Madan no Ou to Vanadis:Volume 07 Chapter 2
Chapter 2 - Cornered, and No Way Out
It was when the sky of the east was starting to brighten that Tigre and the others returned to Fort Lux. It took them some time to pass through the forest at night.
Ludra, who welcomed them at the back gate facing the forest, immediately arranged so that the injured people were carried to the rooms, and ordered the remaining people to rest in the vacant rooms. And after accommodating all the soldiers, he stacked jute bags filled with earth and sand inside the back gate.
“Olga, Matvey, you should also rest for the time being.”
As Tigre said so, Matvey bowed and walked away, but Olga, without saying anything, did not move from the spot. As she did not intend to leave the youth’s side, her pupils of black pearl were appealing to him. As Tigre revealed a wry smile, he decided to let her do as she pleased.
While walking the corridor inside the Fort alongside Ludra, Tigre checked with him.
“Have you received my letter?”
“Yes. As soon as I finished reading the letter, I began the preparations; about half of food, spare weapons, and other goods have already been carried outside. Even regarding the mechanism of the main gate of the table, by the sunset.”
Tigre, with a face that could not hide his surprise, intently stared at Ludra, who answered with a mild smile. The red-haired knight looked puzzled at that reaction.
“What’s the matter?”
“……No, I was just surprised at your quick action. I appreciate it.”
Before launching the night attack, Tigre had sent a letter to Ludra. Its contents said to abandon Fort Lux without putting on a resistance, and of course, carry out all the goods outside.
It did not mean that they let Elliot army obtain this Fort unscathed. After crossing the blades with the three thousand soldiers, who were defending this place, shedding their blood, and suffering several hundreds of casualties, Tigre and the others finally captured it. So by requesting to abandon it now, Tigre had expected Ludra to be reluctant, and was even thinking of how to convince him.
But, Ludra rode on Tigre’s plan without hesitation. In contrast, the youth harbored doubt to the quickness of that decision and the lack of attachment (to the Fort).
---No. It might just be that, like me, he hardly had time to think.
As he shook his head to brush away the thought that welled up in his mind, Tigre moved to the next question.
“How far have the villagers escaped?”
“Those lagging furthest behind are at less than half a day on foot from this Fort to the South……Is what I can say. Maybe also because there were loads, they seemed to have a lot of trouble passing through the forest.”
“Less than half a day, huh……”
Tigre groaned. Considering that they left the village at noon yesterday, it was not that late. But, taking into account the situation, he had wanted them to have escaped a little farther.
“We should gain a little more time. Was there contact from Tallard?”
Ludra stopped smiling and shook his head with an apologetic look.
“I will once again send a messenger today. Since we also have to report about the current status and future plans.”
Agreeing with Ludra’s words, Tigre talked about the night attack.
“There were a lot of injured. If possible, I would like to send them to Valverde by the end of the day.”
“Understood. It will be difficult, but I will see what I can do.”
Though Ludra put on a pensive look, he undertook it. Another battle would begin today or tomorrow. As he agreed not to hold a castle battle, he also shared the feeling of wanting to let the injured escaped first.
When Tigre mentioned the squad of longbows, Ludra put on a stern look.
“It’s probably the squad of Lord Hamish. It’s a man close to Prince Elliot. Though he adopted a neutral position in this civil war, it’s certain that he was secretly keeping in touch with Elliot.”
“How far can they shoot an arrow?”
“I would say 300 Alsins for anyone in their squad. I have heard that Lord Hamish, who is their chief, can shoot a target at four hundred Alsins or more.”
Tigre held his breath. Though it was an impossible feat even for him, he naturally took it for granted. Although there would also be the problem of the power necessary to pull the bowstring, if anything, the size of the bow was different. However, the required power and the quick firing of a longbow were inferior to that of an ordinary bow. He could do nothing but to find a chance of victory on this point.
“By the way, is there anyone other than Lord Hamish, the General, whom Prince Elliot trusts?”
“There were many well-known people, but most of them have been killed during the six months of this civil war. Since the pirates are the main constituents of his army now, I suspect that those who survived were surely left on the defense of the Main Island.”
After they talked about the futures plans, Tigre also decided to rest and parted from Ludra.
He walked along the corridor within the Fort side-by-side with Olga, who was silently standing nearby since a little while ago. Though the location of the room assigned to Olga was far, Tigre kept her company until there.
Olga opened the door of her room. As she started entering the room, she suddenly stopped, and looked back at the youth.
Although Olga hesitated for an instant to speak to Tigre, who revealed a puzzled face, she changed her mind and spoke.
“Tigre, I think you take too much upon yourself.”
In her face, in which childishness still remained, her eyes of obsidian retaining a quiet determination, staring at the youth.
“When the time comes, Tigre, Matvey and I will sneak into the enemy camp and save Sophia Obertas. Aside from that, we have no other purpose.”
Tigre looked over the 14-year-old Vanadis with a face which showed surprise for an instant. Revealing a smile, he put his hand on her small head and lightly patted it instead of thanking her.
“Thank you. But, I’m fine with this.”
If he were to toss aside what he was now taking upon himself, he would indeed temporarily take it easy.
However, he would immediately pay the price. The regret accompanied by the weight, the depth and the darkness of more than what he was holding would drag Tigre’s heart into the bottom of the darkness.
Besides, there were also things, in which Tigre could not give up. The youth knew well in the bottom of his heart that he could not allow himself to escape from this situation.
“Rather than me, it’s alright with you, Olga? This battle will become more troublesome, you know?”
As she subtly changed her deadpan and revealed a light smile, Olga smoothly parted from Tigre’s hand and went in her room. She closed the door with the short words “good night”.
Tigre also said good night over the door, and decided to go take a rest.
It was later after Tigre went into his room that he realized that his mind somewhat felt at ease thanks to the conversation with her.
Burning the villages in addition to the night attack might have paid off, since Elliot army did not appear on that day.
It was the next morning that they passed through the forest on the north side of the Fort and showed up.
Seemingly keeping their pace instead of dropping the speed march, the number of pirates, who appeared one after another as if being pushed out of the forest, exceeded twenty thousand. Though their morale was high and they surrounded the Fort while raising a beast-like cry, they soon noticed that something was strange.
There were no enemy figures on the walls. Moreover, even the banners, which would be floating on the top of the walls of the Fort, were nowhere to be found. The whole Fort was also too quiet.
The pirates, who were at the front of the Fort, were even more astonished.
The main gate was greatly opened and the courtyard was visible. As expected, they also harbored suspicion about this. As they took their distance and surrounded the Fort, some of them headed toward Elliot to report the situation.
The reaction of the Prince leading the pirates was a curt (aloof) command.
“I will give a special reward. Gather about fifty volunteers and make them assault.”
Elliot was not in the mood to spend too much time before such a trap.
“The enemy’s aim is obvious. They want to confuse us and gain time even if a little. Don’t yield before such petty tricks.”
They spent nearly a half koku to gather fifty people. Though their first few steps were careful, they resolved themselves and started running at once. As they passed through the main gate, it looked like they had achieved the invasion of the Fort.
Immediately after, their steps sank along with a muffled sound. When they cried “Aaah!” it was already too late; all of them fell into a hole which had been cleverly hidden.
Though the depth of the hole was only about to the height of their waist, dozens of logs started falling on them the moment they fell in the hole. A rope had been stretched around the bottom of the hole, and when a weight was put on it, it became a mechanism that pulled out the logs.
While the logs collided, unpleasant sounds enough to crush a human overlapped in succession and drowned out the miserable screams. Head and arms’ bones shattered, flesh was torn off, and blood and body fluid splashed. When those, who barely survived, unsteadily crawled out from the hole, they were defeated with spear by the soldiers who were hidden.
The pirates who were outside of the Fort and were watching the course of events, did not also have any leisure to go help their comrades. This was because the soldiers of Tallard army, who were hiding inside the main gate, quickly closed the gate.
And thus, before getting into the actual battle (full-scale battle), Elliot's army lost fifty pirates.
While having a meal on top of the walls, the trio Tigre, Olga and Matvey received the report that the fifty enemies, who charged, were annihilated.
The content of the meal was bread, water and dried cod fish fillets. The carrots and beans were grilled to such extent that there were burnt marks. Since the dried cod fish was too salty, they were eating while resting the tongue in others things.
As he saw off the soldier, who hurriedly returned to his post, Tigre swallowed the half-eaten bread and stirred his darkish red hair with a face, which seemed to say “I’m beaten”.
“Don’t do things you aren’t used to doing. It was as Lim said.”
What Tigre tried to do here was a plan that he read from an old book during the half year he had spent in Zchted. Hide the soldiers’ figures, lower all the banners, and leave the main gate open to make it look like there was indeed a trap. By doing so, the enemy would either be wary and retreat or stay put on their position.
By the way, as Tigre, who read this plan, consulted Lim, the reaction of the girl, who assumed the teacher role, was cold.
“Unless a very renowned person devises it, it’s unrealistic.”
By agreeing whether or not to execute it, only a half koku could be gained. Compared with the time and effort it took, the poor results were innumerable.
Olga and Matvey respectively sat down on Tigre's left and right sides.
As it was the first time for the Vanadis with light pink-colored hair to eat pickled carrots, she grandly frowned (grimaced) just by nibbling a bite. Though she tried to spit it out, she reluctantly bore it as Tigre’s and her eyes met; Matvey was vigorously nibbling the carrots.
“Olga-dono, is it your first time eating this?”
“I can’t understand why you make it pickled. Even though it’s delicious raw.”
“I think that for those used to eating this way, the raw ones are somewhat insipid. And they also have a bad smell. Well, you’ll soon get used to it.”
Though Olga looked up with reproachful eyes at Matvey, who laughed brightly, it could not be helped since there was only this food. Taking into account the coming battle, she had no choice but to eat.
“Tigre, which one do you prefer?”
Olga, who ate the pickled carrots, looked at Tigre. The youth twisted his neck.
“I don’t particularly have a preference, but I’m used to eating the raw ones.”
There was not any specific reason to it; it was simply because when he was living in Alsace, there were many opportunities where he ate the raw ones. When he inspected a village of the territory from autumn around winter, he would often get the carrots, which had just been harvested. Of course he nibbled them raw there.
To Tigre’s reply, Olga returned a relieved smile. While heartwarmingly looking at such an Olga, the youth remembered his maid Teita. Teita was also not too fond of pickled vegetables.
---I wonder about Ellen, Lim and Mira. And also Rurick and the others......
The faces of the people he wanted to see appeared continuously in his mind. ‘I must return’, Tigre thought. ‘I can’t forever be in a place like this’.
“But well, it’s quite the spectacle.”
Matvey, who finished eating the carrots, sighed looking at the situation below while hiding himself in a parapet. The number twenty thousand or more, which was seen under the sunlight, was frightful enough to overwhelm this undaunted former sailor. The East, the West, and the South were all filled with pirates outside the walls.
Their figures were also sparse into the deep black forest, which was spreading in the North.
At the moment, the pirates surrounded the Fort and showered their roar toward the walls; but just that was probably enough to whither (atrophy) the soldiers. When turning to look at the courtyard, one could clearly see that the soldiers’ movements were awkward.
---Well, it’s normal, since there are only two hundred of them in the Fort now.
As the enemy was twenty thousand, they would indeed face an enemy numbered one hundred times their number. Though it was also a very bad idea to attack an enemy ten times superior numerically like they did during the night attack the other day, this situation could not be compared with it.
Tigre and the others taking meal in such a place was also an acting to show the enemy that there was a composed Commander.
Ludra, who was the General Commander, was not here. He had gone to investigate the underground waterways of the Fort, and the underground passage leading outside from there. The underground passage was something that was dug by commanding the soldiers when they attacked the Fort.
To make up for that, Tigre and the others had to show their dignified figures to the soldiers.
“By the way, what would be a good way to do it?”
Without being able to come up with a breakthrough plan, Tigre sought assistance from the two people on both his sides. Olga raised her hand.
“I propose a one-on-one fight with Prince Elliot.”
“Matvey, do you have nothing to propose?”
Deciding to do as if he did not hear the words of the 14-year-old Vanadis, Tigre asked the former sailor, who contracted (shrank) his big body narrow. Matvey folded his arms and groaned.
“How about saying that we surrender and prolong the negotiations to buy time?”
“It would be useless. If they were willing to negotiate, they should have at least advised us to surrender.”
Olga lightly pulled from the side, the hem of Tigre’s cloth, who answered so.
“I want you to tell the reason why my idea is not good.”
“Rather, I want to know why you grew up in such a way.”
Tigre shrugged his shoulders with a smile as troubled. Though it was also the same, when they attacked the Fort, it seemed that this girl had the habit to attempt to solve everything by acting alone.
---I wonder if it’s because she had traveled alone for so long.
Another reason might also be related to the fact that the way some soldiers viewed her had changed.
Those, who saw Olga’s hard fighting in the night attack, had uniformly renewed their perception of her. She, who was treated as Tigre’s follower, was now seen as a warrior. Olga, also seeming to notice that, got motivated.
“I don’t intend to speak ill of Olga-dono, but......”
Matvey smiled to cheer her up. To those who did not know the circumstances, it might look like a punk who was threatening an innocent girl.
“Assuming that you went out of the Fort alone, Elliot probably won’t accept the one-on-one fight.”
“If so, then we just have to cut through from here and noncommittally wreak havoc.”
Olga tightly grasped her ViraltDragonic Tool in anger. Certainly with her ability and the power of the “Curse of Reversal” Muma, it might be possible.
“If we do that, they will probably shoot arrows in large quantities this time.”
Tigre stopped smiling, made a stern expression and turned his whole body toward Olga. This girl was too straightforward. So, he also had to answer seriously.
“Olga, I’m glad you feel that way. But, it’s not the time now. Since it will only endanger you.”
Though Olga was intently looking up at the youth as she noosed her mouth with dissatisfaction, she bowed her head with a depressed expression, when Tigre finished speaking.
Tigre tapped her shoulder to cheer her up.
It was at that time that a keenly shrill sound mixed with pirates’ battle cry reverberated from the distance. Tigre, Olga and Matvey stopped moving, and confusedly looked at each other.
After a short pause, the same sound rang again. Not only did it ring again, it also increased until it became a duet; Tigre twisted his neck. Rather than also having heard it, it was a slightly familiar sound.
While Tigre and Matvey hid themselves in the parapet, they were carefully inquiring on the pirates’ situation.
Though those who were in the vicinity of the Fort continued to scowl warily, it looked like those who were in the rear were taking a meal. Some even made few groups of about five to six people, and were nibbling something that looked like bread and dried fish around a cauldron, letting the steam go up.
“We are completely underestimated.”
“It can’t be helped. But, it seems that that sound and those guys are related.”
While the two people were talking, the shrill sound continued to reverberate at regular intervals. Even though none of the pirates were paying attention, they knew the real nature of the sound.
“……It’s coming from over there.”
Olga, who was carefully listening to the sound, turned to face toward the North. Tigre stared at that place with a suspicious look. What was in the North of the Fort was a forest.
“Don’t tell me……!”
It was Matvey, who unintentionally shouted. Although he was about to stand up vigorously, he immediately sat again with a casual behavior. It was in order to conceal his surprise to the soldiers. Agitation and panic of a Commander would instantly make the soldiers feel uneasy.
To Tigre, who put on a puzzled look, Matvey answered with a tense expression.
“We were careless. That is a sound of cutting of a tree. Those guys, they plan to build ladders and launch an attack at the same time. It will be four in the afternoon at the earliest.”
Tigre barely endured to raise his voice as he tightly grasped the black bow at hand. Olga seeming to not understand yet tilted her head.
“Is a ladder for a castle siege something that can be built so quickly?”
“If a decent army builds it with a decent method, it will take little time…… First of all, cut down one tree. Drop (cut) the branch likely to be in the way, and adjust the length. I think that around seven or eight Alsins would be adequate. And with this, half of the work is done.”
To Matvey’s explanation, Olga, who put on a face showing that she was more and more lost, frowned. The former sailor revealed a wry smile and slightly bowed his head.
“Sorry for the pompous explanation. For the next part of the work, prepare two logs, which were done this way, match join each foot (edge) together and tightly bind them with a rope. And with this, it becomes a log with about 15 Alsins of length. What remains is to shave it so that it might be easy to hook the other foot (edge).”
“So they will hang these logs on the walls, and climb on them?”
Though Olga understood at last, skeptical feelings were floating in her black pupils. Because she did not think that it was so easy to climb on a log. Matvey, guessing what she was inwardly thinking, explained.
“On the log, a rope is wreathed at equal intervals. There are also some cases where thick nails are driven. And then, one only has to climb while hanging on to the rope or the nails. So as not to take too much time and effort, though it’s fairly heavy, there are people (manpower) on the other side only to carry it.”
Tigre also could not help but groan at this explanation. It was a stuff nowhere near to be called a ladder. He had also never happened to talk about this sort of ladder with Lim, Massas or Lyudmila, who taught him about various things used in war. But, it was an effective method (to build a ladder).
“Is that...... your knowledge as a sailor?”
As he was asked in confirmation, Matvey nodded with a serious expression.
“Well, it doesn’t differ so much as to climb a mast. It’s something practical (familiar) for me. Judging from the intervals of the sound we are hearing, it seems that they frequently alternated and worked.”
“They would surely adopt a similar approach when coming to attack. The battering ram can also be made from logs. I assume that, while they attack the main gate, they will hook the ladders with dozens of logs from three directions.”
As Tigre slowly stood up, he looked down at the pirates, who surrounded the Fort and filled the meadows. One, who was not resolved, would probably be overwhelmed by that thick wall of humans. There were two tents on the other side. It was probably the base, where Elliot was.
---Though it was also the same for the forced march, he’s quite good at taking advantage of the number (making use of his numerical superiority).
After inwardly cursing Elliot, Tigre remembered those who they trapped and tilted his neck in puzzlement.
---He’s good indeed. But, then why......?
While considering this thought in the corner of his head, Tigre began to walk sedately and called out to Olga and Matvey while stirring his darkish red hair.
“Gather the soldiers. Though somewhat earlier than planned, it’s the time for retreat.”
And then after a half koku, the two hundred soldiers, who remained in the Fort, were silently advancing through the underground waterway while being soaked in water up to the legs. Since they had a torch lit with fire, they had no problem with the darkness.
This underground waterway was connected with the underground passage dug at the time of the castle siege. It came out at the foot of a small hill away from the Fort. Ludra confirmed earlier that there were no soldiers of Elliot army near the doorway.
As he confirmed that all the soldiers came out the underground waterway, Ludra threw the poison which he had prepared in the waterway. Though he also thought about setting fire within the Fort, he did not do it because there was the possibility that Elliot's army would give up the Fort recapture.
And so, Tigre and the others abandoned Fort Lux.
It was after a quarter koku that the pirates began the assault in Fort Lux, which became deserted after Tigre and the others left.
They simultaneously placed ladders up against the walls of the East, West and South. When counting them all, there were more than thirty. Furthermore, they slammed a battering ram against the main gate in the South.
As there was no resistance as they expected, the pirates easily reached the top of the walls and invaded the Fort.
But, there was no sight of the enemy there. The pirates, with their will to fight dampened, and still wary, threw the main gate open from the inside, and invited their comrades in.
The pirates, who rushed in, were running about within the Fort as dictated by their impulse, and searching for the enemy they should defeat and for what they should take; but there were not even a shadow of the enemy to be found. Though there were furniture and clothes that were abandoned, it was far from what they had imagined.
Even the food storage was empty; there were just a few oats, which seemed to have spilled when carried out on the way, and wilted vegetables and fruits which had fallen over the floor.
Furthermore, with the pirates searching within the Fort and the poison being thrown in the underground waterway, they learned that the underground passage where the enemy probably escaped was destroyed halfway.
Elliot, who was waiting for the results in his base away from the Fort, had his well-featured face dyed dark-red with anger at these reports; he struck the silver cup in his hand on the ground and stamped it with his foot.
“Those guys, they abandoned the Fort and ran away! Besides, not only did they take food, but also water......!”
He kicked down the desk, which was placed nearby. The Bottle of wine that was on the desk fell to the ground, and shattered with a sound-like scream.
---Should I have left the Fort as it is and aimed at Valverde? No, it would have been unreasonable. Then should I have divided the soldiers into two squads.... No, that was also out of question. What do I do? What should I do?
The ferocious fighting spirit, which the pirates had until now, was losing sight of its course of action, and it turned into displeasure. He had to do something about this. It was necessary to supply food and water somewhere else.
As Elliot managed to put his thoughts in order, He called Hamish and ordered him.
“Send a scout. Those guys shouldn’t have escaped so far yet. Find them; I’ll make them pay for having made a fool out of me.”
‘First, that’s it’, the second Prince of Asvarre told himself so. This was not only out only anger. He had strong wariness towards the enemy he had not yet seen.
---It would be dangerous to let him join Tallard. I must kill him before it’s too late.
After then, Elliot made the siege weapons such as the ladders and battering ram carry in the Fort. Though they were made up off-the-shelf, he thought that he could also use them during the Valverde attack.
The scout came back before long. Hearing the report that about two thousand five hundred troops were discovered to the South, Elliot frowned. ‘For an enemy, who has tormented me until now, it’s quite a small number’, he thought.
As he asked Hamish, who was nearby, the longbow user with a big body answered, while looking puzzled,
“Didn’t their number perhaps become reduced with these consecutive battles? I didn’t think that we would capture Fort Lux unscathed. In addition, we also paid back here the enemy for the serious blow (we suffered) in the night attack the other day.”
“I see, it can be something like that, huh.”
Though he was not completely convinced, Elliot nodded. More than this, he thought that he should get information from those who would survive, after he had defeated the enemy.
“Then, let’s hurry and crush them.”
Elliot arrogantly ordered the march to the South.
There was the field of Salentes just a little far at one koku on foot from Fort Lux to the South.
In a region where a gentle meadow of ups and downs spread out, the faded Green and the yellow of dry grass was dyed with a mottled pattern of the soil color in this season. Among them, saffron, lycoris and cosmos were garnishing a modest coloring so as to fill small gaps.
Slightly elevated hills were dotted to the East; when standing on the hills on a fine day and looking to the North, one could confirm the majestic appearance of Fort Lux towering at the back of the forest.
The advance (deployment) of the large army was easy - it was a topography advantageous to Elliot's army - but Tigre deliberately chose this place as the battlefield.
There were two reasons. The first was to lure Elliot's army to this position.
Elliot, who recaptured Fort Lux, would probably head to Valverde next. If that happened, he might catch up with the villagers who were escaping towards Valverde. Therefore, they positioned themselves here in order to attack the flank and the rear of the enemy if they showed an opening.
The second reason was that he did not want to be too far from Valverde. It was not because he thought that Tallard’s reinforcements would make it in time but because it was necessary to make the enemy think of the possibility that they might come.
The Tallard army, which was led by Tigre and Ludra, was on one of the hills that were gradually dotted to the East. Of the big hill and small hill, which were standing in a row, they climbed the big one and readied their formation. They numbered no more than two thousand five hundred and most of those people were injured.
It was about a half koku after Tigre and the others finished their lineup that Elliot's army appeared while fluttering the banner of the Red Dragon.
There were approximately twenty-six thousand. Among them, the pirates were nearly twenty-five thousand. They lost two thousand during the night attack, and moreover, among the injured, those who did incur a serious injury had been abandoned during the march.
Of the one thousand remaining, about four hundred belonged to the squad of the longbows led by Hamish. They were on standby at the rear of the base as Elliot’s guards.
And, for the remaining six hundred - they showed up a little while after the arrival of Elliot army. They let horses and cattle pull no less than ten sets of huge carts loaded with miscellaneous equipment, such as food, water and weapons.
This group was neither people of Asvarre, nor pirates.
In the stronghold of Elliot's army, the second Prince of Asvarre cast a gaze seemingly filled with interest at the young man, who stepped forward before him.
The young man’s skin was brown, and a white cloth was rolled on his head. He had a slender face with sharp eyes. He was wearing leather armor with a different structure from those made in Asvarre, and he had a curved sword on the waist.
He was a person of Muozinel. Elliot had never stepped on the ground of Muozinel, but he had many times seen merchants and pirates, who were from Muozinel. The person standing before him now was neither of them; he was the messenger dispatched from the Kingdom of Muozinel.
“Food and water for three days for twenty thousand soldiers. Certainly delivered.”
The man muddily said so in Asvarre language. He and the six hundred soldiers had landed to a different place from where Elliot had landed, and carried food, water, and various other tools up to here.
“Beside this, we have also prepared food for ten days for twenty thousand soldiers in Aviles.”
Aviles was a small fishing village on the northern coast. It was at about two days of March of the village of Luarca in the East that Elliot attacked.
“I fulfilled the contract. So, I’ll have you hand over the Vanadis of Zchted.”
Elliot frowned just for an instant. It was because he did not like the way of speaking of the Asvarre language by the young man. But, he immediately revealed a forced smile.
Elliot's army was about to run out of food and water. Besides, he also had to keep a good relationship with Muozinel in the future. He could not treat him roughly.
“About that, won’t you wait for a little while? As you see, this place will soon become a battlefield. Until the battle ends, I would like you to be here. No, I’m not saying that you fight together with us. The effect of only having you here will be great on the enemy.”
If he felt like it, he could as such give a polite response. Elliot revealed a radiant smile, guided the young man to the tent of the stronghold. He indicated by hand to look inside.
When the young man looked, a beautiful woman with golden hair in a slightly dirty dress, which wrapped her body, was feebly lying inside. It was Sophie. A comb of black iron was set in her thin white arms; an iron chain, which was connected to the iron ball, extended from there.
“As you see, the Vanadis is firmly secured. We have no intention to trick you.”
The Muozinel young man, who moved his face away from the tent, as if he was not paying attention to Elliot’s words, changed his sharp look to something stern.
Elliot also openly glared in irritation at the Muozinel young man. Normally, he would slay people who adopted such an attitude toward him. But, the Muozinel young man, with a stern tone, said to him, who had just become angry,
“Put shackles also on her neck and her legs. I want you to strip off her clothes so it would be hard for her to escape. After that, it’s necessary to seal off her movements, by putting her to sleep, for example.”
“Don’t you put way too much attention on a mere young girl? Is that the way of doing things in Muozinel?”
Elliot, who returned to his usual attitude, scornfully laughed and spit out as to mock him,
“I’m not such a coward. I have let you confirm. I will hand her over to you after the battle, since we have not yet touched the food and water that you bastards have brought!”
Though the young man muttered so in a malicious voice, Elliot did not understand it since it was said in Muozinel language.
On top of a hill, Tallard's army made a compact circle. About five hundred cavalry were stationed in the center, and the two thousand infantry with spear and bow made a circle around the cavalry.
Since the enemy planned to surround the hill and launch an attack at the same time, they assumed a formation that could withstand it. Tigre, Olga and Matvey were part of the cavalry squad, of which Ludra was the General Commander. Even the mercenary leader Simon left his post and came.
“Lord Tigrevurmud was right, the whole army really came.”
Ludra, who had already given instructions to the soldiers, was looking down at Elliot's army crowded in the meadow, with a displeased face. The fact that this usually calm man was unusually angry was because the pirates had hoisted the banner of the Red Dragon, which symbolized the Kingdom of Asvarre.
When Tigre proposed that they lined up on the hill, Ludra slipped in words of his doubt. He said that it was not certain that the enemy would come after them with the whole army.
Though it would be easy to defend during the battle if they lined up on the hill, they would not be able to move out. And, if for example Elliot were to divide his army in two so that one part aimed at Valverde while the other restrained Tigre and the others here, they would not be able to do anything about the enemy who would head toward Valverde.
To Ludra’s question, Tigre clearly replied.
“I’m absolutely certain that Prince Elliot won’t divide his army. He will surely come after us with the whole army.”
Ludra believed Tigre’s words and thus they lined up on the hill, but he could not hide his surprise. As the knight of Asvarre asked with a look why he was sure of it, Tigre answered as if it was a matter of course.
“Ludra, even you said that that Prince is a skeptical person, right? It’s not that he won’t organize a detached unit. It’s that he can’t do it.”
To organize a detached unit, there would be the need of a Commander to lead it. Someone trustworthy in both ability and personality. But, For Elliot, whose suspicion was unusually strong, the subordinate that he could trust was probably only Hamish, who was to guard the main force.
“Therefore, Prince Elliot’s strategy becomes very obvious. Aiming straight at the target with his overwhelming army. In case there were two or more enemies, crush them one by one starting from the weakest. And do that quickly, and forcibly.”
“It’s generally the correct tactics to use.”
Ludra sighed. It was not an irony, but his opinion. Getting the correct information, gathering more soldiers than the enemy, preparing food and armors, choosing a favorable terrain and overwhelming the enemy. That was the usual way of the war. Defeating the majority (a great number of soldiers) with the minority (a few soldiers) was after all just the wrong way.
“I also think so. If there’s a problem with Elliot, it will be on that point.”
At that time, a soldier came to report the completion of the circle. As Ludra nodded, he turned eyes full of expectation toward Tigre. The youth stirred his darkish red hair with a slightly tense expression. Prior to the battle, Ludra requested that he would like him to do a kind of pep talk or briefing.
Though Tigre first refused, saying that such a thing was the duty of the General Commander, he had reluctantly taken it over as the knight of Asvarre did not budge even one step. Moreover, it was not as if Tigre did not have anything to say.
Tigre advanced his horse in the center of the army. Raising a hand, he quietly called.
“I would like to tell you something.”
Despite the lower tone of his voice, the soldiers, who were astir, immediately shut their mouths, and shifted their attention to the youth.
Though there were still some hostility and loathing in their eyes which looked at Tigre, it was not only that; respect and trust could also be felt. The youth’s actions, whether it be putting his life on the line to save his allies during the night attack or having remained in the Fort with the two hundred soldiers, made them acknowledge him.
After confirming that the top of the hill was wrapped in silence, Tigre broke the silence.
“I took away the people’s lives.”
To these words, several soldiers stiffened their expression.
“I burnt the villages and poisoned the wells. I don’t regret it. If I hadn't done so, those pirates would have caught up with the villagers who were fleeing. Though there are probably also those among us who burnt villages, it’s me who ordered it. It’s not you.”
Saying that he had no regret was a lie. But, he had to act here. He had to reassure them by showing his unwavering strong will.
“This battle isn’t over yet.”
Tigre raised his voice, while being careful not to put too much emotion.
“If we lose here, the pirates will catch up for sure with the villagers. They would trample other villages and towns to their heart’s content. Can you let that happen? You can’t, right? Then, what should we do? We have no other choice but to fight and win. In order to keep protecting our families, our friends, and ourselves, and the other things we should protect.”
Someone among the soldiers raised a voiceless scream. Several others followed suit, and then dozens more, and several hundred people raised their fist and screamed; the top of the hill was wrapped in enthusiastic cheers. The high spirits that they roared up to the sky were apparent.
Ludra came near Tigre on horse and tapped his shoulders.
“As expected, you should have acted as the General Commander from the beginning.”
“I’m a foreigner. Besides, this army is ‘Tallard's army’, right?”
Tigre shook his head with a wry smile. Although Tallard himself was not here now, Ludra and the soldiers were under his command.
Olga, Matvey, Simon and the others also approached Tigre.
Olga silently revealed a joyful expression, Matvey bowed his head and said “Good work”, and Simon sarcastically said “well, that wasn’t bad” and laughed.
“I thought that the message was received, and morale considerably increased, but your speech was also quite decent. With this, we may be able to put up a good fight.”
As Tigre stared at the mercenary leader with a scar on the left cheek, he asked with a curious face.
“There is something that has been bothering me for some time now; why did you stay?”
Mercenaries worked on the basis of gain and loss. It meant that, if the pay was not worth the job, they would quickly break away. They did not need to keep their honor like the nobles or knights, nor did they have an attachment to a land; they also did not have sympathy for people. It was also not unusual for them to change sidesduring a war.
So in this cornered situation, there was no reason for him (Simon) to risk his life with Tigre and the others.
“Well, it’s obviously to earn income.”
Simon chuckled while patting the scar on his cheek. When the scar was hidden, he would look like a youth in his teens due to his baby face.
“Aside from the reward you have already contracted, I negotiated with Ludra so as to get extra pay. Five silver coins per two heads.”
“Is the amount worth this danger?”
Though it was something that Tigre, who had never directly hired a mercenary, did not quite understand, however judging from Simon’s expression, it was quite a large amount.
As he nodded with an evil smile while saying “of course”, Simon walked away to where his underlings were. Olga, who was until then silent, called out to Tigre who was watching Simon's back. She asked in a whispered voice,
“Must I really not use my VedaDragonic skill after all?”
“If possible, restrain yourself from using it until the last minute.”
Tigre answered with a serious expression, which subtly included acuteness.
One reason was that by showing a power beyond human knowledge, it would inspire fear and wariness from the Asvarre soldiers. Another reason was to keep it in preparation for the appearance of a Demon.
The encounter with the heteromorphic Demon Torbalan was too sudden.
In addition, not only Ludra but also the soldiers, who had surrendered (in the Fort), did not know about the Demon. They fully trusted the human being called Lester.
His peculiar tastes aside, Torbalan had melted into the human society.
Tigre did not rule out the possibility that a Demon disguised in human was lurking somewhere.
“The enemy has begun to move.”
Matvey uttered a voice fraught with tension, and Tigre shifted his focus there.
When arriving here in disorder, Elliot's army seemed just like an insect swarm, which was tortuously stretching; but they had since set the ranks and adjusted the form.
The main force, where Elliot was, was in the rear and guarded by the squad of soldiers with longbows. It was easy to guess since there were only two tents spread there. Further behind of it, the Muozinel soldiers were on standby.
Twenty five thousand pirates had been divided into five squads. Only one squad did not move from near the main force; the remaining four squads, following the tooting sound of the horn of the main force, were slowly moving toward the position of Tigre and the others.
“Don’t be frightened! Pirates are not that big of a deal when they are on the ground! Besides, it’s impossible for them to come here all at once!”
Ludra, in the center of the circle, was encouraging the soldiers. Even the most courageous person would not help but feel fear at the sight of an enemy ten times superior gradually narrowing the distance. Hatchet and ax, which were in the pirates’ hands, were bathing in the sunlight of autumn and tossing their dull brightness.
While glaring at the twenty thousand enemies, Tigre was so calm that it even surprised himself. It might be because Elliot moved the pirates as he predicted.
The concentration of his troops was because of his strong suspicion. Since the military power was concentrated, a fast and hard march, without the need to worry about those who dropped out, became possible. The large military force made the Fort capture possible in an extremely short time.
Elliot’s ability was frightening, and tremendous. However there was a shortcoming.
Before long, the pirates completely encircled Tallard army. Three squads filled the foot of the hill, and the other one squad climbed on the small hill ranged (connected) to the hill where Tallard's army was. It was too cramped (narrow) for gathering five thousand pirates, and one could see even from here that their ranks were in disorder.
When the sun soon reached the zenith, the stronghold of Elliot's army blew the horn. its sound crossed the meadow and reached the pirates’ ears. They revealed a ferocious smile, and raised a battle cry while brandishing their weapons. Tallard's army on the top of the hill also shouted in an indomitable manner.
“Oh Founder Artorias! Oh Queen Zephyria! Oh Knight of the Round Tables! Be witnesses of our battle!”
As if drowning out the soldiers’ voice, the pirates raised a war cry and began to move. The flowers, which decorated the slopes, were quickly trampled, and Tallard's army immediately followed afterwards as if they were chasing after them.
Following Ludra’s orders, a blue flag rose at the center of Tallard's army. Immediately after, the Pirates, who were closing in on the enemy with great vigor, loudly (showily) fell down. They were caught in a rope covered with mud that was stretched on the slopes. Tigre was taught this by Lim before.
Although there were some pirates who were running up, trampling those who fell down miserably, those who stumbled and fell in the same way were not few. At this point, Tallard's army mercilessly showered a rain of stone-throwing and arrows.
The stones and arrows shot from the height tore the atmosphere and poured down over the pirates. Short screams rose from around the hill. They filled the slope, climbing while striving to be first, with no attempt to avoid the stones and arrows. Soon, dozens of people who broke their posture fell down the slope.
However, the pirates’ number was indeed twenty thousand. They stepped over their comrades crouching down; several tens went through the storm of arrows and stones, and hundreds of pirates, while wielding their weapons, ran up the slope. Seeing that, the soldiers of Tallard's army set up the spears.
In the form of a compact circle, one should say that it was already a wall of spears. Within the countless tips of spears dully shining, those able to murder were not so.
Their comradesapproached from behind; if they stopped halfway, stones and arrows would come flying. If they became depressed and gave up, they would be stabbed by spear, and fell down the slope.
“I wonder if we can hold out as it is.”
Matvey, while blurring sweat on his forehead, was watching the soldiers fighting back desperately. Tigre, without speaking, responded to him with a small nod.
Though of course he was nocking the arrows to the black bow and shooting them, bringing down the pirates one after another. As he watched the pirates approaching with vigor and exhaustively covering the slope, he wondered how long it would be effective.
As Ludra said, ‘never deal with all the enemies at once’. Tigre also had such an intention when he chose this place as the battlefield. However, it also meant to hold their ground before the enemy lineup. No matter how much they brought them down, new troops were endlessly coming from behind toward them.
Finally, the pirates broke through the Tallard army's frontline. No only in one or two places, it happened almost at the same time in dozens of places on the circle. This was due to the decreasing of arrows and stones, the momentum having weakened, and the fatigue of the soldiers with spears.
The pirates finally let explode the fighting spirit and anger which they had been hoarding. They barked and raged like wild beasts, and haphazardly swung hand ax and hatchet. Screams were accompanied with a dull sound of torn flesh, blood splash dyed the ground red, and the smell of blood mixed with the air (made the air muddy).
“It was supposed to be a pile of silver coins as far as the eyes can see.”
The Mercenary leader Simon sighed while violently wiping the sweat on his face. He was not holding a sword, but a mace smeared with blood. It was a weapon with an iron shaft and an iron ball with innumerable prickles and which was attached at the tip. The flesh would be torn up if hit with this, and the bones would break.
If its sharpness did not become duller by blood and grease, Simon would have efficiently used the mace in such a battle without even nicking the blade. His subordinates also carried mace and ax.
Looking back at his mercenaries underlings, Simon raised his voice.
“You guys, you’re not earning at all! Even the silver coins would come in flocks, go all out a little!”
As his cry probably attracted attention, a hand ax came flying toward Simon while spinning at high speed. The baby-faced mercenary leader flicked it right away with his mace. Sparks scattered, and the hand ax, which let a jarring metallic sound echo (reverberated), pierced the ground.
Simon picked up the hand ax with a voiceless curse, and vigorously threw it in the direction where it came flying. The hand ax smashed the head of one of the pirates, and he rolled down the slope without uttering a sound. The mercenaries poured cheers on their Captain.
However, no matter how hard the soldiers were fighting, the pirates’ offensive did not weaken. Those, who were down the slope, were climbing using their comrades’ corpses as shields. Even those, who were throwing daggers and hand axes scattered about to the other side and defeated the soldiers that showed up.
The motionless pirates’ corpses covered with blood and dirt and the voiceless corpses of soldiers were overlapping one another to the point that one wondered whether the hillside grew one size in thickness.
If the pirates’ offensive had continued another quarter koku, Tigre and the others might have been trampled without being able to cut the enemy support. However, it did not happen.
At last, the pirates began to be out of breath. Exchanging looks with their comrades on their left and right sides, they began to retreat like a wave that drew back, leaving the corpses behind.
They had started to move from dawn, passed through the forest, cut down dozens of logs for the Fort siege, and even walked up to here (Salentes). Although they rested well the day before, stamina is not something inexhaustible. Besides, there was also the sense of security of having surrounding the enemy.
It was for this very moment that Tigre and Ludra were eagerly waiting.
Ludra unsheathed the sword at his waist, and raised it highly. With that as a signal, a part of the circle formation collapsed. The sword of Ludra pointed at the small hill, which was standing in a row with the hill where they were.
The five hundred cavalrymen, who were on standby until then at the center, raised a battle cry. They jumped out of the circle from the part which collapsed, and fiercely ran down the slope with a force that shook the earth.
The pirates who were on that side, tried to put up a fight at once, but it was in vain.
Although they were attacked on the point of recession, they churned their ranks between the two hills, and they were not able to move as they wanted. To begin with, deploying five thousand pirates in a small hill was already something reckless.
The cavalry of Tallard's army annihilated the pirates in no time, who were moving about in confusion. They sent them flying, and broke through in one go. The infantry, ignoring the pirates, hurriedly followed the cavalry. The pirates, who were confused due to the cavalry’s assault, did not have time to oppose them (infantry).
Tallard's army completely escaped from the pirates’ encirclement. Among the three other pirates’ squads, up to two, be it crossing over the hill or taking a roundabout path, took a long time to catch up. The remaining one squad started to move out of necessity.
The pirates were also getting tired. But, they still had the support of numbers. Above all, even if they had something to lose, they had nothing to protect. They also knew that they would die if they got caught.
Driven by their fighting spirit and desires, they had no choice but to move forward while rampaging.
The soldiers of Tallard's army were also getting tired. From the capture of Fort Lux to the evacuation of the villagers, the night attack, and the escape from the Fort, everyone had come so far with no room for taking enough rest. Their stamina was approaching the limit.
From the cavalry running at the vanguard of Tallard's army, three people moved out from the squad. They drove backward on the infantry’s side and headed toward the pirates. They were Tigre, Olga and Matvey. Matvey was holding a bow.
“Tigre, Matvey, stay behind.”
When finishing speaking, Olga raised her horse’s speed. The handle of the ax, which she tightly grasped, had already lengthened so that she could swing it on horseback.
Fiercely catching up with the pirates, the Vanadis with light pink-colored hair, without showing any signs of faltering, let her horse dance. When one thought that a gray light ran into the empty space, the head of the pirate, who was the closest, was cut down to the middle.
Head and arms of pirates fluttered about in midair leaving trail of blood, and shattered axes and hatchetes were stuck in the ground.
The big topaz was embedded in the joint county of the blade and the handle; the beautiful ax, by which the pale colored ornament that was given to the tip and the pommel, could only be seen as a work of art. However, Olga, effortlessly wielding it, made a puddle of blood on the ground and piled up the enemy corpses.
“We will rather hinder her if we stand side-by-side with her.”
Dozens of steps away from Olga, Matvey, who was holding up a horse, muttered. He and Tigre were only targeting those who were trying to avoid Olga and head toward this place. By the way, Matvey’s bow skill was a degree that allowed him to hit one in three targets (Matvey, with his bow skill, could only hit one target in (one) three).
---I think it’s already time to retreat.
While checking the remaining number of arrows, Tigre thought. It was not as if Olga had an endless stamina. Before running out of power (steam), they had to escape together.
Given the position of the sun, they had already gained enough time. The soldiers were also at their limit. Afterward, they just need to escape to Valverde so as not to be crushed by the enemy.
However, something that Tigre did not expect happened.
“Is it alright to leave the rear of our army to such a small girl?”
That cry could be heard from far behind Tigre. It was one of the allies.
“I will go help that brave girl! Those, who are also willing to do so, follow me!”
Tigre was dumbfounded. About 200 cavalry were coming toward this place (infantry) in the same way as earlier. Such a thing was not planned.
Matvey also looked up at the sky with a face like a teacher who witnessed the reckless rampage of a problem child.
“It was also the same at the night attack. Really, what a troublesome bunch.”
However, he could not abandon them. Besides, though the pirates were on foot, there were cavalry on their (Tigre’s) side. If it did not go well, they might have not been able to withdraw after dealing a blow.
“Matvey, please keep protesting against Ludra. I will go join Olga.”
Though Tigre said so and rode the horse, the former sailor rode his horse immediately next to Tigre. He threw away the bow and drew the sword on his waist. It was a curved sword similar to a hatchet.
“I can’t just be the only one being left out here.”
They soon caught up with the cavalrymen, who were in the rear. Tigre, standing at their vanguard dove into the midst of the spray of blood. Matvey and the knights ran out on Tigre’s both sides, and respectively mowed down the pirates with sword and spear. Blood and groans were mixed with the wind that blew.
Tigre shot an arrow that he had already nocked to his black bow at a pirate far away. Almost at the same time when that pirate fell on the ground after having his forehead pierced, Olga brought her horse near to Tigre’s.
“They seem to be moved by your fight, Olga.”
It could not be helped if what it said just sounded like an irony. However, this assault was not also meaningless at all; the pirates were confused and stopped their advance. At this point, Olga kicked the saddle of her horse, jumped, and vigorously raised the ax, which she tightly grasped with both hands.
“DvarogThe Second Horn of Piercing”
Together with the girl’s cry, the ax in her hand changed its shape. Though the long handle remained unchanged, the gray blade carved with fine patterns grew two times bigger.
Olga struck it in the ground with all her might. The earth burst open with a flash of light, and a tremendous amount of earth and sand thrust up from the underground gushed to right above. A pillar of sallow appeared. Several pirates was swallowed into that earth and sand, and blown away.
Before the mysterious phenomenon which suddenly occurred, the pirates stopped moving. Although the gush of sediment subsided almost instantly, it was visible to them, like the girl in front of them, who caused it.
Though it is actually a fact, from their perspective, there was no way that such a thing could happen. As their understanding could not keep up with the scene they had witnessed, they were standing upright as if having lost their will to fight.
However, it was also the same for Tallard's army. The horses panicked at the unexpected shock and shaking of the ground and several people fell from their horse. Even those who barely controlled their horse were in blank amazement.
As only Tigre and Matvey were calm, the two people issued an order to the cavalrymen, and some of them regained their composure. The youth scolded Olga on horseback, who rushed back among them with a wry face.
“I told you not to use it, right?”
“I didn’t get so tired from using it now.”
With a troubled face, Tigre looked down at Olga, who immediately retorted with her deadpan. It was probable that this girl used her VedaDragonic skill in order to allow the cavalry to safely withdraw as much as possible. For an unexpected situation, he intended to solve it with a drastic move. He could not strongly blame her.
Anyway, since the enemy movement stopped, they should quickly leave this place.
By Tigre’s command, two hundred cavalry quickly settled, and moved away from the distance.
However, they could not proceed to escape unscathed. The pirates’ squad, which was in between the two hills finally recovered from the confusion and were coming to attack with ferocious cry. Unable to avoid them, the 200 cavalry led by Tigre clashed with the pirates.
Both armies were jumbled together (intermingled) like two paints with different colors thrown at each other, and it became a melee.
This was a very dangerous situation for Tigre and the others.
Originally, on top of being overwhelmingly inferior in number, they were attacked when they were about to retreat. They could not expect an organized counterattack. While one cavalryman swung a spear and defeated one pirate, several cavalrymen were crushed by more pirates.
Olga gritted her teeth. No matter how many she cut down, the rampaging pirates were coming to attack one after another. Though she had also considered sweeping them away with her VedaDragonic skill, they had already deeply cut in here; however much she restrained herself, she would involve her allies.
Several streaks of sweat streamed down her face in which childishness remained, and her light pink-colored hair stuck on her forehead and cheeks.
Tigre also for the same reason had not yet dabbled in the black bow’s power. Although it was a situation in which there was no longer room to hesitate, when ally and enemy were jumbled like this, he could not indeed decide to exercise his power.
---However, I can’t let Olga use it any more.
Grasping the black bow again (re-gripping?), it was when Tigre was about to finally resolve himself.
---What is that......?
Feeling something like a change of the atmosphere, Tigre shifted his gaze to the South. There was a pirate trying to attack Tigre, but he was blocked by Matvey and cut down by Olga. The Vanadis with light pink-colored hair looked up at Tigre with a dubious face.
Immediately after, battle cries which broke out from far away intensely shook the atmosphere. Both ally and enemy surprised stopped their movement. They all looked at the direction where the voice came – the South.
Ahead of their line of sight, there were thousands of cavalry shadows. In their banner fluttering in the wind, the Red Dragon of the kingdom of Asvarre was drawn.
The cavalrymen became a lump of black shadows coming out from the meadow, and were coming with a vigor (power) that shook the earth. Their spear and armor bathing in the sunlight gave off a sharp radiance.
Tigre stared at the man, who was at the vanguard of cavalrymen, with a dumbfounded look. He clearly recognized him because he (Tallard) did not put on a helmet. With short golden (blond) hair, and a firm and dignified face. No doubt.
---Did he make it in time?
Now at that time, the pirates finally realized that this cavalry group, which suddenly appeared, were their enemies. But alas, it was too late. The cavalrymen led by Tallard brandishing their spear and attacked them.
They kicked them about with horses’ hooves; the pirates, being slaughtered with spear, greatly lapsed into chaos. These cavalrymen, unlike those who they fought up to now, were overflowing with stamina. The pirates’ desperate resistance was idly crushed; and though they turned their back and ran away, they were easily caught.
In the midst of the fight, Tallard quickly found Tigre and rushed over to him.
“I wondered what had happened, but you seem to be fine.”
As he threw up such words with a refreshing smile, Tigre could only smile.
Even though his face was covered in sweat, dust and blood splash, his hands and arms had become numb due to firing too many arrows, and his hips were painful from riding the horse. Even his clothes were worn out in several places, and tattered (shabby) with sweat and dust.
“How much have you tired?”
“If I have to say it shortly, to the point that my eyes are dead. But, your eyes are still filled with motivation. Right?”
“This is advice, but you should make the conditions loose more.”(?)
Tigre said with a very serious face. If that answer now was serious, this man’s subordinate would surely die from overwork (strain).
At that time, Ludra came back leading the soldiers. It was probably because he was matching the speed of the infantry that he was late. As Tallard answered the simple salute of the red hair knight by bowing his head in assent, he said in a natural tone (as if it was a matter of course).
“Ludra. Send the retreat to the southeast temporarily. Leave the injured to Simon, gather those who can still move and come to my place. I will borrow this guy.”
To that one-sided declaration, Ludra put on a troubled face and Tigre sighed. This was the battlefield in the midst (maelstrom) of chaos and frenzy, and though both Tigre and Ludra also understood that it wasn’t the time for that, they still wondered if the minimum explanation was not required.
“Understood. However, I will bring Olga and Matvey with me.”
“Yeah. If they can move enough to match our pace at first, they should first take a rest.”
Tallard plainly answered. Tigre, though he frowned, decided to follow him. He only said “Come together with me” to Olga and Matvey, who came running. Ludra gathered up the soldiers and retreated.
Tallard, together with the trio, moved to the rear of the cavalry squad. Tigre, while looking with side glances at the cavalrymen, briefly asked,
“How many are they?”
After answering that there were seven thousand, Tallard finally started explaining.
“It was around dawn today that I knew that you were to fight in Salentes. At that time, I was further in the South from here – around the Southwest of Valverde. It was a hair’s breadth (We fortunately made it in time).”
It seemed that it was last night that the messenger which Ludra sent arrived at Valverde. The messenger then rode on horse to the southwest, and was finally able to meet Tallard.
Tigre explained the current situation.
“The enemy is nearly twenty thousand. Then, there are 5000 to 6000 in the enemy stronghold to the other side of the hill.”
As he was about to ask whether it would be all right, Tigre swallowed his words. This was because Tallard’s blue eyes retained a fearless shine, and a smile blotting his fighting spirit appeared on his lips.
“Look. Apart from being on the sea, the pirates on ground are not a big deal for me.”
Tallard's army of seven thousand, which severely trampled down the pirates, suddenly stopped their advance, reformed their ranks and began to retreat. Though the pirates were curious (were in wonder), they immediately realized the reason. Their comrades, who were on the other side of the hill, finally went around to this place.
Since Tallard's army did not come to interfere, the pirates safely joined together. Though there were already nearly four thousand deaths, more than sixteen thousand still remained.
With the thought that they withdrew after repeatedly being beaten, the pirates glared at Tallard's army.
Judging from their viewpoint, two enemies existed. There were the nearly two thousand under Ludra’s command that were fighting until then, and the seven thousand led by Tallard that newly showed up. Normally, they (pirates) should first crush the two thousand enemies, but if they did so, they would obviously be attacked by the seven thousand enemies (which showed up).
Even among the pirates, some people with leadership cried out, while pointing with their weapons and hands at the direction of the cavalrymen led by Tallard. The two thousand enemies, who were exhausted, should even be unable to act as backing (covering). If so, then they should have left it to the seven thousand reinforcements earlier.
Turning into a torrent of violence and murderous intent, the sixteen thousand pirates charged. Tallard's army, which had been confronting them, turned the horses’ neck one after another as if being scared (as frightened) and ran away.
While riding the horse next to Tallard, Tigre let his line of sight run to the right, left and back with feelings of admiration. The cavalry’s ranks, even though they were running away, were hardly confused, and were always keeping a certain small distance from the pirates. This was something which proved the high level of Tallard’s leadership.
Suddenly, Tigre frowned and squinted ahead. Diagonally front-left to be precise.
At three hundred Alsins, Several sets (stands) of big carts were lining up. Around them, some big bags that could seemingly only be carried by many people at once, were put in great number.
Tigre first thought that it was the munitionssquad, who transported food and various expendable supplies, but he immediately understood that it was not that. From a distant view, it was assembled of wood; since the wheels were also attached, it looked like a cart; but it was not that.
“You have sharp eyes.”
He probably saw through Tigre's change of expression. Tallard revealed a smile full of fighting spirit, and Set forth his sword while slowing down the horse's pace. The cavalrymen who followed after him, likewise lowered their speed.
“It’s a catapult. I have purchased it from the Sachstein people, and Lafore – my subordinate has improved it.”
---He even has such a thing……
Tigre kept on being surprised since Tallard appeared.
“It’s also the same for the seven thousand cavalry, but you are well prepared.”
“It’s not that big a deal. Well, I just wooed a woman.”
Though his words seemed to be really modest, the young man’s expression was obviously inflated with pride.
As Tallard's army approached near the catapult, they stopped the horses. As if waiting for it, the soldiers standing near the catapult hurriedly started the work.
Piercing through the air, the jute bags packed with stones and sand were shot one after another. They drew a parabola in the sky over the heads of Tigre and the others, and fell over the heads of the pirates who had been chasing them.
Jute bags of tremendous weight crushed the pirates, and blew away in the aftermath of the impact. The earth rumbled violently (like an electric shock) shook even the skin of the cavalrymen, who were away from the point of impact.
Sand bounced (splashed), and dust flew. Blood, flesh and bone fragments mixed with the mud and melted into the ground. Arms and legs were torn to shreds and bodies were crushed beyond recognition. Rather than scream, groans of despair wrapped them.
Those who lost their lives to the catapult were less than two hundred. However, this attack dealt a blow to their mind, made them cower with fright, and they became restless. Using that opportunity, the seven thousand of Tallard's army reformed their ranks, turned around, and pointed again the spearheads towards the pirates. They let the sound of horses’ hooves reverberated and kicked the ground.
The pirates who were at the vanguard had already lost the will to fight. They suddenly cried, dispersed, and fled in every direction.
Behind them, those who escaped the attack by the catapult were still willing to fight, but those who were not scared were in minority, and the strength to withstand the assault of cavalry hardly remained. Their ranks also stretched long and slender, and lapsed into chaos.
What unfolded was a one-sided annihilation. With ease similar to cutting a ripe fruit, Tallard's army tore down the pirates. Ferociously riding the horses, they broke through the pirate's rear.
Tallard might have ordered beforehand that the cavalrymen be deployed left and right in flowing motion. They broke through, and were riding fast to the side of the pirates who were divided and confused, and arrived at the flank.
Tallard’s tactics were, if one had to say it, standard. That is, to further divide into small parts the enemy that was already divided by a central breakthrough. However, that ability was brilliant enough to let anyone with the experience of commanding soldiers, stare wide-eyed (dumbfounded).
The pirates, who were either pierced with a spear, or mowed down, were seeing their number rapidly decrease. Of, the sixteen thousand pirates, more than half of the enemy was trifled with.
The catapult moved forward. It advanced only 10 Alsins; though it was a weapon which required a little less than 150 seconds to just shoot a jute bag stuffed with stones from there, it had that much destructive power.
In order for the cavalry of Tallard's army to be near the center from the enemy’s rear, the catapult aimed at that side from the pirates’ vanguard. It was good even it did not hit. With just the fact that huge stones were falling, the enemy would be scared and fighting would become impossible.
"Crush that catapult!"
Someone among the pirates cried; several hundreds of pirates who heard it stepped over the corpses and started running.
The distance to the catapult was less than two hundred Alsins. Its movement was also dull. By charging all at once, they might easily destroy it.
However, their expectation did not come true. The soldiers who were moving the catapult picked up crossbows from the ground and readied them when they noticed the enemy approach. They had prepared and left them on the ground for when the enemy would be coming. Bolts had been already loaded into the crossbows.
A mechanical shooting sound overlapped with several hundred (sounds) and smashed the atmosphere. The pirates, who took head-on the storm of bolts, turned a somersault and fell down to the ground. Though the following people unintentionally froze, it only gave time for Tallard's army to load a new arrow.
The second shot struck a new victim to the ground. Hereon, the pirates’ will of fight finally faded. The number of people, who fled with their back turned to the enemy, increased from dozens to hundreds people in a blink of an eye. The pirates collapsed like a canvas which fell to ruins, was stirred up by the wind, and raggedly broke off.
"Don’t chase the pirates. The fight isn’t over yet!"
Tallard forbade pursuit, and ordered to leave the fleeing pirates and reform the ranks. Tallard, Tigre, Olga and Matvey quickened their horses’ pace, came out through the cavalrymen’s side, and stood at their top (vanguard) again. Looking up the two hills towering to the left, Tallard asked.
"You said that Elliot was on the other side of these hills, right?"
"It’s (the talk of) when we were above the hill. At least a quarter koku has passed since then."
Tigre answered carefully. Tallard said that there was no problem and laughed.
The seven thousand cavalry advanced along the foot of the hill, and took a roundabout path. The main force of Elliot's army was seen in the distance. Since Tigre confirmed it the last time, the position had not changed that much.
---I don’t think that they will challenge us to a decisive battle head-on as is......
There were about five thousand pirates in the front. Unless they broke through them, they would not approach the stronghold, where Elliot was. In addition, even if they could break through, the squad of longbows led by Hamish would be lying in wait.
And, though the soldiers’ morale of Tallard's army was high for sure as one might expect, they were tired from fighting the pirates more than twice. There were also more than dozens of injured people.
At that time, Tallard looked here (this direction) as if he totally saw through Tigre’s concern. He glittered his blue pupils, and revealed a smile like a juggler, who plotted how to surprise (the bystanders).
“We won’t attack. But, we will approach them to the limit.”
When the distance from the pirates shrank to about three hundred Alsins, Tallard quickly raised his hand. Tallard's army reduced the speed and stopped the march.
Tigre looked at Tallard with a face, which could not hide his surprise. He could only think of the act of stopping the horses before the enemy’s eyes as suicidal. Even the pirates, who were the enemy, turned a suspicious look at this.
While ordering a standby to the army, Tallard sedately advanced his horse forward. As if it was the signal, from among the cavalrymen, about a dozen people who possessed a big body showed up and followed him.
---I don’t understand. What are you trying to do, Tallard?
Tigre followed suit without even caring about the sweat on his forehead and took out an arrow from his quiver. Though he did not nock it to the black bow, he stood ready to immediately shoot it.
In a distance of about hundred Alsins until the contact with the pirates, Tallard stopped the horse. The cavalrymen with big bodies that would not lose to Matvey’s, lined up in a row behind him.
As Tallard thoroughly inhaled a breath, he shouted as loud as possible.
“His Royal Highness second Prince Elliott! I said to Elliot Bloom Godwin Nathaniel Galahad Asvarre!”
At this time, Tigre learnt for the first time the official name of Elliot.
If the royalty of Asvarre was a male, he had three names; In case of a female, she had two names. It was in the order of first name, family name, second name, third name, Knight of the Round Table’s name, and the country name. The Knight of the Round Table’s name was used to include the wish so that its divine protection could be given.
The cavalrymen with big bodies, who were lying in wait for the orders of the blond-haired young man, cried in unison in loud voice. If it was Tallard’s cry alone, it could at best be heard by the pirates, but when they barked in unison in the void, it rode upon the winds and reached Elliot, who was in the stronghold.
“My name is Tallard Graham! I came here in response to the command of Her Imperial Highness the first Princess Guinevere Colchicum Ophelia Bedivere Asvarre-sama!”
The person to whom Tallard wanted to convey those words was not the pirates. It was Elliot who was on the other side.
“You, who were almost killed by your elder brother probably also have something to say. But, did you forget the late king His Majesty Zacharias’s will to endeavor for peace and tranquility? Leading the pirates and wreaking havoc on the sea, harming the people; you do not have the qualification to raise the flag of the Red Dragon as long as you exert injustice! Royalty punishes the iniquities of the Royal family. In my name, I will defeat you, and return the government of Asvarre to the righteous way!”
When Tallard cut his word, silence fell on the battlefield. Most people were overwhelmed by the ambition that the short blond-haired young man released.
In the stronghold of Elliot army, the General Commander Elliot was standing stock still with a dumbfounded expression.
“Gui, Guinevere? Guinevere, you say……?”
Amazed by the appearance of an unexpected name in addition to Tallard’s appearance in the battlefield, which was what he was fearing the most, Elliot repeatedly muttered his younger sister’s name.
Despite being siblings who shared the same father and mother, their relationship was not particularly good. The fact that Elliot ignored her was because there was an enemy Jermaine, whom he had to defeat first.
The shock was all the more great. Although Elliot was violently staggering and about to fall down, he was supported by Hamish, who was nearby, and finally came to his senses, when he afterward heard his father’s name. His well-featured face was dyed dark-red with anger, and with trembling shoulders, he tightly clenched his fist.
“T-That Bitch! Although you should have stayed put and behaved yourself, you went and opened your legs to the likes of a commoner born in a fishing village, huh! The shame of the royal family, who brands me as a rebel!”
With a foul mouth (abusive language) unexpected of a royalty, Elliot violently cursed his younger sister. The words “You have no qualification to raise the flag of the kingdom of Asvarre” exactly mean that. For the person, the second Prince of Asvarre, there was probably no more scathing repudiation than this.
While Elliot was enraged, Tallard finished his sentence. But, the blond-haired young man’s speech was not over yet. Though not visible to Elliot, Tallard’s blue eyes were directed straight towards the pirates who were in front of him.
As one should expect, since the cavalrymen also repeatedly called this shout, it properly reached Elliot’s ears. Pirates, as if they had forgotten the battle, were waiting for the continuance of his (Tallard) words.
“Burn, steal, kill. These crimes, which you have insatiably repeated until today, are too heavy. Enough to not even accept your surrender.”
Earlier (sooner) than the pirates burst into rage, Tallard barked (roared).
“However! If you bring Elliot’s head, I will make an exception. Choose. Die buried in this ground like your comrades! Being Captured in a village or a town and beheaded! Or being forgiven for your crimes and atone for them!”
Elliot also shouted in an indomitable manner. His face was showing an ugly enough distortion for a too intense anger.
“Bring me Tallard’s head here! For those, who bring it, I will give them what they want! Be it property, peerage, or beautiful women, you can get whatever you want with your competency!”
The pirates, who were stirred up by their desire, became enlivened, raised a war cry, raised their weapons (overhead) and went towards Tallard's army. As Elliot felt relieved for the time being, he whispered to Hamish beside him.
“If they show signs like coming here, I don’t mind if you kill them.”
Hamish stared at his lord with a look of surprise. On Elliot’s lips was an evil (cruel) smile, and both his eyes filled with suspicion were giving off a dull light.
“They are just pirates after all. There might be some fools among them , who were misled by Tallard’s falsehood. Even guys like that, would desperately fight once they know that they could be shot to death.”
“Isn’t it the opposite?”, although Hamish thought so, he could not mouth it. If he were to refute the present Elliot, his suspicion would be directed toward him. Even if it was any kind of advice.
Hamish looked up at the sky. Under the blue sky, the banner of the Red Dragon was fluttering in the wind.
He couldn’t help but hope that the pirates overwhelmed Tallard army.
While looking at the back of Tallard, who thrust a severe (harsh) choice before the pirates, Tigre could not help shivering, yet felt admiration at the same time. He understood the aim of the blond young man.
Seemingly, Tallard intended to come back sedately, but as he noticed that pirates started to move behind his back, he rode the horse with the cavalrymen. There was even a relaxed smile in his face without the least sign of panic.
Tallard rushed into his own army while issuing orders to the soldiers, who were on standby. Tigre asked the blond General Commander, who set up his horse next to his.
“You plan to drive the pirates into numerical inferiority, and engage with the squad of longbows, right?”
Instead of being a question, it was a confirmation. Tallard delightfully brightened his expression.
“As expected. You understood with only that.”
What was the threat which Elliot's army main force held? It was not the five thousand pirates.
It was the squad of longbows who could shoot an arrow from a distance of three hundred Alsin as if it was a matter of course. To blow this up, one must be prepared for considerable damage; but Tallard intended to force that role on pirates.
---What a terrifying man……
Tigre sighed. He could only say that Tallard’s sentence was brilliant.
By issuing the name of Guinevere, he displayed his great cause, raised the soldiers’ morale, and provoked Elliot at the same time. Magnificently appealing to the pirates for betrayal was not only to use them as a shield against the squad of longbows. There was probably also the purpose of stirring up Elliot’s suspicion by provoking his anger.
Suddenly, Tigre felt that his body became light. The feeling of freedom, like when heavy baggage which was weighing his back was taken down on the ground, wrapped the youth.
He immediately understood why. This was because Tallard Graham became the protagonist of this battlefield.
The General Commander of Tallard's army was no longer Ludra or Tigre, but this young man.
“Lend me some cavalry. A hundred will do.”
Tigre requested to Tallard with a non-enthusiastic tone. As the young man Commander General turned towards him, he stared at Tigre while blinking several times as to display his surprise.
“I don’t mind lending them to you, but for what purpose do you intend to use them?”
“Find a good timing and attack the enemy on the flank.”
Tallard would probably win this battle. Tigre had that firm conviction.
He did what he could do. And what was left now was to achieve his original purpose.
“However, is it alright with one hundred? I think five to ten times more should be better.”
Tigre refused Tallard’s proposal, and left the battlefield with Olga and Matvey, accompanied by one hundred horsemen.
As he saw off the youth and the cavalrymen running towards the meadows, Tallard looked back toward the pirates behind. One group protruded in a form as if inviting a retreat here, and the ranks were stretching longer.
Tallard took two thousand soldiers from his army, and made a detour as if drawing an arc. They let the sound of horses’ hooves resound all over in the meadows, and while winding up a cloud of dust, they sharply shoved spear and sword in the pirates’ flank.
The cavalrymen’s swords crushed the pirates’ heads; their spears pierced through the chest and spread fresh blood on the ground. The Pirates’ hand axes and stickes were hardly reaching the enemy on horseback; they were one-sidedly leveled.
Seeing that the pirates’ advance had stopped, Tallard launched a counterattack. Yellow flags which were among the banners of the Red Dragon were waved several times, and the cavalrymen who were in retreat turned their horses around one after another.
To the Pirates, who greatly faltered by being incessantly attacked from the front and the flank, Tallard appealed again. Of course, the big cavalrymen also shouted in unison with both body and voice.
“I’m not asking you to beg for your life! The only thing that can save you is to bring Elliot’s head!”
In a field of mutual killing where angry roar and rough voice intertwined and blade noises repeatedly sounded, there were few people who heard Tallard and the others’ voice. Even Tallard himself did not think in the slightest that he could be heard by all the pirates.
“Considering that at least one hundred people heard my voice, I hope that five or six among them would move. And then dozens of other people seeing it would just follow later, and furthermore hundreds would follow up. And so on.”
From the rear of his army, Tallard turned a calm look to the battlefield. As expected, the pirates’ movement began to gradually lapse into chaos.
It was only the day when they landed that they were able to satisfy their desire. Since then, they had gotten tired from the forced march and suffered damage and injury during the night attack; the villages which they should have plundered had been burnt in advance, and they had also gotten nothing from the Fort recapture. The twenty thousand comrades, who should have cornered the enemy, were defeated and ran away.
They could no longer believe so much in their victory and the reward which would have come with it.
Stepping back, the pirates, who raised cries without words, turned their back to the enemy. It was not clear whether they followed Tallard’s appeal and betrayed Elliot or it was a ‘sauve qui peut’ with their morale dampened. However, it was obvious that they no longer had the will to fight against Tallard's army.
Watching the pirates collapsing, trying to escape, and approaching his place, Elliot gave orders to Hamish. The longbow user with a big body silently abided and shot an arrow without hesitation at his subordinates’ soldiers.
Despite being also of Elliot's army, the longbow soldiers had the awareness that they were pirates, and not comrades. Besides, it was an order of their chief Hamish. There was no one who opposed it.
Tearing up the sky, innumerable arrow poured into the pirates. Elliot loudly shouted at them who screamed.
“Fight! Isn’t the enemy in front of you? Know that an arrow will fly to those who don’t fight the enemy!”
There were three different reactions from the pirates, who heard his voice. Some stood petrified in utter amazement, and some other became desperate and confronted Tallard's army.
And, some went towards the longbow soldiers while shouting something; they were once again showered with arrows, fell down like a dance, and ceased to breathe (died). Hamish looked back toward Elliot with a stern look.
“Please run away, Your Highness.”
“……Run away, you say?”
Without regard to Elliot, who was dumbfounded, Hamish ordered his men to prepare a horse.
“We no longer have chance of victory here. Please, escape to the Main Island.”
The fact that Hamish, following the Prince’s order, showered a rain of arrows on the pirates, who should be their allies, was not because he was expecting a hard fight out of them. It was in order to gain time to allow Elliot to escape. The tumult of the battlefield had already arrived here. He had to hurry.
If he could cross the sea and reach the Main Island, there would be nobles who supported Elliot there. He could also rely on the soldiers whom they hired. With those who held opposition to the meek Princess Guinevere and the native commoner Tallard, a number which should not be inferior, another war would be possible enough.
But, Elliot did not nod immediately. His eyes were full of impatience and dismay, and with Tallard's army soon approaching, he busily went back and forth in the tent in the rear.
The Vanadis Sophie was in the tent.
“I will take the Vanadis to His Highness later. Please hurry up now.”
A subordinate of Hamish had pulled a horse. The saddle had already been put. Finally determined, Elliot hurriedly rode the horse.
“I leave the Vanadis to you, Hamish.”
Though in the Prince’s words, there was neither a word of gratitude nor words of concern for his subordinates’ well-being, Hamish silently nodded. As he saw off Elliot running in the meadows to the northwest, he heaved a small sigh. Leaving the battlefield to his subordinates, Hamish headed towards the tent where Sophie was.
He knitted his brows. More than ten people’s figures had surrounded her tent. From the brown skin and the clothes, he immediately understood that there were Muozinel people.
“Using the confusion caused by the battlefield and come to take the Vanadis, huh. You Foxes!”
The Foxes, which devoured fields and livestock, were considered particularly harmful animals in Asvarre. From the Muozinel viewpoint, since they had brought food and supplies as promised, taking Sophie was a matter of course; but Hamish did not take such circumstances into consideration.
While tightly grasping the bow in the left hand and the arrow in the right, Hamish started running. Ahead of his line of sight, two Muozinel soldiers entered the tent.
The next moment, with a dull sound like driving a stake into the ground, those Muozinel soldiers were blown off outside the tent. They fluttered about in midair and fell on the ground. The people who were surrounding the tent raised voices of surprise. Hamish stared wide-eyed.
The Muozinel soldiers unsheathed the swords at their waist and cautiously took one to two steps away from the tent. From within the tent, a woman appeared limping.
She had disheveled golden hair and a tattered dress which became dirty and turned black. Without shoes, she was standing on the ground barefoot. It was Sophie. Though her appearance was miserable and covered all over with wounds, her pupils of beryl gave off an unwavering strong will and there was a bishop's staff glowing gold in her hands, which were bound by shackles of iron.
---She shouldn't have that thing.
Hamish could not voice out his surprise. His recognition was right, the golden bishop's staff which was in Sophie’s hands was something that was taken up and thrown away into the sea when Elliot caught her. And now, in response to Sophie’s will, it crossed over the space and came back.
A man with the captain status shouted something in Muozinel language. It was probably an order along the line “There should be no problem even if you injure her, but capture her alive”. Muozinel soldiers tried to stab her all at once.
Hamish, who tried to stop them by raising his voice, witnessed an amazing scene.
Sophie skillfully avoided the herd of naked (dazzling) swords which approached from all directions, or blocked them with the bishop's staff that was in both hands. Her arms were impaired due to the shackles, and moreover those shackles were connected to a heavy iron ball by the iron chain. Despite that, she was even able to fight back.
The wind groaned, and a golden flash drew a vivid trajectory in the atmosphere. Whenever Sophie wielded her staff, the Muozinel soldiers uttered a short groan and were struck to the ground one after another.
In contrast to the Muozinel soldiers who faltered, Sophie straightened up her back as if she did not feel fatigue, and stared at the remaining enemies with a firm attitude. That appearance was unmistakably that of a Vanadis stated to be a match for a thousand – a certain beautiful Brilliant Princess of the Light Flower with her ViraltDragonic Tool “Light Flower”.
Several more people were beaten by Sophie, and finally there were only two Muozinel soldiers who were standing near the tent left. It was the man with the status of Captain and another person.
The two men attacked Sophie from front and rear. Sophie first defeated the enemy in the rear. After that, she tried to take down the enemy in the front with a return blow, but the golden staff cut the sky.
The enemy in the front – the man with the status of Captain lowered his body, vigorously slid on the ground without hesitation and dodged Light Flower. The man’s aim was not Sophie, but the chain, which spread from her handcuffs.
The man grabbed the chain, and strongly pulled it. The golden-haired Vanadis lost her balance and fell down.
Sophie twisted her body and barely avoided the sword that sharply thrust out. But, without being able to completely dodge it, the bosom of the dress was greatly torn up. A red line ran on her white skin, and her rich bosom was exposed.
“So you won’t become quiet if I don’t chop one of your arms, huh.”
The man spit out in irritation as he raised his body while grasping the chain with his left hand.
Immediately after, a sound which tore the air briefly reverberated, and the man’s body violently slanted and fell down. An arrow had pierced through his head, and the blood which flowed out dyed the ground red.
“Are you alright?”
It was Hamish who called out so, while rushing to Sophie. Though he was watching her fight in fascination until a while ago, he came to his senses at Sophie’s danger, quickly shot an arrow, and killed the Muozinel Captain.
While holding out his rough hands to the golden-haired Vanadis, Hamish’s eyes were attracted to her chest. A color of lust was flickering in the eyes of the longbow user.
Though Sophie noticed the man’s expression, hiding her skin was not easy with her body on which shackles with weights was set. She twisted her body and hunched (rolled) her back trying to escape from Hamish’s gaze. In that tempo, the golden staff in her hands lightly stuck the ground and issued a cool sound.
As Hamish came to his senses from the sound of the staff, he strongly shook his head as to brush away idle thoughts. The enemy would soon reach there. He had to leave this place as soon as possible.
Releasing his gaze from Sophie, Hamish looked at the surroundings. His eyes stopped at one point.
From far away, there was a shadow of horsemen which was overtly approaching. Hamish’s excellent eyesight caught the exact figure of a person who was riding a horse. It was a youth who probably had not yet reached 20 years of age. Darkish red hair. Leather armor. Light brown overcoat. And a black bow in the left hand.
A smile appeared on his lips. Hamish did not even know that this youth was called “Tigrevurmud Vorn”. He only knew one thing - that he was an owner of formidable archery skills. And for him it was enough.
If the person approaching was Tallard for example, Hamish would have used Sophie as hostage without hesitation. But, the enemy was ‘that’ bow user (archer). For Hamish, It was an opponent who he must defeat with his own bow.
---Approximately five hundred Alsins ……!
While taking out an arrow and nocking it to his longbow, he determined the distance between Tigre and him by eye. One might say that it was a miraculous situation. Although they encountered at such a distance in this chaotic battlefield, there was nothing else which could become an obstacle between the youth and him.
As he expressed his good luck to the Knights of the Round Table and slightly inhaled breath, Hamish strongly drew the longbow to the limit while firmly standing on the ground. The bowstring made a slightly creaky sound. At this time, within the man’s head there was only the youth who he aimed at. The war, Sophie, and Elliot had completely disappeared (from his mind).
Ahead of Hamish’s line of sight, the youth had also nocked an arrow to his black bow.
--- If he approaches to 300 Alsins, he will probably also shoot his arrow. I must defeat him before that……!
He did not think it was unfair. The bow was such a weapon. It was meant to attack from a distance where the enemy’s weapons could not reach. That youth with the black bow should also know it.
The distance, which was 500 Alsins, shortened to 400 Alsins. It was within the firing range, but Hamish fixed his breathing, and desperately endured the urge to release his finger. It’s still early. A little more.
--- 370, 360...... 340!
The bowstring trembled, and the arrow clothed in wind was shot. Looking at the arrow drawing a splendid curve and flying to Tigre, Hamish revealed a smile of the satisfaction. The ideal trajectory. It was the best arrow.
As he could no longer release the horse’s dash, he wouldn't make it in time even if he tried to dodge it to the right or the left. Even if he hid himself on the horseback, this arrow had enough power to pierce through the horse’s neck and the youth respectively.
It was at that time that Tigre shot his arrow. Hamish knit his brows. It was not yet a distance which could be reached. Despite the fact that the wind was very weak, it was a headwind for Tigre.
---Did he panic at my flying arrow, and inadvertently shoot it?
However, Hamish’s guess was denied almost a moment after. The arrow shot from the black bow pierced through the wind and collided right with Hamish’s arrow, which was going to hit Tigre.
Although Hamish’s arrow smashed Tigre’s arrow, as a result it was significantly deviated from its original trajectory; however, as if to prove its power, it pierced deeply into the ground.
The longbow user of Asvarre stood on the spot with his mouth half-opened, befuddled. It was more than a surprise(shock). He could not believe what he saw.
Tigre did not inadvertently release the arrow. Neither did he aim at Hamish. He aimed at the arrow, which was flying towards him.
“No way!” was the groan, which leaked from between Hamish’s trembling lips.
Such a thing was beyond human ability. Hamish had encountered and spoken with many bow users within the country of Asvarre, and had also listened to anecdotes and traditions concerning the bow.
But, he had never heard any story of a person shooting down an arrow which was flying toward him with a bow and an arrow. ‘Is it a kind of demon or monster?’
For a moment, a strange scene was reflected in Hamish’s eyes. It was not the youth, who was riding the horse, but a jet black dragon the size of a human being. It was folding huge wings, and was scowling at Hamish as if crouching down on horseback.
It was of course an illusion. When he came to his senses, the youth with darkish red hair had already nocked a new arrow to the bow and was looking at this direction. Hamish, who noticed it, also hurriedly nocked a new arrow to his bow.
However, it was late. Though it was a very short time of about four breaths that Hamish was struck dumb, Tigre fully drew his bow and had also shortened the distance in the meantime.
The youth released the arrow. Hamish, who was slightly late, also let the sound of his bowstring resound.
Tigre’s arrow deeply pierced the forehead of the longbow user with a big body. On the other hand, the arrow that Hamish shot had grazed the youth’s cheek and flew away to the wrong direction.
Hamish fell down with eyes wide-opened. When his large back reached the ground, he ceased to breathe. Between his death and the fact that he missed the shot, only he knew which one he regretted more.
As Tigre came running straight, he stopped the horse in front of Sophie. Covered with sweat, blood, dust, and heavily breathing, he went down from the horse without spare time to fix his breathing and approached the golden-haired Vanadis.
When he stood in front of Sophie, Tigre finally noticed the disastrous scene of the dress that she was wearing. While having a face dyed red, he hid Sophie’s chest by quickly covering her shoulders with his overcoat. Then, he turned a painful look at the iron shackles that were binding her hands, and showed a worrying expression.
“Are you all right?”
Sophie's reaction was dull. She was dumbfounded, and was staring in wonder as if she saw something unbelievable. But, as she realized that the youth standing in front her was neither a dream nor an illusion, her eyes of the beryl got wet instantly, and large teardrops overflowed from her eyes and ran down her cheeks.
Sophie hugged the youth as she bumped into him with the momentum; she buried her face in his chest and wept. Like a young lost child who found his mother.
Although Tigre wore a surprised look, he immediately revealed a calm smile and put his right arm around Sophie’s back, and gently hugged her.
The two people were like that for a while. Be that as it may, it was at least to the extent of counting to 100. The roar of horses’ hooves and the war cry which was approaching made the two people raise their faces.
As she came to her senses, Sophie suddenly got embarrassed for a lot of reasons. For having had an overcoat applied, for having cried, and for having given a tight hug like this now.
Not seeming ladylike, suddenly words did not come out. Why are you in Asvarre? Why are you in this battlefield? Really what kind of situation is it? Questions were springing out one after another, but rather than solving them, Sophie decided to deceive herself who became emotional.
“A Princess, who had a Prince save her, I wonder if it’s such a feeling.”
“……What a Prince and a Princess fairly smeared with blood and mud!”
Exchanging silly jokes, and laughing off each other’s appearances, Sophie seemed to have finally regained her composure. However, her hands were still strongly grasping the hem of Tigre’s clothes.
The group of cavalrymen, who came running through the meadows, went past the left and right of the two people. Among them, only one horseman turned over his horse and came back towards Tigre and Sophie. It was Tallard.
“Is that beautiful Princess Miss Vanadis?”
From the horseback, Tallard inquired in a joking tone. Tigre nodded.
Although Sophie did not yet know that the young man before her eyes was the General Commander of this army, from the reaction of Tigre standing next to her she judged that it was someone who should be treated with courtesy. She parted from Tigre, stepped forward and slightly bowed her head. The chain extending from the shackles around her hands jingled and jangled.
“Excuse me for such an appearance. I am Sophia Obertas, a Vanadis of Zchted.”
“I see. I have heard that you were made prisoner by Elliot; it must have been hard for you. Excuse me for speaking to you on horseback, because of the battlefield. I'm Tallard Graham. As a representative of Her Highness Princess Guinevere, I shall place you under my protection.”
“I have heard rumors about you. I apologize for the hardships, but I will be in your care.”
While maintaining the courtesy of as a messenger, Sophie bowed her head again. Replying to her ‘Please do not worry’ Tallard turned his gaze to Tigre.
“Didn’t you see Elliot?”
Tigre shook his head. When looking around, the pirates were escaping, scattering in all directions, and the war had already shifted to a mopping-up war. Tigre asked Tallard.
“Did he escape?”
“It seems so. If he were to escape to the Main Island, it would be troublesome.”
Irritation and impatience appeared on Tallard’s face. At that time, Sophie spoke.
“I think I can be of help for Lord Tallard.”
Even while she was locked up in the tent, Sophie had been pricking up her ears and listened to the talks of Elliot and the pirates. Since she was in the tent, there were often things she could not catch too; but she could guess the situation from the fragments of their conversation.
“If Prince Elliot escapes eventually aiming at the Main Island, then—”
Going back about ten days, a brief description of Tallard Graham's actions after sending out Tigre and the others to Fort Lux is as follows:
He first headed towards Princess Guinevere. Concerning the Princess’ location, since Tallard’s subordinate Kress Dill had been investigating it, he immediately traced it.
Although at first Guinevere refused to meet Tallard, when she was told about Jermaine’s death, she had granted him an audience. And Tallard, if you asked him, “courted” the Princess.
While Guinevere’s proponents were few, even among them those who decided to bet on Tallard provided soldiers and food. On the other hand, Kress Dill and the others called out to potential (promising) nobles among those of the Jermaine faction and the neutral faction, and their soldiers to come forth with weapons.
Thus in less than ten days, when he was returning to Valverde with a little less than ten thousand soldiers gathered, Tallard received reports by the messenger sent by Ludra.
He hurriedly changed his course to Salentes, and made it just in time. Especially, one might say that it was luck that the squad of catapults was in an area near Salentes. If they were still slightly away, and did not make it in time to the battle, the damage on Tallard's army would probably have increased.
In a place far away from the battlefield, Elliot learnt of his army's defeat. The field of Salentes was a meadow with few ups and downs, and although the sun had long ago passed the zenith, the sky was still bright. The full stampede of Elliot army was clearly evident even from a distance.
Anyway, with the thought ‘I must escape’, the second Prince of Asvarre rode the horse. He muttered the word ‘North’ many times over as if talking in delirium.
In preparation just in case of such situation, Elliot let several ships wait in the village of Luarca. If he reached the village of Luarca, he should be able to go back to the Main Island at once.
Although burning the village of Luarca was in order to satisfy the pirates’ desire for the time being, it was not only that. He was also thinking that there would not be such a stalwart man who would search around burned villages.
“That’s right. Even if Tallard looks for me, he will probably dip from territory of Fort Lux and Hamish. And while he has lost sight of me, I will return to the Main Island. I will once again gather soldiers, and I will bury Tallard and Guinevere together……!”
However, it took some time before Elliot reached the village of Luarca. This was because he had to proceed carefully since there was no attendant and there was only one horse.
During daytime, he hid himself in the bushes which deviated from the highway, and during night, he ran in the highway on horseback. He snuck into villages and colonies near the highway, and stole food and water. Although he had a sword, it did not mean that Elliot excelled in military arts. Stealing (taking away) brazenly from the front was dangerous.
Continuing his elopement while being tormented by the sense of humiliation, three days passed since Elliot managed to come back to the village of Luarca from the battle of Salentes.
The remains of destruction and plunder by the pirate was fresh - the buildings were entirely burned, only leaving slightly charred pillars and walls.
Many traces of blood blurred on the ground, and what remained unburnt was scattered about. Corpses, which were falling over here and there had become the feed of sea birds and crows.
In the depths of the fishing village that turned into ruins, there was the figure of three ships on the wharf of poor structure. Elliot revealed a smile of relief in a weary expression.
“It’s me! It’s Elliot! Lower the ladder at once!”
Though a doubtful voice ‘what is it’ broke out from the pirates on board, at any rate they prepared a ladder and connected the ship and the wharf.
It was at that time. Dozens of cavalrymen appeared at the entrance of the village.
Although Elliot’s face unintentionally turned pale first, he immediately put on a triumphant expression, and he showered ridicule to the far-off cavalrymen. Given each other's distance, even if the cavalry were to run at full speed, they could no longer catch him. He succeeded in escaping.
Irritatedly getting off the horse, Elliot climbed the ladder and jumped in the ship. As he turned his gaze at the cavalrymen, he wondered if they gave up, since they had not moved from the entrance of the village.
“It’s regrettable. You should be mortified there as much as possible and see me off.”
However, Elliot frowned. The shadows of three horsemen entered the village.
It was Tigre, Olga and Sophie. There were no longer iron shackles on Sophie’s hands. When they saved her, it was smashed by Olga’s Roaring Demon.
The ship left the wharf. On the other hand, Tigre and the others stopped their horses in a place about 300 Alsins away from the wharf, and got down on the ground.
When Tigre nocked an arrow to the black bow, he calmly drew the bowstring to the limit. In response to it, the ViraltDragonic Tools of the two Vanadis standing on both sides of the youth respectively emitted a different light.
From the Roaring Demon in Olga’s hands, a pale rose light scattered, and as one wondered whether it would crawl on the ground, it softly floated and was sucked into the arrow that Tigre held.
Light Flower, which Sophie held, emitted countless particles of golden light, and while drawing a golden rainbow in the air, it likewise flowed to the arrow.
The two lights overlapped as to wrap up the arrow, or they mingled (merged) and became a whirlpool of two colors. Each drop of light condensed a power of destruction and crystallized. It poured continuously, increasing the radiance of the glow wrapping the arrow every second.
The atmosphere shook as if being daunted by the power swelling endlessly, and dust whirled. The earth subtly rumbled. Though the horses, which the three people were riding, were frightened and ran away, nobody paid attention to it.
Both Olga and Sophie, speechless and holding their breaths, were staring at this spectacle. Though both of them were able to keep their calm simply because they had already experienced it once, it was the best they could do.
There were pirates and cavalrymen who were inquiring on the situation from afar, and though being astir, could not take their eyes off Tigre. In their eyes, it looked as if Tigre himself was shining. Though some strong-willed persons were trying to laugh, no one went along with it.
Everyone held the firm belief of witnessing the existence of a power beyond human knowledge before their eyes, and unwittingly mouthed the name of the God who they believed in.
The arrow was released.
A moment, it was wrapped in a flash of light and changed into a sharp spear of light. A jet black spear made of clod which was formed around it was born innumerably, and while surrounding the spear of light in a spiral, charged at the speed of a gust of wind.
A storm accompanied with a roaring sound violently blew, the atmosphere caught in it turned into a tornado, and all that was before the arrow's course was swept away. The ground was scooped out as if it was torn off by the behemoth, rolled up on the right and left, and built up deeply distorted ridges (uplifts) and grooves.
The wharf was blown off without leaving any trace, the sea was divided in two, and many grand columns of water were spurted out. Even when tearing the earth and sea, the arrow, with its power totally unabated, directly hit the tonnage of the ship which was floating over there.
Though there was a single breaking sound which echoed in the empty sky, multiple damages occured. Among the three ships lined up on the wharf, the bows of two ships were shattered, and a huge hole was drilled in the tonnage.
A hole was pierced so splendidly that it was visible to the back, and the spear of light and clod went straight ahead and vanished beyond the sea.
The pirates, who were dumbfounded, came to their senses when the ship which they were riding tilted (slanted). The sea water flowed at a stretch through the hole of the tonnage. Screams rose from the deck, and the pirates fell one after another into the sea.
Though one safe ship luckily deviated from the path of the arrow, they did not try to help their comrades. They hurriedly rowed their paddles, and moved away from the wharf.
Tigre, remaining in the stance that he shot the arrow, was staring at the pirates standing at the center of the village. As for the pirates, they did not know when a second shot would be fired.
While clinging to the boat side of the ship which began to sink, Elliot was looking at the sea with indecisive eyes (with eyes that are not decided of a focus). To the event, which transcended the understanding, his mind forsook whatever kind of thoughts (his head gave up thinking).
The pirates, who jumped into the sea, crawled to the village while feebly swimming. As they had completely lost the will to fight, either they sat on the ground, or they lay down. Even when catching sight of cavalrymen proceeding through the village, none of them even tried to stand up.
Seemingly reluctant to resist, they were captured by the Asvarre army along with Elliot.
It was yesterday that Tigre and the others arrived at the village of Luarca. If the information which Sophie got hold of was right, a wharf was built in a fishing village that turned into ruins and three ships of pirates were floating there.
The fact that they did not immediately call for reinforcements and subjugate the pirates, was because they thought that if they maintained the status quo as it is, Elliot would probably come.
And Tigre asked Ludra, who led the cavalrymen, to entrust him the task of defeating them. Though there were several reasons, Tigre could not simply forgive Elliot, who burnt and destroyed villages.
To Tigre, who finally lowered the black bow, there was someone, who called out. It was Ludra. There was not the usual calm on his face, and his eyes could not hide his surprise and bewilderment.
“What is it, Ludra-dono?”
Tigre looked at him with a calm attitude. After being about to speak, and sighing not knowing what he should ask, Ludra dared to frankly throw an abstract question.
“What was that just now?”
“I don’t know it well myself, but it’s the power of this bow.”
Tigre showed to Ludra the black bow which he was grasping tightly. Ludra turned a gaze, as if looking at something eerie, towards the bow. But, what he asked was another thing.
“Um……For example, when we attacked Fort Lux, were you able to use the power of that bow?”
Ludra’s voice was tinged with a sound close to a confirmation rather than a question. He might have been reminded that the Commander room of Fort Lux had been destroyed by a power absolutely impossible for a human (to yield).
However, Ludra seemed to want to say that this and that were different issues. Before Tigre could answer, the red-haired knight of Asvarre spoke vehemently.
“For example, as for destroying the castle gate and the rampart, weren’t you able to do it? Even during the battle in Salentes, and……”
‘If you could do it, might more soldiers not have survived? We might have avoided burning the villages, forcing villagers to refuge?’ Though Ludra did not put these thoughts into words, his look was strongly appealing to his inner thoughts.
“Ludra-dono. This power is not that convenient.”
It was Sophie, who said so. Though her usual smile was not on her face, her graceful appearance spoke of her dignity, and her translucent voice made one care to hear her story.
“Even Lord Tigrevurmud, who is the owner of the bow, cannot freely handle this power. It’s very difficult to handle that we don’t even know when it could rebel against the will of its master, and also when it could consume its master and run wild. It’s also for that reason that he has kept you away.”
Sophie’s explanation was a lie. Well, at least it was not true. It was something that she made up in the talk with Tigre along the way before arriving to this village.
If they captured Elliot here, the civil war will end. Then, displaying this power at the end might work in favor of future diplomacy. At least it would not be disadvantageous. Sophie judged so, and Tigre consented to use the power of the black bow.
By the way, Olga declared that she would cooperate without hesitation if it was a request of Tigre, and Sophie thought that that straightforward attitude was heartwarming.
“I understand that you turned out to think like that. However, Lord Tigrevurmud also has his own circumstances. I am not going to say that I want you to understand that, but……”
Sophie gently restrained Ludra. In the first place, if the countries they served were different, their purposes would be different, too. At last, Ludra also regained his usual calm, and clearly sensing a will of denial from her words, he slightly nodded.
“It was something like that, huh. No, Excuse me for being rude.”
She could not tell him in detail. If he was said so, in Ludra’s position, there was no point to ask further questions. Besides, the plan, which was Elliot’s capture, was a success. He should be satisfied with this now.
The civil war of the Kingdom of Asvarre came to an end.
Elliot Bloom Godwin Nathaniel Galahad Asvarre was to be executed several days later in the royal capital of Colchester, his head displayed on a pillar close to the palace.
- I think, it’s to say that what you wanted to convey was received by the soldiers
- like to say, they often betrayed their employers
- here, it means that the pirates are only strong when they are on sea.
- I think here comrades referred to the pirates’ comrades
- Even if there are a large reward after that
- abusive language
- Here it’s to say that the pirates had already broke through Tigre and the others’ lineup
- military supplies unit
- a huge animal
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