Ready Steady Go
Upper note: Octobrist Organization's gofer... I mean, Olmine!
Side note: Comics volume 1 on sale July 7th! (details on Shonen Gahosha's HP!)
Chapter 14 - Ready Steady Go [T.N.: There is a number of songs with this name. Most probably, in this case it's a reference to the L'Arc-en-ciel song used in the Fullmetal Alchemist anime.]
Toyohisa: We have 20 swords and armors from the soldiers we killed.
Also, we have two horses, but they can't ride them.
So, we will use the animals for the strategy I came up with.
The armors are fine.
The problem is that only one or two of them knows how to wield a sword.
Oda: Talking about it, they were really motivated to making bows.
So, now Yoichi is helping them to make bows and arrows.
And they are making bows and arrows like there was no tomorrow.
It seems like they were experts in this.
Though I wish for some spears.
A long range weapon like a spear reduces the fear in battle.
Even a peasant can kill a warrior with a long spear.
Heh heh heh.
Toyohisa: Obviously you have no means to know, but
Akechi Mitsuhide was killed by poor farmers while fleeing in Fushimi.
Oda: You kidding!
Hah! That kumquat-head saw it coming!
Long live the poor farmers of Fushimi! I exempt them from taxes for the next one million years!
Toyohisa (grinning): Either way, Nobunaga.
You seem to have lots of fun while plotting nasty stuff.
Oda (grinning): The battle itself is only the consequence of what you did before.
I believe that wars are actually waged, fought and won before the battle.
Although nobody except that monkey Hideyoshi understood this truth. [T.N.: Toyotomi Hideyoshi, aide of Nobunaga and ruler of Japan after Nobunaga.]
(The elves are surprised to find the soldier's armors and weapons inside a house.)
Elves: We didn't know why the corpses of the dead soldiers disappeared overnight.
So, it was you who gathered them!!
Yoichi: Choose any gear you want.
I hope you don't mind the blood.
(O chosen ones, washeth them with thy own hands)
Yoichi: I guess it's better not to tell them what we did with the bodies of those soldiers.
Toyohisa beheaded the bodies, and buried the heads in a common tomb, which is fine.
The problem is what Nobu is doing with the remaining parts of the body.
(Olmine, Oda and Toyohisa are walking in a hill.)
Olmine: What a terrible stench!
Oda: We gave a proper burial to their heads.
So, we will use their bodies to our purposes.
Toyohisa: A "saltpeter mound", eh? [T.N.: See end of the translation for a lengthy note on this. Beware of possible spoilers!]
Oda: I mixed soil, grass, excrements and the corpses of those soldiers.
I presume it will take some two years till we can get the first crystals.
Oda: This is something I learned from my enemies.
By the way, we have to forbid those elven villagers from entering this mountain.
Or else, they may get sick from diseases unknown to us.
Olmine (almost throwing up): Ulp.
Toyohisa: What are you going to do with the earth we digged from the bathrooms?
Oda: It's easy to get charcoal. But so far, we have no sulfur.
So, we will leave it as is for the moment.
Olmine: This is just too much!!
I can't believe you could do this to the bodies of those soldiers!
Oda: What are you talking about?
Bury them as is and the same thing will happen. Maggots will eat them till they become dust once again.
We are just speeding the process. We can't let precious resources go to waste.
Toyohisa: We washed and cleaned their heads.
We gave them proper burial as human beings.
So, if you want to pray, pray to those heads.
If you believe that shit and piss are dirty,
remember that me and you are also bags of flesh, full of shit and piss inside.
Do you think that the soul dwells in shit filled flesh
instead of decently cleaned and buried heads?
That would be nonsense.
Olmine: Now I see... the main difference between me and them
is not knowledge, technology or culture.
But it is the views on life and death.
Oda: Hey, Olminboobs.
Olmine: Are you so senile to mistake only the last part of my name?
It's so disgusting that I can't even get mad at you.
Oda: I want that yellow, stinky stuff you can get near volcanoes.
It's something we call "sulfur".
Can you get it for us?
That stuff that smells like powdered fart.
Olmine: What? Sulfur?
Yes, I think it's possible to get it.
But what are you going to do with it?
Oda: It doesn't matter. Just bring it to us, will ya?
Ask your I-don't-know-the-name organization.
Uh... I don't think we can do this for free.
How much are you willing to pay us?
Oda: SHUT UP!!
I will pay you after conquering some 5 or 6 countries!
Just shut up and bring the damn sulfur as soon as possible, dammit!!
Olmine: Earth from bathrooms? Corpses? Sulfur?
What are they planning to do!?
Somebody please give me a clue!!
(elsewhere, the elves are practicing archery.)
Elves: That was great!
Did you see that? Almost bullseye!
Right, now it's my turn!!
They are getting good just too fast.
We were originally archery experts.
But for a long time, we were forbidden to make bows and to touch them.
But everyone enjoyed archery when we were kids, before the war.
Yoichi: Right, I can't lose!!
(Yoichi shoots and hits bullseye. He grins to the elves.)
(Yoichi shoots and shoots, hitting exactly the same place.)
Elves: ALL RIGHT, WE GOT IT!
WE DON'T KNOW WHAT WE DID TO YOU, BUT WE ARE REALLY SORRY!
WE UNDERSTOOD THAT YOU ARE THE NUMBER ONE! YOU ARE THE BEST!
NOW, PLEASE STOP! YOU ARE DESTROYING ALL ARROWS!!
(It's dusk. The Drifters and the elves are gathered.)
Toyohisa: Very well.
Now, we will attack the village.
Kill every single one of them.
We won't just take our village back.
We will go right to the castle of the local governor---
--- AND WE WILL KILL HIM.
Oda (surprised): W...
Toyohisa: Those two told me the reason
why there are no young women in this village.
We elves can only have children once a year.
And when the time arrives, all young women are taken to the local governor.
Oda: Oh, I see now.
So, they are really trying, aren't they?
To wipe you from this world.
Toyohisa: Recover your women and your children to be a man once again.
They reduced you to slaves in this world.
Now, it's your turn to reduce them to slaves--- in hell!
Toyohisa: If there's something like right and wrong in this world,
then right is what you are going to do now.
Even if you die, you can face your ancestors and say, full of pride:
that you died fighting the fight.
That you died protecting your loved ones.
Recover your women. Recover your children.
Recover your country.
Recover your honor to be once again the mighty men you were!
Oda: This man is indeed a military commander from the very beginning.
He has the necessary power for a general fighting a war.
The power to move people towards battlefield.
THE POWER CALLED "INSANITY".
(It's night. Soldiers are doing the patrol at the village.)
Soldier (spitting): Ptoo!
Where are those fucking long ears?
Soldier 2: Have no idea.
They say we are going to search the nearby villages for them tomorrow.
Soldier (laughing): Hahahah, we are going to crush those villages as well
if we find them long ears hiding there?
Soldier 2: Probably.
(A sound is heard. An arrow pierces one soldier.)
(Articles start to appear on a newspaper.)
Side text: The samurai who fought in the Warring States Era will start the conquest of the country in an unknown universe!!
TO BE CONTINUED
Foot note: Drifters 14 end
Continues on the next issue (on sale July 30th).
Extensive Translator's Note: About saltpeter (硝石,"Shouseki") production in feudal Japan
Probably not a few people have already figured out what Toyohisa, Oda and Yoichi are up to: production of gunpowder.
Gunpowder is essentially a mixture made from three products: nitrate, charcoal and sulfur, having a standard proportion of 75% nitrate, 15% charcoal and 10% sulfur.
Among them, nitrate - obtained from saltpeter - is the most critical component, since it supplies oxygen for the exothermic chemical reaction (combustion) to take place.
And how was saltpeter (potassium nitrate) obtained in Japan? Besides importation, there were three major ways to produce it.
1) Gathering the black soil from under old houses, mixing it with water to get calcium nitrate, which in turn was heated and mixed with ash, obtaining potassium nitrate, which was concentrated and filtered to obtain its crystals. This is the oldest method known in Japan, introduced together with firearms (16th century), and largely used in most places till the end of the Tokugawa shogunate. The problem was (is) the low efficiency of this process.
For those who are into chemistry, the (very) simplified chemical equations are as follows:
1) 2NH3+3O2 => 2H2O+2HNO2 -> aerobic microorganisms transform ammonia into nitrous acid
2) 2HNO2+O2 => 2HNO3 -> nitrous acid is oxidized into nitric acid
3) 2HNO3+CaO => Ca(NO3)2+H2O -> nitric acid reacts with calcium from the soil and becomes calcium nitrate
4) Ca(NO3)2+K2CO3 => 2KNO3+CaCO3 -> calcium nitrate reacts with vegetable cinders (potash) and becomes potassium nitrate
2) Gathering several grains and herbs, like tobacco, sagebrush, buckwheat a.s.o., which are rich in nitrates, mixing it with insect excrement and water in a specially designed hole. After a few years, under the right conditions, it was possible to have a steady production of saltpeter. This was the method used in mount Gokayama, now Toyama Prefecture, since 16th century, and the most famous method used in feudal Japan.
3) The third and the last one is the method used in Drifters so far. Called "saltpeter mound method", a mound was built, with soil, water, grains/herbs, and excrements (urine and feces) from humans and animals, among other stuff. After a few years, you would have saltpeter on the surface of the mound.
However, there seems to be a small inconsistency in the Drifters manga. It seems that this method was indeed very popular in Satsuma (homeland of Toyohisa), but it was introduced in Japan only in the 19th century, some centuries after Toyohisa's era. So, how could he know about this method (not to mention Oda Nobunaga)?
For those who can read Japanese, here is a good academic article that describes Japanese saltpeter production techniques in further detail:
As for the other materials for gunpowder production, charcoal was something that could easily be obtained, and sulfur could come from volcanic areas. As Japan had (has) plenty of volcanic areas, it wasn't really that great a problem.
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