Within the Togor Canyon, Morning
「They didn’t raid us at night.」
Celia murmurs next to me.
「Their strength lies in holding us within a narrow landscape with their elite soldiers. They might have an advantage with their small numbers when conducting a night raid, but that gives us the opportunity to sneak some of our squads out of the canyon while they’re kept busy.」
As Leopolt said, if they’re surrounded from the back and front, we just have to close in on them from all sides and press with our numbers. They would be finished, no matter how strong they are.
「We can’t detour nor can we set up a partial encirclement……」
「That’s probably why this place was chosen as the battlefield.」
There is only one way through, and that is to break past them from the front.
Ever since the late morning sun shone its rays into the canyon, the enemy camp has been making a lot of noise.
「Heeey, Hardlett! The sun has risen!! Are we going to resume the battle or what!?」
Gildress bangs his sword against his shield, making metallic crashing sounds while shouting loudly.
He seems to be having lots of fun.
「Can’t we burn them with cannons or flaming arrows?」
「Celia, it was mentioned yesterday. If we were up against Magrado and their familiar box formation, we would have a field day shooting them, but these guys can move swiftly depending on the situation…… if we aren’t careful and send out our defenseless siege weapons to the front, we would get wiped out.」
「Should we try the flaming arrows anyways?」
Leopolt gives a signal and then arrows tipped with fire are simultaneously loosed towards the enemy.
However, they only get blocked by their impenetrable shields, and the flames which were caused by the arrows that fell to the ground were easily stomped out during the interval between volleys.
They don’t only move together as a box, each individual is extremely quick.
「Hardlett! It’s already summer, so we don’t need more warmth, you know? Wahahahaha!」
「And that’s the result……」
Gildress, who is standing at the front of his army, brushes away several flaming arrows and guffaws.
Eeei, he pisses me off.
「There really is no other option than a frontal attack.」
「Yes, the best solution is to use our ballistae and cannons to disrupt them – even though they won’t have the highest accuracy – and then ram our forces against them head-on. When it gets to the point where you have no choice but to fight under these conditions, you really don’t have much room for strategic depth.」
So it’s a pretty bad situation with very few options available to us.
「There was never a chance for us to lose from the beginning, except we just need to worry about time. If we take too long, we would give the Atoroan army which escaped enough time to gather more forces, plus the nearby Poleis would start doubting why they opened a path for us when we’re struggling this much against a measly 100 people.」
「So we have to push past…… don’t they have a weakness or something?」
「It’s not like there’s nothing…… but they’re not attached to a main force. That’s perfect for a brilliant plan like a frontal attack.」
We just have to do it.
I brandish my spear.
「An all-out attack. We’ll get through by noon.」
We were thoroughly beaten up yesterday but the morale of the soldiers somehow managed to recover.
Let’s bring them down quickly.
Sounds of explosions roar as the cannons fire their rounds.
The ballistae launches their large bolts as well.
Not many of them can be setup because of the topography and they need to be angled in a way that they wouldn’t hit any allies from the back.
Furthermore, the enemy only has 100 people, so we can’t expect many of the projectiles to hit their target, however there is still a chance that an attack which they can’t fend off with their shields would lower morale, even if just a tiny bit.
At that moment, the infantry charged forward with a squad of spearmen as the vanguard.
From what I saw yesterday, the infantry won’t be able to win in a clash on even terms.
In addition, only 20 of them can fight at a time…… they’re certainly going to be overwhelmed like that.
That’s why this time, the spearmen are in front to disrupt the enemy lines.
Just before the tip of the spear reached the enemy, the very first line of enemies crouched low to the ground.
The spearheads pass the vanguards and collide with the shields of the enemy soldiers in the second row.
Immediately after, the crouching enemies swing their shields up to hit the spears from the bottom, causing the tips to point in the air.
Without any delay, the enemy closed the distance.
The spears are nothing but long sticks at this point.
The 20 men in front get cut down in an instant.
「Save the spearmen unit!」
The infantry unit hastily pushes forward, propping up their shields to meet the enemy.
「This is ugly……」
As soon as the infantry collided with the enemy, the ally soldiers were pushed back as if they were sliding on top of ice.
「Did we hit something?」
「Aah, that was even lighter than a tackle from my daughter so I don’t know.」
The Aless soldiers crack some jokes and laugh.
「Don’t falter! Continue charging! 4th and 6th units stand down, 7th unit step forward.」
The severely beaten squads were pulled out and another squad was sent out in front to rush the enemy.
That new squad quickly gets defeated and retreats, although another squad quickly fills the hole.
The enemy is strong, creating piles of corpses from only the soldiers on our side.
However, there are times on the battlefield where flukes happen, and even veteran soldiers can be defeated after 10 attacks, no matter how shoddy those attacks were.
「Guo…… my King…… I’ll be heading there first!」
「Uugh…… Fufu, we were talking about a hundred each but I still only have ten defeated. The God of War in that realm would scold me!」
One enemy soldier collapses, and then another one falls over.
Once they were held back, even if only for a short time, the archers immediately rained arrows on them, turning the soldiers who couldn’t defend themselves into porcupines.
The enemy, who was as solid as a boulder and couldn’t be budged before, finally took steps backward.
「Space has been created from the enemy’s retreat. We can push forward all at once.」
The enemy stepped back…… meaning they moved further up the hill.
And that means our allies can chase forward after them.
A ballistae can be setup in that gap which was left.
It’s taking all the enemy’s efforts to hold off our all-out attack so they shouldn’t have time to spare to rush in and destroy our bows.
The barrage wasn’t something launched from the back just for intimidation purposes.
The ballistae were aimed carefully to take out the upper bodies of the large buff men, along with their shields, and open a hole in their formation.
「Now, finish them off quickly!」
Seeing an opening in the enemy lines, our ally infantry charged in vigorously with ferocious war cries.
As it was before, only our allies who were getting defeated, but now it wasn’t as brutal as before.
The enemy appeared just a little bit fatigued and their movements dulled, letting our infantry make their way into the center of their battle ranks.
「It’s about time we settle this.」
Celia has also regained her composure.
I feel somewhat torn right now. It’s true Gildress pissed me off, but I don’t hate men like him.
Crushing an enemy who challenged me with his military prowess…… it might seem like a natural way to deal with someone like that, but I still have some lingering feelings in my heart.
Just like Irijina said, the outcome of battle has been decided.
And for the cleanup afterwards…….
「Not yet! Something like this won’t end us warriors of Aless!」
His crimson cloak flutters.
Then, close to 10 ally soldiers cry out and get flung backwards.
The muscular man stands boldly in front of his army which was getting torn apart, unafraid getting shot by arrows.
「What’s wrong, did you guys drop your balls somewhere? Are the men from Aless really that weak!?」
It goes without saying who that loud booming voice belongs to. Gildress yells while slashing at our soldiers.
He grabs the head of a spear and tosses the soldier aside, then slashes the shoulders of all soldiers who chose to clash with him, breaking their swords while he was at it too.
A front kick sends a soldier tumbling, causing that soldier’s head to snap and dangle against his own chest, as Gildress raises his blood-stained sword before howling like a beast.
「The Light of Aless…… it was said that the God of War gifted it to the first King.」
「The God of War is watching over us. I can’t die an unsightly death.」
I guess “The Light of Aless” is the name of the sword Gildress is holding.
There is a faint blue glow radiating from his sword – impossible for a weapon made of steel – which reminds me of my Dual Crater’s divine appearance.
「Advance, you warriors! Our only path lies before us!」
The numerically inferior enemies rallied and repelled our ally soldiers as they advanced forward.
Their numbers have decreased to almost half but one could not sense any fatigue in their charge as they ran down the hill, their terrifying momentum reminiscent of a rockslide.
「H-hey, this is dangerous!」
「B-block them…… there’s no way I can do that!」
The enemy no longer had any intention – or need for that matter – to get into any special formation.
All of the remaining enemy soldiers swung the swords and shields in their hands and dashed forward at full speed, cutting down or knocking away any enemy in their path.
At that moment, a large bolt flew in a straight line directly at Gildress who was leading the charge, almost as if to save the collapsing allies.
Irijina exclaimed in reaction.
「No need to worry!」
Gildress roared and leapt, straight towards the large bolt.
「I won’t be defeated by a toy like this!」
He twists his body in midair and slams the butt of his sword against the speeding bolt.
Unable to withstand the blow, the oversized arrow snapped in half and the pieces fell to the bottom of the cliff.
That sight left both ally and enemy speechless.
Gildress sucked in a deep breath.
「This is Alessssss!!!」
All the enemy soldiers roared in response to the King’s yell.
「C-can we win against something like that!?」「F-fall back and retreat!」
The men of Aless propelled themselves forward with their voices, as our allies slowly fell into a state of disorder, withdrawing almost in a state of panic.
The ballistae were abandoned…… since it was something which required several people to look after it, but the enemy soldiers easily picked it up with one hand and tossed it over the edge of the cliff.
……Those things were pretty expensive.
「The vanguard has collapsed! I can’t keep them under control!」
「We can’t continue the offensive if we retreat here.」
Myla and Leopolt look at me.
There’s only one thing left to do, use the strongest force available to drive them back.
「Escort unit, follow me. We won’t let them do as they please anymore.」
The strongest force in my army are the hand-picked heavy cavalry in the escort unit.
There is no real merit in mounting a horse and riding through all the current chaos, so everyone is on foot, but their equipment and skill are both several levels higher than regular infantry.
「Oooh! Something new has come out!」
「Let’s fight them, let’s fight!」
I lead my escort unit to the collapsing front lines and when we push through, the enemy stops their pursuit and faces us with beaming smiles.
These men, bulkier than the typical infantry, charge with their heavier and better equipment. Perhaps judging it to be a bad idea to collide head-on with the skirmishers, the enemy fall back slightly to form a horizontal formation with their shields pushed out.
Loud metallic clashes resounded as both sides slammed into each other and then…… the escort unit was pushed back.
「Wahaha! That’s better than my daughter, but not better than my wife!」
「If you’d like, I can drill your ass just like I do with my wife!」
「Can you still boast after this?」
I swing my spear with all my might at the enemy, using all the pent-up frustration from yesterday and today as an additional boost in power.
The soldier who blocked my strike with his shield flew sideways and fell off the side of the cliff.
Even so, the enemy does not waver.
The next soldier comes at me with his sword without a moment’s delay.
「It really feels good to fight in person!」
I parry the man’s sword attack and meet the man’s shield with a front kick.
Most men would be sent flying after that, but this man only loses balance slightly before quickly readying his sword again.
「This much is nothing!」
When I block his sword with the handle of my spear, the man swings his shield at me almost as if he threw it, and then slashes at my thigh.
Those aren’t the movements of a mere soldier. All of them have the strength to be called heroes in other nations.
「Then how about this!?」
I evade his sword by a hair’s breadth and swing my spear down towards his head.
The man brings his shield up to block, but is unable to do so completely and falls to his knees.
「The finishing blow!」
I thrust my spear at the neck which finally comes into my line of sight, and after a splashing of blood, the man collapses on the spot with an extra hole in his body.
I don’t have time to take a breather.
I avoid the next man’s sword and punch him in the face, yet he still doesn’t stop attacking even after blood drips down from his nose.
After the third clash, his left leg finally gets blown off, but the man doesn’t let go of his sword.
「A man of Aless won’t be defeated until his heart stops!」
「Eeei, how irritating!」
I pierce the man’s abdomen with my spear, pick him up and toss him over the cliff.
That finally makes it the third man defeated.
I realize that I am isolated in the center of the enemy.
Because the enemy is so resilient, none of the other soldiers had advanced, and even the escort unit was made to retreat.
I guess I’ll just whip my spear around as hard as I can and send some enemies flying.
The enemies around me quickly push their shields forward and get into a defensive stance, so the four soldiers I sent flying were all unharmed and came running at me with their swords soon after.
「Aegir-sama! This guy-!」
Celia is being pushed around but somehow putting up a fight, although she can’t manage to find time to rush to my side.
She skillfully finds an opening to stab the enemy soldier in the side of his body, but he doesn’t fall down.
「A weak attack like that won’t penetrate my muscles!」
Celia dodges the downward swing from the man’s sword, then hops backward and throws a few knives at the man in succession.
The enemy deflects the knives aimed at his vitals, and even though a few knives stabbed the man’s shoulder and stomach, they weren’t deep enough to stop him from moving.
To deliver the final blow, Irijina rushes in from the side and lops the man’s head off, and the enemy soldier finally collapses.
Celia is panting and has stopped moving.
It doesn’t look like she can go any further forward, should I fall back too?
And then, five soldiers came rushing at me from the front with their shields held up.
They must want to destroy our battle ranks, I respond by swinging my spear powerfully.
My spear slams into the wall of shields, sending the five soldiers and their shields flying, while I also get pushed back.
Right when the enemy soldiers were about to get ready to charge again, a crimson cape came into view.
「Hardlett…… you fight brilliant against the warriors of Aless! But don’t you think the best should go up against the best?」
「That would certainly settle things quicker, this battle is pretty much over anyways.」
「What did you say?」
I jerk my chin towards his back.
As the melee continued between ally and enemy, a battle cry could be heard coming from the rear.
The enemy soldiers hastily turn around to look behind them and see my flag planted near the exit of the canyon…… the pitch black cloth fluttering in the wind.
「……you detoured around the cliff.」
The cliff might have been steep, but there was still enough room for a small group of soldiers to cross.
Seeing how the frontal attack wasn’t going anywhere, Leopolt used the information he surveyed yesterday to determine which parts of the cliff can be climbed and descended.
Of course, only an extremely small number of people with superior athletic ability were chosen to be in the group, but it didn’t matter how many people crossed as long as there was a group behind them. The battle was over as soon as they succeeded in doing so.
If the enemy turned around to rout the smaller group, they would eat the full brunt of our frontal assault, whereas if they left that group alone, arrows which they cannot defend against would rain down on them from behind.
Gildress most likely understood his own fate as he faced me and laughed.
「Fuhaha, it looks like I’ll finally get to pay my respects to God. However, you’re quite the interesting fellow, the general himself is challenging me despite being aware of his superior position. Surely, you are loved by the God of war.」
「If I’m going to be loved, I’d rather it be a voluptuous Goddess.」
「You’re still green, Hardlett. I’m good with anyone as long as they’re female.」
Gildress and I face off against each other with our weapons.
The large battle royale which was still happening between ally and enemy halted, and a circle began to form around the two of us.
「The King is entering one-on-one combat!」
「This man must be mad, there is no way he can win against an incarnation of military prowess like Gildress.」
「What are you talking about, nobody can put up a fight against the feudal lord-sama.」
「The War Demon Hardlett would crush any enemy in battle, even if it happened to be a dragon!」
They’re saying whatever they please, though I know Gildress is terrifyingly strong.
I entrust my spear to Celia who is standing behind me.
It would be impossible to fight this guy at close range with a spear.
When I unsheathe my Dual Crater, Gildress widens his eyes in surprise.
「Hooh…… how beautiful. So yours is white.」
The white glow emanating from my Dual Crater must appear more beautiful from an outsider’s perspective compared to the pale blue of his Light of Aless.
This sword will soon be stained with both of our blood though.
「Come at me anytime.」
I was the first one to move as I kick the ground hard and charge at him.
Gildress similarly does the same not even a split second later and the two treasured swords clash when the two of us reach the middle ground of our battlefield.
There was a high-pitched metallic sound and sparks fly from the collision of the two weapons.
My sword was pushed back from the impact.
It almost flew out of my hand, so this guy has quite the monstrous strength.
He was also repelled by the impact but it looked like he moved a shorter distance than I did.
「It didn’t break eh? That’s a nice sword.」
「As is yours.」
I put all my strength into my Dual Crater and his sword isn’t even chipped.
As I thought, that sword isn’t any ordinary sword.
In other words, just a slight touch from it would send arms flying.
Standing still, the two of us face off in an intense duel of swords.
A downward strike was parried to the side, a thrust was sidestepped, and then the counter thrust was evaded with a twist of the body.
The soldiers watching on the perimeter didn’t do any heckling. Both ally and enemy stood side-by-side and watched the fight unfold before their eyes.
Gildress freezes for a second when he steps on a small rock.
I don’t miss that chance to slash at his shoulder, but he intercepts with this shield.
Naturally, something like a shield would be cut through like butter if it blocked my Dual Crater directly.
However, he angled his shield to make my sword glance off to the side, then bashes my face with his shield.
「Fuhaha, shields aren’t bad weapons. Blocking isn’t the only thing they’re good for.」
I wipe the blood dripping from my nose and smile.
「That woke me up just now.」
I face Gildress and take a big swing at him with my sword.
He evades my attack, then bends down to slice my body in half with a horizontal slash.
I wrench my body to the side and avoid the slash, then I spin around once before taking a swing at his neck.
He instinctively reacts by bringing his shield up to block, however he isn’t able to deflect my attack this time.
With a sharp clang, the thick metal shield is bisected and both sections fall to the ground.
「No, I don’t think a shield is necessary.」
Gildress lets the sliced shield fall out of his hand and wields his sword with both hands.
「Come, Hardlett! The God of War is bearing witness, to this battle between us men of valor!」
The two of us cross swords at speeds that the human eye could not follow, taking turns blocking each other’s strikes, deflecting them, and then returning counter attacks.
Not only is each attack good enough to be fatal if it landed, if not enough power was put into each blow, the impact would be strong enough to send either sword flying.
Every one of our clashes would cause the atmosphere to tremble, the sparks caused by the grinding of our blades would scatter and the harsh ringing of metal echoed off the cliffs.
And when I lost count of how many times our blades crossed, the side of my sword, which I thrust at Gildress, was deflected with his hand and then a slash was returned at me, prompting me to jump back on reaction. His blade must have grazed me as the armor around my chest was sliced open and fell to the ground.
That was close…… just one more step forward and it would have cut my body.
I lost the upper portion of my armor and left pretty much half-naked, although there really is no point to wearing armor against a sword like that.
「It’s my turn next!」
Perhaps it’s because I got lighter after my armor got removed, I was able to parry Gildress’s sword and give him a slash on the arm in the next exchange of slashes.
The cut was a shallow one, but it still felt good to draw first blood.
「Nuu…… so it really was heavy!」
Gildress removes his red cloak and even strips the small amount of armor he was wearing, leaving just his leather pants on.
He originally only had a small piece of armor protecting his vital areas so now that he’s taken it off, he’s mostly naked.
「Umu, now I can move easier!」
With a muscular build like his, his armor probably wasn’t heavy enough that he could feel it, although he is visibly faster with it taken off.
His downward strike would crush me if I just blocked it, so I respond with an upward swing to meet his blade, and then answer his horizontal swing with a sideways slash of my own.
Our strength is equal…… no, if I’m not careful, he’ll overpower me slightly.
However, now that I’ve exchanged so many blows with him, I can predict how he will attack.
I’ll decide the fight here and now.
I dodge his horizontal slash and escape to his flank.
I slash his side while running right by him – a clean strike.
「Tch, too shallow!?」
I thought I completely gouged out the side of his body, but the cut wasn’t deep enough.
Gildress’s inhuman speed and developed muscle mass prevented the attack from reaching his organs.
「The King is on his knees!」
Even so, his blood was spilled and he was made to fall on one knee, which was apparently shocking to the enemy troops.
There is a clear feeling of unrest in their faces.
「……I’ll allow you to surrender.」
「You think I would?」
No, I didn’t think so.
Gildress takes a couple steps away from me and holds out his hand to indicate that he wants me to wait.
「Still too heavy! I’ll take this off!」
He said he’ll take it off, but he’s not wearing his cloak or armor anymore.
He’s got nothing except his leather pants, which is acting as his underwear.
「Don’t tell me!」
「This kind of thing is not needed in a battle between men!」
Gildress unbelievably grabs his pants.
The cute screams are from Celia and Myla.
「W-wait! Don’t be too hasty! I’ll wait, so don’t take that off!」
It won’t be a fight if that thing exposes itself, what does he intend to do if there was an awkward bounce and it slaps against my flesh or something.
「You think? Well, we should be settling this battle soon.」
After checking on his bleeding wound, Gildress raises his sword up high, something which he didn’t do until now.
He’s full of openings, but he probably wants to finish things in one attack.
「Yeah, I’ll hurry up and cut you down, then I can go have some fun with the girls.」
In response, I raise my own sword above my head.
Both of us approach each other slowly, and then take one final huge swing at each other.
After a loud crashing sound, Gildress’s sword was knocked out of his hands and onto the ground.
As I raise my sword again to deliver the final blow…… I feel a fierce strike hitting my jaw.
I lose grip on my Dual Crater and it slips out of my hands.
「It can’t be called a fight if we only use swords!」
Before I realized what hit me, Gildress sends a flurry of punches at my face.
Each punch was heavy and powerful enough to knock out an average man on its own.
I could hear Celia scream.
There’s no way I can let myself be beaten here.
As Gildress winds up for another punch, I pounce into his chest, and headbutt him in the face.
I follow up with consecutive punches to the staggering Gildress’s abdomen.
Just when I thought he was about to fall over, I receive a hook to the cheek.
I wrap my arms around his neck to try and break it, however I was the one who got thrown down to the ground.
I catch the kick aimed at my head, drag him down and punch his face in.
The one-on-one battle between generals has devolved into something ugly, like a street brawl in the city.
The both of us have trails of blood running down our noses, but we gather the last of our strength and charge at each other.
His fist connects with my face and I can feel the world around me spinning out of control.
I could feel my fist slam against his jaw though.
「Ah, a simultaneous knockout!?」
「My King, please stand up!」
「Faster than the opponent!」
I got knocked pretty hard, yet I still try to stand up, however my legs don’t listen to me at all.
From the corner of my eye, I see Gildress also attempting to get up and failing. After confirming that he fell flat on his stomach, I close my eyes.
「Help the King! We can’t let him fall into the enemy’s hands!」
「Save the feudal lord-sama! Exterminate the enemy!」
「Aegir-sama, grab onto me!」
I can hear Celia’s voice through the pitch black darkness.
Aah, this small body carried me in a similar fashion in the past too.
Sorry, I’ll need to entrust myself to you again.
I don’t think I can stand.
「All troops, give chase! Wipe out the enemy!」
「The situation has changed! We can’t let the King die when he’s unconscious like this. Open up a path and escape!」
Looks like the battle is still ongoing.
I can hear Leopolt’s voice.
「Everyone, become a wall! Just breakthrough the enemy at the back! Getting defeated by 10 or 20 arrows is shameful as a man!」
「Annihilate the enemy! Take out the enemy King!」
「I gotta let Aegir-sama lay down! And someone fetch me some water quickly!」
Celia…… your body has gotten much softer.
I completely pass out after that final thought.
189Protagonist: Aegir Hardlett. 23 years old. Summer.
Status: Goldonia Kingdom Margrave. Great Feudal Lord of Eastern Area. King of the Mountains. Friend of the Dwarves.
Citizens: 160,000. Major Cities – Rafen: 23,000. Lintbloom: 4000.
Private Army: 11,000 men ( -1100)
Infantry: 5500, Cavalry: 800, Archers: 750, Bow Cavalry: 3950
Assets: 300 gold
Sexual Partners: 202, children who have been born: 46