Wizard! Chapter 534
Uzoma Idowu was glad to be in the mid ranks of the army. He didn’t have to go in to battle first, like the lowest ranking troops. He also didn’t have to deal with the hardest jobs, like the elite troops. Not that he’d expected to ever have to actually do any of those things.
He’d only signed up for the army because it had been a job. Sure, maybe he would have had to go on an expedition to kill magical beasts or something… but as such things went, that was pretty safe. Magical beasts didn’t build castles and cannons and set traps.
When Uzoma had signed up, he’d thought it impossible to find himself in a war. I mean, who were they going to go to war with? Eclea controlled all of the land around them, and everyone got along well enough. Were they going to cross the ocean and go to war with the demons? He’d thought nobody would be stupid enough to do that, until he found himself in that very situation.
Sure, demons were demons or whatever. They’d killed a lot of people and were evil and stuff… but wasn’t that a good reason not to provoke them? Demons were reputed to be able to fight a dozen-to-one, and win. Now, Uzoma wasn’t amazing at math, but he’d at least passed arithmetic classes like everyone else. Even if he hadn’t, he could see that meant if they came with a dozen times as many soldiers as the demons had, that would at best result in far too many dead humans. Ah, but the higher ups had plans, or so they said. They were raising more troops, so all they had to do was get a foothold in the demon lands.
And they had. They took over some big port. All it cost them was a company of men. If he’d talked to the ranking officers, he knew what they would have said. “Ah, Uzomu, don’t you see? We have so many companies, it was but a small loss. Besides, we took out a platoon of demons! Guns are the great equalizers!”
Going back to the math… that meant the demons killed six men to every one of them defeated. Uzoma had to admit that, technically, that was half as much as demons were said to be able to kill. Did that make guns the great equalizers they were told? He didn’t think so. He’d watched the battle. Sure, they’d lost a company, but they had at least three times that many men firing. He’d seen a bullet hit a demon in the head… and the demon managed to run forward and chop seven men to pieces before falling under a barrage of bullets.
Maybe the higher ups were better at math. Maybe they knew things he didn’t, but Uzoma knew how many bullets he was issued. If they kept going, they could wipe out a battalion of demons. Maybe two, three battalions. Then what? They would be out of ammo, and probably men. They could capture guns and ammo from the demons… but they were of a different type than they were used to. More importantly, there were fewer guns and bullets. Not even enough to make up for a quarter of their losses.
But, fine. They’d taken over the port from a small contingent of demons. Victory. Yay. Now they had a port and many tons of rotting fish. The rotting fish made his commanders say, “See, they had to flee quickly, leaving even their food behind!” Uzoma, instead, looked at the rotting fish and thought about how they had enough rotting fish to feed the men for a month… if they could eat rotting fish. Where was the other food? The valuables? For that matter… where were the munitions they were supposed to capture? Well, the last one was easy to answer. They were somewhere in and around the various craters where the defenses of the port had once been… because the demons blew up everything they could once they were sure they were going to lose.
But it was fine. They were going to get reinforcements and supplies in a month or two. All they had to do was hold out until then… except they instead chose to march inland to take over a castle. On the way they torched a bunch of perfectly good buildings in perfectly good cities. Though those efforts were pretty half-assed, because not all of the buildings were wooden and torchable. Still, they put up the appearances. So far, they’d still not seen more demons than the platoon in the port and maybe some scouts in the distance. The thing was, the figures in the distance might not have been demons. Uzoma saw at least one of them didn’t have any of that crazy colored skin. Sure, it was unfashionably pale, but that was definitely humanlike skin.
Uzoma would have liked to make the decisions about what the army did, as long as that decision could be “never even leave Eclea”. Or… New Eclea, he supposed, since Eclea itself wasn’t in support of the war even though they were like… miles away. Uzoma wondered if he should have tried to migrate across the sea and join their army. It didn’t seem to be doing anything at all!
Instead, they had spent a week marching to get to a castle… and they found the castle had its front gate open. Uzoma just wished the castle had been abandoned. Inside the castle there was just one demon. That demon made Uzoma very, very glad he’d been promoted out of the front ranks. He didn’t have the best view of what was happening, because of all the people in the way. People, and bodies. He could still see the demon, though, even with maybe half an army in front of him, and probably a company of bodies in the gatehouse. That was because the demon was riding on a tiger. A dire tiger, he supposed, since regular tigers weren’t big enough to fit their jaws around a man’s ribcage.
Orders from the officers were to wear down the demon and the tiger. That was fine and all… but they didn’t have an infinite amount of ammunition. They had to save some for later. Especially since the tiger and demon didn’t seem to notice they were being shot. The armor they were wearing must have been seriously magical. Uzoma concentrated. He’d only just barely passed the first year of magical studies… but that meant he could see mana. The answer… was very magic armor. Still, the demon had to get tired eventually. He couldn’t hold out forever… but Uzoma supposed that he didn’t have to. He wasn’t alone, after all. There was that army coming around the side of the castle that nobody had really noticed because they were all standing around like idiots.
Then the first good order of the campaign was finally issued, and Uzoma happily followed the order to retreat. He would have been happier if he knew they weren’t just going to regroup and maybe wait for the cannons, but any break in the fighting was good with him.