After that I got all the info I needed from the torture. It appears that his tale about the 500 soldiers was fairly accurate.
However, it would take time for them to realize that the soldiers that came to the village wouldn’t be coming back. Plus there weren’t 500 soldiers available for deployment at the supply base, they would have to request reinforcements from the Empire.
This meant that we had at least 10 days before trouble would come knocking on our doors.
I couldn’t waste this preparation time by any means.
「In war it’s more effective to fire a barrage as a group instead of individually. It will hit their formations and cause greater casualties. We need to train so that you can all fire on my signal.」
I announced to the 100 elves gathered at the firing range.
Every morning I set aside two hours for training. Everyone had different obligations so more training time wasn’t possible right now. Even so, these two hours daily should be enough for crossbows.
They were all different ages and sexes. I required them to be able to pull back the crossbow string and use wind warding magic. Those requirements left us with 100 people.
As for the crossbows I had made using the metal I’d stolen from the base…I was able to distribute 100 and had 20 left over.
If you included the metal I used for farming tools, I barely had any left. However, just the other day I got ten more sets of armor and weapons from those soldiers. I was using them to make a tool to hamper our enemy’s advance.
「Your target is the enemy 50 meters before you! Line up into two rows of fifty apiece!」
They hurried to comply and lined up into two rows of 50.
「Set your arrows. The goal is to finish within 15 seconds! Ready…Start!」
I counted the seconds as I watched the elves.
When they first started training they were horribly awkward, but now they were quite used to it. They were able to accomplish their goal within 10 seconds.
「Alright, everyone did well. Next is to aim properly within 10 seconds. First row aim!」
All fifty of the front row raised their crossbows and aimed. Their smooth motions gave off a dignified air.
I cried out as soon as 10 seconds passed and the arrows flew out.
They were on a straight course for the ‘enemies’.
Their target was a wooden log with a soldier’s helmet on it. It had a target attached to where the stomach should be.
I had wanted to melt the helmets down into raw materials, but in order to make the targets look like enemy soldiers, increase their fighting spirit, and make it easier to fire at real humans later I had to do this.
The best case scenario would be for them to recognize people wearing this helmet as ‘targets’.
There was also a reason I had them aim for the stomach instead of the head or heart.
I would be applying poison to the arrow tips that would incapacitate when it hits. The larger the target and the less it moves the better.
Plus reducing the chance of death had some benefits as well. We’d be able to receive ransoms from more valuable soldiers and it would slow down the enemy by making them go back for their injured comrades. Rather than killing one, it was better to injure one and force another two to carry him back.
「Hit confirmed! Switch rows!」
At my words the front row quickly retreated behind the rear and the back row stepped forward.
I cried out as the new row lifted their crossbows to aim. The row which had just fired was reloading their crossbows.
Another volley flew out. The arrows flew straight towards the wooden pole.
「Hit confirmed! Switch rows!」
Like a replay of what had occurred before, the front row retreated behind and the rear row stepped forward with newly set arrows.
I repeated this process twenty times.
「All members rest! Un! The hit ratio has finally exceeded 90%. Good job everyone.」
I said and turned to praise the villagers with a smile.
「The switch between front and back row has become smooth as well. The goal of a full volley every thirty seconds has taken shape. It was surprising to see just how far you were able to progress.」
This training was a method to minimize the crossbow’s weakness. It was a small trick to rid it of its inability to rapid fire.
This reduced reload time by switching between two firing lines.
Even so it was far slower than a normal bow’s rapid fire. In exchange the crossbow bolt barrage had far more killing power. It was on a far different level than the scattered firing of the past.
「Chief Cyril I think we can beat the Empire hands down like this.」
「Damn straight, look at that. If this was real combat their stomachs would be full of arrows by now.」
「Seriously, like this it’ll barely be a challenge. These crossbows are way easier to use than bows.」
They were all pleased that their skills were improving.
In truth their speed of improvement was abnormal.
The secret to this lay in their eyes.
Elves have incredible dynamic vision that can track an arrow flying at 360 km/h. This was something impossible for humans. They could only estimate using trajectories. Thanks to that they could only adjust after many trials, the elves could instead see exactly what was going on and remember it. This difference was quite huge.
Furthermore, we had excellent senses of distance by birth. In order to hit properly you needed to grasp the distance between your target and yourself. We elves barely needed any training for that.
「If we can maintain this kind of skill then we can try and increase the distance to 100 meters.」
If we maintained our range at only 50 meters it would truly be unrealistic to beat those 500 soldiers. However if we were able to extend our range to 100 meters we could surely deal with it.
「Uheee, can we?」
「Oof, I’m lacking some confidence…」
「I can do it~!」
I turned to see them all joking around. It looks like they’d gained confidence from these few days of training.