Chapter 549: Road to Kingdom ⑥ 1 vs. 3
I can see Celia hurrying to follow me.
Sekrit is regrouping the struggling wagon infantry.
Yakov is yelling some kind of order to his men and Leopolt is giving instructions to the whole army.
「Undo the defensive formation! Move the spear unit to the front!」
「Have all the archers aim in front……although he is one man, this is Lord Hardlett we’re talking about! Shoot him before he gets close!」
The royal army also changes formation.
All the movements on the battlefield are centered around me.
What a fun feeling.
Rocks and oil crash down from above the heads of the archers trying to launch a volley of arrows.
The harpies resume their bombing after evading the previous countermeasure.
「The big one’s coming too!!」
Pochi flies at a low altitude, blowing fire at the enemies and gouging the city walls with his claws.
The splendid stone surface is cut like butter and debris falls down on the kingdom’s soldiers.
Moreover Pochi skims the ground barely touching it and swipes at crowds of soldiers.
It would appear he is a vicious dragon assaulting humans indiscriminately, but he is actually closing his eyes and swinging his arms and legs randomly.
Their aim switches from me to Pochi without delay.
Arrows are fired into the air and ballistae also unleash their bolts.
「I’d be scared if they were shooting at the harpies, but not Pochi.」
Compared to the harpies who are simply faster than a horse, Pochi’s flying speed is several times faster than that.
No matter how large his body is, he is not a target which can be hit easily by a ballista.
「Arrows won’t affect him in the first place.」
Pochi comfortably glides through the rain of arrows.
His scales are tougher than steel. Arrows can’t penetrate any part of his body.
「It might be bad if an arrow enters his eye……though he has them closed.」
Pochi dislikes violence and shuts his eyes during close combat.
While it is an unbelievably bad habit, he also effectively eliminates one weakness.
Then all of a sudden, Pochi appears to writhe in midair.
「They hit his other weak spot……」
That weak spot is his anus. This is the sole area lacking scales.
Well, arrows are like needles in Pochi’s perspective. He will feel no more than a prick.
「You guys, don’t get distracted by the dragon! I ordered you to shoot in front!」
「But captain, it’s impossible to ignore something of that size and with that firepower!!」
「A hundred or two hundred sacrifices are trivial! Something more troublesome than a dragon is coming in front……」
The eyes of the arguing soldier and commander meet with mine.
「Hey. I’m here.」
I spin my Keravnos twice before the commander can shout the order.
The head of the soldier scrambling for his crossbow is sliced once diagonally from below the eyebrow.
The second slice is at the neck and the bottom part of the head falls backward before the top part slides off and hits the ground.
Schwartz raises his forelegs and stomps the royal army soldier, and I bisect the commander’s torso diagonally with my Dual Crater at the same time.
「Please don’t go off alone like you always do!」
Celia and the escort squad flood in.
「Argh, they jumped in while you were distracted by the dragon. Deploy the spearmen!」
「Pinch the cavalry from both sides. The enemy’s ranks are thin and they are relying on momentum, they will run out of steam if we survive the first attack!」
「Leave the aerial enemies to the capital defense team! Allowing 50 or so to attack freely won’t deal us critical damage. We’ll be fine as long as we don’t panic!」
The Celia-led escort unit collides with the spearmen of the royal army.
Although the spears for the most part contain the momentum of the heavy cavalry, those in the escort squad are a collection of especially talented individuals assigned to my personal army and are able to brush away the spears and encroach on the crossbows.
On the other hand, the spearmen show no signs of collapsing, as they either align their spearheads and thrust simultaneously or pull back slightly to absorb the impact and then push forward again.
Celia dodges a lunging spear on horseback by tilting her body to one side, then fires a one-handed crossbow.
She proceeds to leap up, throw a knife while twisting her body in midair, then lands in the spot of the fallen soldier, and in a rolling motion slices the legs of several other soldiers in the vicinity.
As Celia stood up, the soldiers watching faltered, probably because of her skill or because they recognized her face.
I want to think that it’s because Celia is too cute.
Celia spins her body on the spot and throws out another knife.
One kingdom soldier deflects it with the shaft of his spear, but because of the disarray in the wall of spears, the second attack resulted in three fallen soldiers.
The escort unit charges into the space created by the three fallen soldiers.
Celia gives the deeply-wounded soldiers a parting glance and then delivers a final thrust of her sword into their necks with cold eyes.
I guess she has suppressed her emotions so she can act swiftly and without any hesitation.
Our army and the royal army were allies literally one week ago.
「We’ll get through here and……ah!?」
One of the escort unit members defeats one royal army soldier, knocking off his helmet in the process.
There was a brief awkwardness between the two and they quickly changed targets to another soldier and another escort unit member respectively.
Perhaps the unnatural behavior was due to them being acquaintances.
「Get ready――! You are……」
A royal army soldier freezes when he sees the face of the female knight of the escort squad who curls up after she was hit off her horse by a spear thrust.
「I was concerned about you. Yori and I――」
「An opening, die!!」
The woman gets up and slashes at the soldier, then returns to battle.
Well, this kind of thing happens too.
He rampages with his war hammer, stepping over fallen soldiers and crushing shields and spears.
That scene combined with Mack’s giant frame made him look like a wild beast.
I let out a sigh.
Mack wasn’t stirred up by the heat of battle, he was flailing and howling to block out unnecessary thoughts.
I can tell from how he is mercilessly flattening any enemies in his path and not finishing off any of them.
If this was any other battlefield, he would be doing just that.
A soldier whose armor was smashed and leg was broken points his spear at Mack on the ground.
「Not good enough, rebel……this is where you――」
That is when I black shadow flies in.
「Watch out, Mack!!」
Christoph in a full set of armor blocks the royal army soldier’s spear.
Then he has his sword flicked away after a fierce sword fight, which causes him to step back.
Why are you fighting with an opponent whose foot is broken and losing……?
However Christoph acts like he won and stands back-to-back with Mack.
「I know you’re conflicted. But it’s no use if you die. Fight and survive, then we can once again ――」
Christoph blocks the slash of an incoming royal army soldier and tries to kick him away, but ends up being tripped instead and is about to be finished off until Mack saves him.
「Let’s drink together!」
Christoph smiles, a strike closing in on his back.
Luckily it hits his armor and the attack bounces off, but when the enemy tries to deliver the finishing blow, Zillia jumps in to save him.
「I never thought I would feel such happiness in the company of men.」
Mack must also have found others in the royal army who are like-minded and got along well with him.
My selfishness went and turned all of them against him.
Anyone who could go “well, that’s a rebellion” and go kill those buddies without a second thought is a heartless puppet. The fact that they are struggling to come to terms with my decision and having doubts, yet still follow me is proof they are real, living beings.
Myla rushes into the royal army’s formation with the remaining chariots.
Counterattacks by spears and arrows are not enough to neutralize the chariots.
The chariots stirred up trouble until crossbows aimed at the horses.
Myla herself is wearing black and red paint on her face and weapon on top of changing the color of her armor.
That’s one way of coping. ……I just hope it’s not irreversible.
Sekrit leads the wagon unit straight into the spearmen.
Since they aren’t armored, the wagons topple once the horses are skewered by spears.
However, the infantry inside jumps out from the wagons which were carried into the enemy ranks by the residual momentum.
「Rout the spearmen. If the enemy pulls back, move forward and stick to them. Or else you will become a target for the archers.」
Sekrit herself is on top of a wagon.
She is obviously being shot at, but she spins around like she’s dancing and evades arrows and thrusts from spears.
When a knight tries to climb up the wagon and slash her, she uses the prosthetic arm to catch the blade.
「Hoh. You’ve got guts.」
Sekrit easily brushes the sword away, feints a slash and stomps on the knight’s toes.
Despite being military boots, the toe area does not have much armor. The knight screams like his foot broke.
Sekrit bends backward to dodge the desperate sideways sweep of the knight’s sword, then uses the recoil from bringing her body forward to instantly close the distance, puts a finger into the knight’s mouth and then smiles as she plunges her sword deep into his throat.
「It’s a shame you were handsome. Shall I give you a kiss before you die?」
She lowers her face to his open lips as she twists her sword and kisses……or so I thought, as she bites down and tears his upper lip before smirking.
「There you go. The fate of a rebel is misery. In order to survive, I need Hardlett to win.」
Sekrit jumps down from the wagon seconds before a bunch of arrows hit.
「That’s her original nature.」
Everyone is fighting bravely.
However, as I am overlooking the situation, I can tell the tides of battle are not shifting in our favor.
Erich must still be thinking that things are going as planned.
At this rate, we won’t win.
「It’s not enough.」
I accelerate on Schwartz and join the escort squad in charging straight at the spear unit.
「He came over! It’s Lord Hardlett!」
「The captain is right, he isn’t an opponent you can stop with a wall of spears! Projectiles! Throw any projectiles you have at him!」
Crossbows aim at me.
There are 40 or 50. It isn’t a number small enough to ignore and also not a number I can endure the hits of.
My eyes focus on the trigger finger.
I stab my Dual Crater into the ground as Schwartz is sprinting, allowing the blade to dig out a trench, then I partially twist the handle and swing the sword forward.
I fling a mixture of sand, pebbles, rocks and clay at the crossbowmen.
Some were able to stop themselves from shooting.
Others were surprised and misfired in the wrong directions.
「It’s like a cannon……gueh!」
The spray of rubble directly hits some of the soldiers, preventing them from shooting.
50 bolts decreased to ten.
Additionally, four bolts lost speed after they were hit with the sediment, leaving only six I have to worry about.
I can’t use my Dual Crater after swinging it out.
And I can only spin my Keravnos and knock down two bolts.
Utilizing the flexibility of my spear, I deflect two bolts.
The other four――it can’t be helped.
I let three of the four bolts bounce off by hitting my armor.
Then I flex the muscles in my arm.
The bolt makes a thud as it goes into my left arm.
I unconsciously smile.
「I wonder why it doesn’t hurt.」
Royal army soldiers hastily point spears at me.
「I can even see the bolts clearly.」
My Keravnos cleanly splits the tip of an incoming spear in half.
Schwartz jumps at the same time, pushing aside the headless spear as he lands.
「Is it time to question what kind of human I am? What say you?」
The soldier with the headless spear nods.
I nod back and swing my Dual Crater in a semicircle.
On the right side, four royal army soldiers are cut in two at the chest.
I swing my Keravnos in a semicircle next.
On the left side, three royal army soldiers fall down after being slashed in the chest.
I don’t know if it’s because I flexed, but blood squirts out when I pull the bolt out of my left arm.
「Lord Hardlett is really a monster……」
「I want to believe otherwise.」
I sink my Dual Crater into the belly of the soldier, lift him up and throw the body at the adjacent spearmen.
As the crossbowmen turn around to retreat, I manage to stab the back of one with my Keravnos, who I use to fling at the other crossbowmen and knock them down.
I work my way inside-out with both weapons, cutting down soldiers left and right.
Bringing my free hands back, I cross my weapons together and dash forward cutting everything in my path.
「He’s tearing through our allies who get close……is he swinging side to side? I can only hear the whoosh of wind.」
「He isn’t looking anywhere except the front……yet he is killing our friends……no, he’s shredding them!」
From their perspective, I’m running while moving both hands and only facing forward.
If I was smiling, that would be quite terrifying.
We have encroached about one sixth of the way into the royal army’s ranks.
「Spearmen can’t stop him! Attack him from both sides with cavalry!」
「Don’t fight him one-on-one no matter what! He isn’t a warrior. Treat him as a calamity! Don’t think you can contain him or defeat him!」
「Behind at an angle……you can’t catch him like that. Anticipate his route and run into him from the side, then breakaway after one strike! Don’t even think about engaging him in swordplay! You’ll be minced meat once the thought forms in your mind!」
Horses come at me from the left and right.
They seem to want to tackle me.
Schwartz sticks out his forelegs and comes to a screeching halt.
The first two cavalry naturally travel in my path.
One is forced to point his spear at me, but before he could thrust it, I rip half of his face off with the Keravnos.
The other one determines it is impossible to attack and tries to pass by me instead.
Schwartz gains speed again and tackles the horse, knocking the cavalry into the air for me to cut in half.
A third cavalry charges in with a spirited yell.
「Too slow. It’s like you’re not even moving.」
I mean, I even have time to mutter excess words.
I grab the sword with my gauntlet and throw it towards the ground.
Because I threw with my full strength, it made a sound like rotten fruit was being squished.
The slash had more power than I thought when I tried receiving it.
In other words, the opponent’s speed was not slow, it was my speed that increased.
What’s more, the crossbow bolt fired from horseback is clearly visible.
I avoid the projectile aimed between my eyebrows with ease, and return the favor by lunging at the same spot with my Keravnos.
The tip which pierces through his cranium and ruptures what’s inside makes the entire head explode, propelling the spear back out.
That saves me the effort of having to pull it out.
The fifth cavalry is halved and the rider of the sixth cavalry falls off his horse while spinning.
The seventh to the eleventh cavalry are decapitated at the same time, and the twelfth cavalry drops to the ground with his chest caved in.
I try inhaling deeply in the middle of my run.
My lungs did not fill up with air.
「I-it’s no good. He’s not even slowing down!」
「We knew of his exploits. We knew of his alias! He……was he even stronger than that!?」
I can feel their apprehension.
I’m not normally this strong.
This is a bit of a special case in my opinion.
Gazing behind me, I see the others struggling.
The situation is one where the bow cavalry are stopped by the irregularly-deployed defensive formation and the 105th army corps is desperately resisting the partial envelopment attempt by the royal army. Irijina’s cavalry also don’t have any openings to charge due to a combination of well-timed shooting and well-placed spears.
Sekrit’s wagon unit succeeded in breaking through repeatedly, but every time a new line of defense was put in their path.
They are technically pushing the enemy back, albeit at a snail’s pace.
「Then I gotta go forward, further forward.」
If everyone can’t advance, then I have to advance as the one who suggested the rebellion.
Next to step forth are the heavily-armed kingdom knights.
The escort squad accepts the challenge, but the difference in equipment and skill is minimal. In that case, the escort squad is quickly cornered by sheer numbers.
「Lord Hardlett, fight me――」
The knight’s hands dance in the air before his sentence is finished.
Before he could finish screaming, the next man is sliced in half vertically.
Before his guts could spill to the ground, the front half of the next man and the head of his horse is chopped off.
「Full plate armor……cut like paper.」
「What is that wicked sword!? A red vapor is emanating from its blade……」
The escort squad is eventually pushed back and withdraws, leaving me as the sole person moving forward.
And when I finally broke past a certain point, the space in front of me opened up.
I slow Schwartz down and raise a hand.
I also show a friendly smile.
「……to think you could single-handedly break through that defense. You aren’t human after all.」
Bruno states with a sigh.
At the same time, three knights who appear to be under his direct command come running at me in unison.
「Hey! You guys are no match――」
His words barely leave his mouth and two arms, one head, and one upper body dance in the air.
「……to be honest, I knew. I knew it would turn out like this for sure. I would have to settle things with my own hand.」
Agor, the assistant commander, stands beside Bruno.
「Guh, they let him through――! I won’t let this traitor go any further……」
Cedric comes running from behind them.
So you’re the one who told the knights to attack?
I motion with my hand for Cedric to move to where Agor and Bruno are and dismount from Schwartz.
「What game are you playing!?」
Seeing I am on foot, another knight rushes out from behind Cedric and charges at me.
「Don’t put a damper on our reunion.」
I deflect the incoming sword with my Dual Crater and kick the horse’s leg from the side, breaking it and tripping the knight.
I raise my sword, ready to swing down at the head of the knight, who seems to have broken an arm during the fall, but then――
「Aggh……i-is this where I meet my end……」
Oh, since it’s a woman, I do no more than steal her lips.
Now the nuisance is gone.
I stick my Keravnos into the ground, and smile as I rest the Dual Crater on my shoulder.
「Do we need words?」
The three of them shake their heads.
「It’s meaningless to chat at this point.」
「I do not want to pour water on your resolve. All that’s left is to fight.」
「Why would I talk to a traitor……is my sister really safe?」
Bruno unsheathes a slender sword.
It is as thin as a needle and appears flimsy, but I have seen him wave that around on the battlefield to defeat many people.
This weapon, which sacrifices power for speed, is perfect for targeting vitals with pinpoint accuracy and can turn into a deadly tool depending on the user.
Agor readies himself in a battle stance, holding a large one-handed sword and a shield.
It’s a sturdy stance befitting his tendency of sticking to the basics.
Cedric wields a two-meter long spear, twirling it a few times before pointing the tip at me.
I see, so he’s a spear user.
I grip my Dual Crater with both hands.
「Who will you fight first?」
I sigh at Agor’s dumb question, and immediately glare with eyes exuding bloodlust.
「Don’t be conceited.」
A chill runs down the spines of all three individuals.
「Come at me together.」
「B-but that would be too――」
I leave my Dual Crater stabbed in the ground and dash at Agor, then punch his shield up and kick him in the torso. Agor could not react, let alone block.
Obviously, I held back so he only rolled a couple times on the ground.
I return to pick up my Dual Crater and look down at the coughing Agor.
「Any more complaints?」
「……none. I am aware it isn’t fair, however in order to repay my loyalty to Goldonia and above all my debt to Hardlett-dono, I shall defeat the war demon Hardlett right here.」
Agor plants his foot firmly on the ground.
I’m glad you understand.
「Well then, shall we go?」
「I shall display my loyalty to the military commissioner.」
Bruno and Cedric also ready their weapons accordingly.
The trio act simultaneously.
Their movements are synced like they practiced cooperating with each other.
I prevent Cedric’s spear from going for my throat by letting it hit my helmet.
My chestplate repels Agor’s full-powered sideways slash.
As the impact pushes my center of gravity slightly backwards, Bruno aims for my eye with his sword.
If I don’t dodge carefully, it will insert into my throat.
So I’ll do this.
I grab the thin sword from the side and snap it in half.
Agor and Cedric back off, and smack their armor to regain feeling in their numbed hands.
Bruno smiles sheepishly and tosses away his broken sword, then draws his spare from a scabbard attached to his thigh.
「Don’t grab a sword like it’s a normal thing to do.」
「It’s thin and fast so it’s actually quite difficult.」
I make the next move as I finish speaking.
I lower my body and charge in with my Dual Crater held up.
My target is Bruno, but Agor stands in front of him with his shield.
I wind my arm back……pretending to build up power, then lightly thrust at his shield.
Once his shield is knocked away, I see Agor waiting with his sword.
I knew it, he had a double layer protection.
With that in mind, I thrust at him with all my might this time.
Agor tries to parry, but his sword shatters along with his gauntlet, and he is sent crashing into the ground.
When I lift up my foot to stomp on the fallen Agor’s face, Cedric attacks from my left with his spear.
I shift only my head while maintaining a steady center of gravity to dodge, though when he follows up with a second and third strike, I am forced to take a step back.
As soon as I retreat a bit, Bruno comes rushing in with his sword.
He is by far faster than Cedric’s spear.
He also chains three strikes together. The attack is faster than earlier and it’s hard to catch with my hand.
I tilt my head to the left to avoid the first strike, bend my body back for the second, and turn while crouching to avoid the third.
I try to counter with a powerful sweep at the place Bruno will step in, but he reacts incredibly fast to evade it.
During my exchange with Bruno, Cedric circled around behind me.
I keep the momentum of my initial swing and spin to attack him.
I forced my posture to direct the slash at Cedric who was already in position to thrust with his spear.
Still, I am faster.
Instincts told Cedric it was a bad idea to compete with me, so he threw down his spear and hopped backwards.
My Dual Crater narrowly misses his body and grazes his steel armor, carving out a line across the surface.
Bruno exhales and Agor shakes his head.
Cedric retrieves his spear with a dazed expression.
「Even when parried, his attacks are powerful enough to send you flying, and a scratch is strong enough to destroy armor…… What an incredible person.」
Agor sighs in amazement.
「I was confident in my speed, I didn’t think you could dodge my three consecutive strikes from that posture.」
Bruno cracks his neck.
「Haa haa……half a second later and I would have……」
Half a second? In one tenth of a second, your innards would have flown out.
「This is more entertaining than I expected. But I don’t have time.」
The disadvantage to my rear is becoming clearer.
They are barely maintaining an offense, although if they stop attacking, everything will collapse.
I have no other option than to break through here.
「We’ll finish it with the next clash.」
The other two agree with my declaration, meanwhile Cedric stays silent.
All four of us step forth at the same time.
「If it’s just speed-!!」
Bruno jumps out ahead at a tremendous speed.
He charges in, holding his specialty thin sword, which he can freely manipulate with one hand.
Is he aiming for a one-hit kill move that utilizes his extreme speed?
That is certainly staggering speed.
At that speed, an ordinary man would not even realize the moment he is stabbed.
But that won’t work.
I’m still faster.
While locking my eyes on the tip of his fast-approaching sword, I also thrust my Dual Crater.
I will plunge the Dual Crater into Bruno’s belly and twist my neck to avoid the thin sword.
It is perfectly doable.
「You fell for it!!」
Except I don’t feel my strike land.
It’s because Bruno slowed down at the last moment, planted his foot to stop his momentum and jumped backward.
My thrust pierced air. Bruno was a decoy.
Passing under Bruno is Agor and Cedric.
My body is completely off-balance.
In this situation, I should roll out of the way and……then a shock shoots down my foot.
The shield Agor throws hit me in the left knee.
My body naturally leans to the left, and I miss my opportunity to dodge.
Agor’s sword and Cedric’s spearhead simultaneously stab into the left and right side of my torso respectively.
It feels like time stopped.
Cedric has a smug look on his face, while Agor seems more melancholic.
With my stomach penetrated from both sides……I slowly raise my sword.
The airborne Bruno freezes.
You were not fast enough. If you were twice as fast, my eyes would not have followed your movements and I would have fallen for the decoy.
In fact, I had more than enough time to concentrate on observing his movements.
The twitching of his muscles, the shift in his center of gravity――I knew he was going to jump out of the way at the last second.
Cedric’s face stiffens.
You were not strong enough.
Your spear was thrust into a gap in my armor. That takes skill.
But you lack power in your charge and arms, meaning your attack didn’t get past my muscles.
I look at Agor.
You did not have enough resolve.
Agor should have been able to surpass my ab strength with his arms.
However he hesitated. At the very last split second, he eased up and was about one finger short of piercing through.
「It was with your help that I was able to connect with Nonna. Thank you.」
I swing my Dual Crater down for a vertical slash.
Bruno shows me a frustrated smile like the time he lost a bet……and is cut in half.
I smash Cedric’s face with my right elbow.
The unrestrained blow breaks his nose and the bones in his face, and he also flies in the air before falling head-first to the ground.
My second swing is timed with Agor’s retracting and readying of his sword.
We both swing our swords, but it is my shoulder where blood squirts from.
「……I used up everything in that last attack.」
「Too slow, idiot.」
Agor is sliced from his shoulder to his side, and he falls to his knees first, then collapses face-up with his head gazing up to the sky.
I shake the blood from my sword.
Schwartz trots back toward me.
I have to move on.
But before that-.
I look down at Agor who is dying the ground red.
I don’t know what expression he is making, but I know that he wasn’t crying.
「That one desk you carried is being used by Celia right now. It has a cute pink cross on it.」
Celia’s indescribable gaze shifts from Agor to me, then to the sky.
「Enough……about…… Nonna-sama’s……moving……already……take care……of my woman……」
I grunt back affirmatively.
Agor closes his eyes peacefully, almost like he wasn’t cut down on the battlefield.
「This is halfway. There is still one more half to go.」
I climb on Schwartz and let out a roar.
Whether it’s to intimidate or to release emotion, I don’t know, but I continue roaring while moving forward.
The deaths of the corps commander and the assistant commander unsettled the royal army in the rear, and our ally forces resumed their advance.
Erich is the supreme commander though. He can reorganize them quickly.
「Go forward. Go forward. Just go forward.」
I shout as I spur Schwartz on.
Normally, he would neigh to tell me how noisy I am, but even he was quiet now.
Military Strength Comparison
Hardlett Rebel Army
Infantry: 2200 (-600)
Cavalry: 500 (-200)
Bow Cavalry: 3500 (-1500)
Wagon Infantry: 500 (-200)
Chariots: 0 (disabled)
Field Artillery: 15 (disabled)
Night Battle Unit
Vampire Raid Unit: 100
Aerial Reconnaissance and Bombing Unit
Harpies: 50 (ammunition shortage)
Mountain Nation: Approx. 4000
Goldonian Army – injured soldiers also considered losses
Ready to Fight: 37000
2 Army Corps: 20 000 (-4000)
Capital Defense: 15 000 (0)
Kingdom Knights Survivors: 0 (incapacitated)
In Preparation: 60 000
2 Army Corps: 30 000 (not much time until arrival)
Provisional Army: 30 000 (five days remaining)
Other Feudal Lords’ Armies: Unknown
Regional Troops: Immobilized