Chapter 97: Northern Disturbance ③ Detour the Invincible Fortress
–Third Person/ Treia POV–
Treia Western Region, City of Roleil
Count Fayeltin, who has made a portion of the towns and village, including Roleil, a part of his territory, shouts in a high-pitched voice.
「What is the Eastern Defence Forces doing?! Of all things to surrender completely, even though everyone swore allegiance to fight to the death!」
「They’re really disloyal and unforgivable.」
「This is something deserving a thousand deaths.」
「The enemy is probably close to Erg……the glory of Treia’s army has also fallen.」
The source of his bad mood is not limited to this. He has been a prominent feudal lord of this region up until now, holding a large amount of power, and his family name is quite well-known as well. But with the deterioration of relations between Goldonia, the situation was turned on its head; Marquess Dunois, the prime minister, is stressing defense while the military officials within his territory are throwing their weight around.
「The commander of the northern fortress was originally supposed to be me as well, so why is that senile old fool in charge!?」
「They’re really unbelievable fools.」
「This is something laughable.」
The Count purposely does not use its official name, the Majino fortress. He is the commander responsible for providing supplies to that fortress, and although his standing is the same, he is unavoidably seen and treated as the subordinate of the Majino fortress’s commander.
「If it’s that old fool, there’s no telling when that fortress will be broken through. When that happens, my territory will instantly be invaded!」
「It’s really a worrying chain of events.」
「This is something frightening.」
The Count himself doesn’t have any experience leading an army, and Count Majino is a specialist in defense, protecting the land from the repeated invasions of Arkland, so being a soldier is something he hasn’t thought about.
「Baron Bakka, Baron Doaho, Baronet Oroka. I’m going to make inspections, follow me!」[1. Nat: funny thing is, their names are slightly altered versions of idiot, stupid, and fool.]
「It’s really wonderfully dedication.」
「This deserves much respect.」
What he can do now is only to appear frequently in front of the soldiers, perform various duties in supplying, speak out and make his existence known.
Despite it being their own territory, the four of them inspect the town with guards, and while they were getting praise from those they attracted, one soldier on the watchtower shouts loudly.
「A single horse is coming this way!」
The Count and his three followers look at each other.
「The enemy? No, there’s no way they would come by themselves. A messenger from the imperial guards deployed by the forest…… don’t tell me they have been defeated as well. What do you guys think?」
「「「I don’t know!」」」
The one riding the horse arrives at the gate, but instead of the sound of the gate opening, he shouts in a loud voice.
「Urgent report! The enemy has gotten through the Erg forest and is already nearby! There’s no time, so prepare your defenses immediately!!」
The messenger screams as if his life depends on it, but the Count and his followers are more shocked than hurried.
「They broke through the Erg forest? There’s no way they could do that……」
The soldiers don’t believe something so sudden either.
「If they detoured to the forest, they should have fought with the imperial guards. Even if they lost by some chance, it would take them some time, and the messenger should have come from the imperial guards.」
They couldn’t imagine the man outside to be one of the imperial guards.
「Which means it might be a disturbance strategy by the enemy.」
If it’s a single cavalry, they might have snuck past the imperial guards in the dead of night.
「We’ll capture and interrogate-……」
The Count did not finish what he was going to say. It’s because all the soldiers that climbed on the watchtowers are shouting like crazy.
「「Enemy attack—!! An enormous amount of cavalry! They’re heading straight for us!!」」
「What are you saying-……」
The soft sound of rumbling gradually gets louder. For those in the army, it’s a sound they’ve all heard before – the sound of warhorses performing the march of death.
The Count climbs up the watchtower and pushes the soldiers out of his way. What he saw when he reached the top is a scene out of a nightmare; several thousand cavalry are charging towards him in several dozen columns. Not much can be seen behind them due to the massive dust cloud they are kicking up. The eyes that look on with fear are also estimating their numbers, but he definitely did not think it was such an unreasonable amount.
「C-close the gates!! I don’t care if you abandon the ones outside!!」
It was clear that there would be nothing left they could do if he let even a tenth of the approaching cavalry into the city. The soldiers are also moving as fast as possible, closing the gate immediately and preventing them from jumping in from the front gates.
The walls of the city Roleil are somewhat built for war with a portion being reinforced, but the fortress to the north is known more as the main linchpin in the defense. Even so, the Count cannot do anything but as much as he can to hold on and wait for backup.
「You guys should hurry and take command too! Lead your soldiers!」
The three followers’ legs gave out and they fell flat on their bottom. When the three of them proved useless, the Count was about to take direct control but then…….
An explosive sound and then the sound of something crumbling and falling down. The Count suppressed his instinct to not want to look back but when he turned his eyes to the source of the sound, there were chips of wood splintered everywhere and a large hole was made in the outer walls.
The soldier stares blankly at the hole and he wasn’t even able to finish what he was saying before another roar resounds and opens up a large hole in another place.
The soldiers distance themselves from the wall that basically could not serve its purpose anymore, and the herd of cavalry charge through the destroyed parts.
「Something like this……is……unbelievable……」
The voices of the Count who looked up at the sky dumbfoundedly, and his three followers were drowned out by the sound of the hooves.
「A large hole has been opened in the walls. The spear cavalry have successfully infiltrated the city.」
I can hear Leopolt’s emotionless voice sound a little worked up too. And more importantly, that iron barrel didn’t break.
「We forced it into the wagon after all. I was somewhat worried.」
The infantry that accompanied the siege weapons are trailing behind us. If we attack with the infantry, Roleil should fall easily, but it’ll turn the city into a sea of flames. Maria’s house and mother is in the city too, so I would like to capture the city quickly and load some of that powerful stuff[2. Nat: not specified. So your guess is as good as mine] if possible.
「Have them continue firing. It’s better if the mouth of the entrance is larger. Don’t hit our allies.」
「I will be careful.」
Leopolt swings his arm down and the sound of the third shot roars. It must have hit the watchtower as the Treian soldiers are jumping off while the tower crumbles, and makes snapping sounds.
「I’m going too.」
「Haa, again? Lord Hardlett, I want you just to sit back though.」
Don’t say that. There’s nothing more boring than to watch a festival as it happens from the back.
「Aegir-sama is heading out. Escort unit, follow him!」
Celia shouts and 30 heavy cavalry come along with me. Because she’s worried about me charging in by myself, she chose 30 people, from the cavalry of the private army of all people, to be my guards. I thought Leopolt wouldn’t allow for 30 of the important heavy cavalry to be designated exclusively to me, but he acknowledges that it would be better than having the commander die on him.
The soldiers and horses which make up the escort squad have good builds and they excel at fighting, and although only a few of them are equipped with spears and bowguns, they are some of the most powerful in the unit. By the way, Celia’s small stature really stands out when she’s amongst them.
Accurately speaking, the escort unit has 32 people, including Celia and one other person – Christoph. He was thrown out of his former unit since he didn’t prove useful, but after begging me in tears, he joined my squad, though he is the weakest. Celia told me that if there’s an opportunity, she would let him die in battle.
As we head towards the city, several soldiers appear from out from one of the large holes opened in the walls and stand in front of us. They have some courage to oppose us in this situation. I send one soldier’s spear flying, pierce him in the stomach and fling him away. Another one is thinking about taking some distance from me, but gets knocked back by Celia’s horse from the side.
「Don’t kill the residents! I won’t tolerate setting fire to the city either, kill only the soldiers!」
An armored soldier charges at me, but I lop his head off, knocking his torso to where the other soldiers are.
「In one blow……」
The small fry soldiers lose morale and abandon their spears to run away. That’s right, if you don’t resist me, this city won’t be destroyed.
With a fierce grunt, a knight fully equipped in armor rushes at me with his spear pointed at me. That reminds me, there’s a competition where this sort of thing happens. His spear looks thick and made just for thrusting and doesn’t look like there’s a sharp edge to it.
After the sound of clashing metal rings out, only the enemy knight’s horse runs off. The knight’s spear thrusts in my chest……to be precise, thrusts just before my chest, as it is being held by my hand. The enemy is holding the handle of his spear while struggling in midair with a face of disbelief.
I just grabbed the charging enemy’s spear and picked him up though[3. Nat: big deal right?]……. He didn’t let go of the handle so he didn’t fall.
I lower the spear to the ground to let him down, then the knight throws away his sword and kneels. I thought he was going to draw it and kill me; what a close call.
「He caught a charging spear with his hands?」
「He’s not an opponent we can win against!」
The knight pointing his spear behind me and his soldiers all abandon their weapons and run away. It looks like there is no one else to oppose us here.
The city’s outer perimeter is pretty much controlled, so the fighting shifts to the city area, the noble area and the feudal lord’s mansion. It’s not like Roleil has many troops to begin with and they aren’t heavily armed either, but they’re fighting stubbornly. Not burning the city when we attacked is a big factor contributing to that, but they’re still fighting well for a small group of soldiers.
「Release your arrows! 10 volleys!」
That final resistance, the unit protecting the feudal lord’s mansion, doesn’t have long before the 500 bow cavalry’s arrows – 10 shots each, totalling 5000 arrows – rain on them and annihilate their forces, virtually ending the battle in an instant.
「Seems like it.」
Celia stands beside me covered in blood. Due to her pleasure of being able to fight alongside me, she turned five people into a bloodbath. The escort unit was expectedly powerful and was able to flawlessly finish off over 100 enemies. ……No, only Christoph got scratched by a spear, fell off his horse and bumped his head and is now resting. He’s really such a useless guy. Although that’s interesting in its own right.
The escort unit dismounts from their horses and enters the feudal lord’s mansion with me, and we walk all the way to the reception hall in front of the soldiers, who have stopped resisting. When we reach the room, we come face to face with a fully armored noble.
He looks to be middle-aged and he isn’t wearing a helmet, but his entire body is covered with a thick armor. A beard decorates his face and his hair is neat, but he doesn’t appear to be that strong to me.
「Barodd Fayeltin, Count of the Treian Kingdom! State your name!!」
「Aegir Hardlett, Viscount of the Goldonian Kingdom. Are you the feudal lord?」
I thought I heard him say ‘Aegir?’ but it didn’t come from the noble in front of me.
「Very well! In honor of the house of Fayeltin, I request a one-on-one fight.」
With a clank, the Count points his sword at me. However, the tip of the sword is wavering and he doesn’t look comfortable moving in his armor. Clearly, he doesn’t know how to handle a sword and he isn’t used to wearing armor.
「Please wait, Count!! Hardlett……-dono has come to this town before, hasn’t he!? 」
A brawny man interrupts from the side. That hoarse voice and rough appearance is unforgettable. He’s Glock, the guard captain of Roleil, who rewarded me for the hungry wolf suppression and tried to recruit me.[4. Nat: wow, who remembers him?] Now that I think about it, it’s natural for him to be here. This is nostalgic and all but it’s not like I can catch up with him now.
「Thanks for taking care of me back then. I never imagined we would become adversaries.」
「……Your surname is from that time’s……I guess that’s fate.」
If we talk any further, it would be rude to the Count. I turn my attention back to him, but Glock walks in front of the Count.
「Count Fayeltin! This is also fate; let me be your representative in th-」
Unlike the high-pitched voice he was using previously, this powerful voice stuns Glock.
「This land is protected by my ancestors, it isn’t related to you, who’s just the guard captain. ……protect the residents, but your duty if I’m defeated, is to surrender.」
The Count readies his sword again. He has good intentions, but it doesn’t seem like this will be a contest at all. Maybe I’ll just knock him out.
「Lord Hardlett, no need to hold back. To a noble, their territory is their life, so know that if you don’t kill me, you won’t obtain this land!」
Fumu……if he has that much resolve, then it would be rude of me to hold back. He doesn’t have the skill to back it up, but I don’t dislike his determination.
「Christoph, lend me your sword.」
It would be unfair to use my spear or Dual Crater. At the very least, I’ll use the same weapon as him.
I hold the sword with only my right hand, while the Count readies his sword with both hands and sizes me up with his eyes.
The Count raises a shout and emits a spirited voice while charging at me and swinging his sword down. Those movements were really slow and made him really defenseless.
I easily parry his strike and destroy his balance, repelling his sword above his head. Then, I make a single strike sideways.
With a thump, the Count’s head falls and his torso collapses on the spot. I swing the sword to get rid of the blood before bringing the sword in front of my face and bowing slightly. Since he showed me his guts and how prepared he was for death, he deserves a bow from me at least.
At the same time, the surrounding soldiers and nobles, as well as Glock, throw their swords away, take off their helmets and kneel on the ground.
「It is our complete defeat.」
「Really unbelievable military prowess.」
「We deserve this submission.」
I ignore those three nobles who are incessantly mumbling something, then tell Glock to have all the soldiers in the town surrender and disarm themselves.
In only two hours and not much fighting, Roleil falls, and the Majino fortress loses its supply base.
–Third Party/ Treia POV–
Three days later, Majino Fortress, Central Fort
「The Goldonian army is concentrating their forces in the middle.」
「Don’t get flustered, have the sixth division return fire. Loose the arrows continuously and exhaust them.」
「The third division encampment is on fire!」
「Don’t worry. Calmly extinguish the flames and rebuild the roof after.」
Count Majino is taking command himself, since he has his own name attached to the fortress. The way he leads isn’t anything fancy nor does it involve much energetic shouting, but he gives accurate and appropriate orders in response to his men’s various reports. The calm demeanor and long-standing track record in defensive battles of the old veteran gives his men a great sense of security.
An army of a size hardly seen – over 80 000 of Goldonia’s central army and lords’ armies – are deployed on the central plains in front of them, but the old veteran shows no signs of panicking. Even with burning rocks and oil pots being hurled at him by over a hundred catapults and receiving a rain of tens of thousands of arrows, none of the fort’s functions whatsoever are destroyed.
「You have to be calm first; if something happens, take a second to think. This fortress will not waver so quickly.」
Unlike a field battle, the situation in a siege is not so fickle. Endurance and precise planning means everything.
With a roar, burning rocks destroy the roofs on top of the fort that were constructed to shield from arrows. But nobody panics from seeing the crumbling roofs.
Small holes in the floor on top of the fort have wooden stakes that support platforms that are used to raise the wooden roofs. Most arrows that reach the top of the fort have flown a long distance in a parabolic trajectory. As long as there is a covering, the soldiers can drastically lower the number of casualties in the shootout. It won’t be able to withstand an attack from a catapult or ballista, but if it breaks, it can be trashed and rebuilt. Considering the simple structure of the roof, which only requires hammering in, it just takes a few minutes before it get restored to its original state.
「Count Majino! Even with such a fierce attack these few days, the fort hasn’t even budged an inch!」
「On the contrary, the enemy has suffered many casualties in the span of those three times and retreated! Shouldn’t we go out and pursue them?」
The old veteran laughs cheerfully and shakes his head.
「Haha, that’s dangerous thinking. Things are going well now and you want even more; that’s what will ruin you.」
He calls him over to overlook the big picture through the window and talks to him kindly till the end.
「Time is our friend. The ones who need to take a risk is the enemy, not us. We just have to see through the ventures the enemy takes and crush them, then victory will be within our grasp.」
「Yessir, I apologize for saying too much.」
「It’s fine, you can’t be called a youngster otherwise. You can calm down once you get old.」
The Goldonian army gathers their forces in the center and strives to brute force their way through. However, most of the arrows from the offensive side gets stopped by the roofs and are unable to do any damage, while conversely, the arrows loosed by the soldiers in the fort are aimed downwards, bringing down Goldonian soldiers with relentless force. Sporadically, the catapults blow away the roof and soldiers all together, but even so, it doesn’t make much of a dent in the sturdy fort. The tall towering walls have several holes, in which bowguns are stuck out of the purposely created openings, take the lives of even more Goldonian soldiers.
Some soldiers manage to cling to the fort’s walls, but since the holes are too small to enter, they have no choice but to climb ladders. While doing so, they would have to bathe in an endless flood of arrows.
When a certain number of soldiers cling to the walls, the arrows stop and the windows for the bowguns close. The highest window is opened and tremendous amount of flaming oil is poured down, burning the ladder-climbing soldiers to death without leaving any trace of them behind.
「We fended off Goldonia’s fourth attack!」
「But the enemy cavalry is trying to bypass through the forest to the east.」
No matter how sturdy the fortress, there will always be a weak point. Goldonia’s cavalry will aim for the part where there is nothing but fences surrounding the bare fort, where no walls have been constructed due to terrain.
「I have placed a squad of spearmen there. No need to worry.」
The cavalry try to instantly pass through the opening in between the moats, but as soon as the lead horses reach the gap, the earth crumbles below their horses’ feet. The following horses stumble and get tangled with each other, causing chaos to occur.
In fact, there was no gap in the moats; a thin plank was placed over a hole and just dirt was piled on top. It wouldn’t be a problem for a few infantry, but for a large army or horses, they’d fall instantly into the bottomless pit. Spearmen appear from hidden locations one after the other and repel the confused cavalry, killing all the soldiers that have fallen in the hole. The infantry that followed right behind the cavalry receive a rain of arrows and end up retreating painfully.
「It’s not something to get flustered about. If you deal with it calmly, you will definitely be able to stop the enemy.」
The elder Count’s men were embarrassed and making warped faces, but quickly smile again.
「Anyways, has the messenger we sent to Roleil not come back yet?」
The old veteran’s sole concern is the issue of resupply. Arrows and oil should be coming everyday from Roleil, but they haven’t come since the day before yesterday. There is a warehouse for supplies within the fort so they aren’t in trouble in the short term, but it’s not something they can ignore for long either.
「Count Fayeltin hates me……that’s why I don’t want to talk about this.」
「It would be dumb if supplies stop because of hate towards the Count. Although it shouldn’t be that way……」
「This is a serious national problem, so I hope it’s nothing but a trivial mistake.」
With noisy clattering, the soldiers burst into the command room. Their state of panic contrasts greatly with the calm old veteran and his men.
「Give an accurate report calmly……」
The old veteran smiles gently to try and calm the soldiers, but the soldiers interrupt, even if they have to be rude.
「A portion of the enemy has bypassed the Erg Forest and attacked Roleil!! The town has fallen, and Count Fayeltin has died in battle!! I repeat, Roleil has fallen!! 」
The subordinates lose themselves for an instant, but just as their revered superior said, they calmed their hearts and turned to the old veteran.
「Count Majino……how should we respond?」
The old veteran’s eyes are wide open and is staring blankly with his jaw dropped. His eyes look disturbed and there is no trace of calmness as he reaches his trembling hand to the cup of tea on the table. That hand knocks over the cup and it shatters on the floor.
Aegir Hardlett. 21 years old. Late summer. Wartime.
Subordinate Units: 11 200
Infantry: 2700, Cavalry: 1500, Archers: 800, Combat Engineers: 200, Bow Cavalry: 6000
Subordinates: Leopolt (Chief of Staff and Deputy General Commander), Celia (Adjutant, Escort Captain), Irijina (Captain), Luna (Bow Cavalry Commander), Pipi (Mascot)
Current Location: Roleil
Accomplishments: Annihilation of Treia Eastern Defence Forces (surrender), Captured Roleil