaction.
Excerpt from Moah’s diary entry for that day
I feel like I am in the middle of history being written.
The legendary Demon Lord known only in myths, its fearsome army that conquered the continent of Fillades in the blink of an eye, was truly fighting against the elite forces of the Topa Kingdom. In the castle town of Tormis, we had to defend against the Demon Lord’s invasion while minding our losses. We’re far stronger than the coalition of races from the past since we now have the geographical advantage. Or, that should have been the case, but because of the Red and Blue Ogres, many of our men were lost to the demons. I wondered how the heroes of old were able to fight them. But today, something historical happened.
Both the Red and Blue Ogres were quickly and easily defeated by the envoys of a new emerging country, Japan. Their weapons were so powerful that I can’t even describe them using my own common sense. Those famed demons of legend were annihilated by the Japanese soldiers like they were simply pests to be exterminated.
TL note: “Momota Tarou” is pretty obvious, but the other squad leaders are references to the animals that helped Momotarou on his journey: the dog (inu, 犬), the monkey (saru, 猿), and the pheasant (kiji, 雉). I’m pretty sure the red and blue oni aren’t references to anything in Momotarou, though there is another folktale, “Naita Aka Oni,” which features prominently in the anime Re:Zero, that does star red and blue onis, but SJ doesn’t seem to be referencing that.