His Soul is Marching On to Another World; or, the John Brown Isekai (Fall of the Slave Harem)
Tonight was a beautiful night like any other. Scant rays of moonlight shimmered through the clouds, resulting in quite an enchanting scene if one were to stop and look around in the rain. Crickets chirped in a manner that stood between a chorus and straight up cacophony, somehow managing to be calming instead of annoying.
Under the moonlight was enslaved maid café waitress turned abolitionist catgirl wizard Ayomide, leading men into battle as they skewered their enemies from above. “Alright, ready? Fire!” Her shouts resonated throughout the mountains, though her voice was drowned out by the chaos below. Another slew of spears made their way down under their command, only adding to the death and destruction occurring below them.
Their enemy below couldn’t see them, as Ayomide’s group carried no sources of light. Even then, they stayed on a cliff that overlooked the section where the count’s men had camped. There was only road leading from Casamonu to the top of Mount Curry, so finding them wasn’t too hard.
What’d usually be hard would be leading a group of men in the dark. It was already hard to see under the moonlight for your average human, not to mention the lack of moon or light due to the congregation of never-ending rainclouds.
However, Ayomide was no human.
This was why she had been chosen to lead this ambush: cat(girl)s had the ability to see in the dark. Her group had slowly managed to find their way thanks to the guidance of their semi-feline captain.
Brown, of course, had also joined this ambush. He thought that it’d be quite rude to cozy himself up in the estate while the freemen were fighting. “I wish we had catgirls back in the United States!” he shouted while sending another spear down the cliff. “You would have helped me out a lot in Kansas.” Having night vision was quite a significant advantage in warfare; one that’d not be realized on Earth until World War II (which Brown had no idea about). The cogs in old Brown’s head had already began turning upon realizing that he had this sort of advantage, and he was capitalizing on this advantage right now.
The freemen didn’t know how many they had felled, for all they knew all their shots had missed, but they didn’t intend to face such a force anyways. This was mostly an attack to sow fear, cause confusion, and maybe rack up some casualties on the enemy side. It seemed to be working, judging from the sounds of screams, shouts, and small explosions coming from down below.
Suddenly, the dark night sky was lit up by a small ball of light flying up to the sky from the camp.
“They’re casting flares!” Ayomide stated the obvious as she had to shield her eyes from the overwhelming light. Becoming visible under light would be quite bad for their prospects of survival. “Old man, we should retreat!” A few more balls of light joined the fray while she was trying to inform Brown.
Brown couldn’t answer for a few seconds. He and everyone else had been stunned by the sudden lightshow. Something like this, Brown thought, could be used as a weapon in the future. Having invented the concept of a flashbang, Brown quickly reoriented himself back to the environment. “Indeed we should. Retreat!”
“Alright, just hold my hand people.” The ambushing squad locked their hands together in a chain that eventually led back to Ayomide, who functioned as a living-and-breathing night vision equipment. This was how they had made their way to here without being lost, and this was also how they’d make their way back. “We ready?”
“I believe we’re ready, young lady. With our Heavenly Father watching over us, let us skedaddle!”
“Is it over?” Count Leon reluctantly peeked out from under the shield of one of his retainers. The rain of spears, unlike the usual rain in Northern Gemeinplatz, seemed to have ceased completely.
However, the chaos in camp hadn’t ceased.
Men were still running around, shooting arrows, bolts and magic towards the mountains flanking them in hopes of hitting their assailants. Leon wasn’t too surprised: this was to be expected from an army he had gathered on the cheap. What surprised him was the boldness of the freemen in attacking a superior force. It seemed that those savages were not going to go down without a fight.
No matter the fighting spirit of the fugitives, Leon first had to restore order in his camp. “Hilmi! Are you alive?”
“Yes, sir!” Hilmi, Leon’s servant and right-hand man, crawled from under another shield. “Do you need me to…” He nodded towards the entrance to the tent they were in, where one could see what was happening outside.
“Yes, I need you to calm the men down.” Leon liked Hilmi, for he always knew what his liege wanted. “Also, try to get a preliminary count of the casualties.”
“Right away, sir.” Hilmi got up, dusted his clothes, and went outside. There he got on his stead, and rode around while shouting for men to calm the hell down in the name of their lord. The cacophony outside slowed down, and things seemed to go back to normal when Hilmi entered the tent once more. He presented his report based on the observations he had made while riding around. “There seem to be a few casualties, along with a whole lot more who were wounded during the chaos.”
“As I expected.” This report didn’t contain anything that Leon couldn’t have figured out by taking a peek outside. “Get some men to guard the high-up places.” Setting up simple patrols hadn’t crossed his mind before. The count wasn’t exactly what one might call a “military genius”. “We’ll keep marching on as usual when dawn breaks.” He then went back to bed without saying anything else.
“Understood, sir.” Hilmi bowed down and left the tent to let the count have a good night’s sleep.
The dawn broke once more, Mount Curry waking up as it has done so for an uncountable number of years. Seeing the light, the cicadas had gone quiet and the birds had once again revealed themselves to hunt them down.
Sunlight came a bit late to the valley where the count’s men rested. The count’s men found the corpses of their slain allies upon waking up, for they were too tired and afraid to collect bodies during the night. It was quite a gruesome sight, to see so many of the dead strewn around so casually.
Some shed a tear or two for their allies; many began working on getting the corpses collected and covered with sheets as to keep this sight out of mind. Around a dozen corpses were collected in half an hour and laid side-by-side while they were identified. Those close to the dead were tasked with carrying the corpses so that they could be given a proper funeral.
Shakira, instead of her ridiculously enormous sword, now carried the body of Shakir. His corpse was slumped over her shoulders, covered by tent cloth donated to her by Sir Baha for this purpose. They didn’t have much in common other than their names, but it was still a harrowing thing to carry the stiff, cold body of another human being.
A similar emotion permeated throughout the camp. Yesterday’s fleeting enthusiasm to plunder was replaced with the realization that anybody could die in the following battle, and for what purpose? Most of the men were not seasoned soldiers who were ready to face such questions.
Shoulders were slumped, heads looked down, the prospect of mortality faced. Brown hadn’t faced them himself, but they had been made to face something slightly worse than old John Brown’s wrath.
Still, the men needed to acquire money, please their liege(s) and go to battle. They began dismantling their camp and got ready to head out for the Algernon Estate.
“Hey, you Hangvuki bastards!” One group who was not packing up was the four cultivators sent by Long Dong. They surrounded the Korean mercenaries sent by Kim Seong-min, their leader looking so furious that the space between his brows could constitute yet another valley by itself. “You shot our comrade, didn’t you?!” Next to him was a fellow sect member holding a body, whose white robes had been stained by blood centered around a bullet hole.
The most fancily dressed of the mercenaries, clearly their leader, looked at the sect leader before turning back to his own men to ask a question. “Jeo namjaga mwolaneun geojyo? Jung-gug-eoleul aneun bun-i issnayo?” All of his comrades shrugged; these Koreans didn’t know nor understand the language that the cultivator was using. However, they could still see the corpse with an excess of lead inserted via the bullet hole, so the mercenaries understood that they had committed a minor case of friendly fire during the fighting and that the man in front of them was angry because of it.
“Young master Yun, I don’t think these men understand us…” Yun’s disciple bowed down while humbly correcting his master.
“Then I’ll make them understand.” Yun slowly walked towards the mercenary captain, intending to be as threatening as possible. The captain had no time to react as the young master grabbed him by the collar and raised him up. All of the mercenaries raised their rifles in reaction. All of the barrels pointed towards Yun.
“Mwo?!” The captain’s legs frantically swung around as he tried to escape Yun’s grasp. He had to save himself one way or another. “Balpohada!” So, he gave the order to fire.
At once the barrels of the M1s lit up, the bullets heading towards the young master. “Hmph. Is this what you mortals call an ‘attack’?” Without letting go of the mercenary captain, Yun quickly jumped up to avoid the bullets. He met one of the incoming bullets with his feet, which he had made as hard as titanium through clever manipulation of qi, kicking the bullet like it was a football. The bullet kicked by him, violating several laws of logic and physics, was deflected towards the head of the captain. The other bullets went toward Yun’s disciples, who easily dodged the projectiles.
All of the above happened in the blink of an eye. To outside observers, it looked as if the captain was shot by his own men. A few blades of grass were uprooted from the ground due to the quick movements of the young master and his disciples.
“Hmph. We’re even.” Yun kept holding on to the captain’s newly deceased body while staring daggers at the remaining mercenaries. One could feel his killing intent as if it was a tangible object. “For now. You are like frog meat compared to the fine swans that are our men, being nowhere equal.” With this he threw the dead captain as if he was a piece of garbage he had picked up from the street.
The mercenaries were shaken further, for they were already stirred from the attack yesterday, by the sudden death of their captain by what they thought to be their own hands. Their knees were weak, hands shaking like crazy, with cold sweat racing down their brows.
Yun and his disciples turned around, pretending nothing happened. Nobody who witnessed the scene dared speak out against the cultivators, leading the scene to become as quiet as a morgue.
Yun turned around one last time to meet the mercenaries directly eye-to-eye.
“I’d kill you all if not for the orders of Master Long Dong. Be glad that you’ll be alive to face the Demon King with us.”
Then he continued on his merry way, and so did the rest of the camp continue their way towards the Algernon Estate.