DUNGEON DEFENSE - DUNGEON DEFENSE Volume 2 - Chapter 3 – Inhumane Anthem (Part 2)
Empire Calendar: Year 1505, Month 9, Day 17
Dantalian’s Demon Lord Castle vicinity
“Adjutant. Are there no more reports from the reconnaissance team?”
“There are none. Our front is completely clear, general.”
My adjutant responded with a delighted face.
It wasn’t only my adjutant. The soldiers around me were all cheerful as well. Soon after, our forces safely arrived at Dantalian’s Demon Lord Castle.
Initially, we were constantly cautious of our surroundings.
It was because after the hilly area, a vast forest was spread before us.
Contrary to hills, ambushes were more than possible within a forest. You could not eliminate the chances of an enemy ambush. To send out a small unit on purpose to be defeated, and then to aim an ambush at us while we were being careless…… In simpler terms, a standard deception tactic. Even if this was a thousand to one chance, I was not going to overlook the possibility of an ambush.
“Indeed, it seems the entirety of Dantalian’s military forces was wiped out yesterday.”
“Yes. Although I was doubtful at first, it appears it was a pointless worry.”
After passing through the forest, a fairly massive rocky mountain laid in front of us.
Within sight was a barren mountain containing nothing but stone. Vegetation was unable to grow on Demon Lord Castles mainly due to the excessively powerful magical energy that emitted from them. It was certain that the mountain before us was Dantalian’s Demon Lord Castle.
“Our scouts found the entrance to the cave.”
“Mm, proceed with the plan.”
As we had previously arranged, a detached force entered the cave. It was a procedure to confirm whether if there were truly black herbs piled up inside the castle.
It was fine if there were actually no herbs. This was nothing more than action taken to show to my people that we weren’t standing by idly. If there were herbs then it was good fortune, if there weren’t then it wasn’t a big deal. It was at that level.
3 hours later, the detached troops ended their search and returned. My adjutant gave me the report with an excited voice.
“General, they say that they’ve discovered 6 wagons worth of black herbs!”
It was a surprising result.
In utter disbelief, I stood up and walked forward, and sure enough, the detached troops were transporting the black herbs while rejoicing. Seeing the detached troops, all 1,500 of my soldiers cheered. It felt like it had become a festival.
Currently, black herbs were being sold for over 10 gold a piece in the empire. It was at least 10 gold! Depending on the region and market price, the asking price would even go up to 20 gold. Before I knew it, my mouth was hanging agape.
“Dear Lord. God Hades……”
How much would 6 wagons worth of herbs cost? In total, there were probably around 7,000 plants. 70,000 gold…… The budget processed by the imperial family of the empire in a single year was about 500,000 gold. Thus meaning, I had obtained in my hand 1/7 of the national budget required to manage the entire empire annually!
“It is the greatest of success, your lordship!”
My adjutant shouted fervently.
“Now the territory of Rosenberg will survive. No, it isn’t on the level of just living! The people will venerate your lordship as a saint blessed by the Goddesses!”
“That is so. We can save all of my citizens who are suffering from this mysterious disease……”
My chest swelled with delight.
How many of my subjects were in pain. How many people sent their prayers up to the Goddesses, and how many times did the Goddesses cruelly return to them silence.
Two of my grandchildren died from this illness. One of them was a child who was only 6-years-old……
My chest throbbed at the memory of my grandchild’s blackened corpse. At that time, my daughter had held her child’s body while wailing in pain. A little bit more, if I had invaded this place a little sooner, then my daughter wouldn’t have had to lose her child……
“Your lordship, what do you mean by saving all of the citizens?”
My adjutant questioned.
“Surely we should sell them at the proper price. Merely releasing this supply to the market would be enough to receive great praise from all of your subjects.”
“No. We shall provide the herb for all of those who are ill for free.”
I declared this after letting my emotions calm down.
Starting from my adjutant, all of my company commanders as well looked at me with shocked expressions on their faces.
“Good fortune has fallen upon myself twice during this expedition. The first was my territory being fortunately adjacent to Dantalian’s Demon Lord Castle. The second was that we were able to divide and conquer the enemy troops before they were able to join forces.”
The fact that we were able to obtain the spoils of war today was solely because the Goddess had allowed us to. You should not forget that.
“If the Goddess has bestowed upon me fortune, then my role is to bestow that fortune down onto my subjects. The glory from God must be glory for all. Is that not right, gentlemen?”
My adjutant and company commanders glanced at one another.
Moments later, my adjutant earnestly lowered one knee and knelt down before me.
“This one has pledged allegiance to your lordship.”
The company commanders lowered their heads one by one. This wasn’t simply a body gesture done by soldiers to show politeness to their sovereign. Unrelated to a contractual relationship, this was a sign of respect between warriors. I personally raised each and every one of them to stand properly.
“Tell this to the rest of our soldiers. That every single military personnel here will equally be distributed a herb, and that once we return to our land, I shall treat everyone to pork and beer.”
If a noble such as myself were to receive respect, then in return, I had to gift them not with words, but with commodities. Anyone could show gratitude with words.
Words that drifted in empty space were like a rampart built out of air. The slightest wind could topple it down. Loyalty came from money. There was no reason to be ashamed to admit this.
“Then we shall move the powder kegs, your lordship.”
“Mm. Do that.”
“Yes. Transport the barrels!”
The soldiers carefully carried the powder kegs from the cart.
Since there was the danger of these exploding while being mishandled, 4 mages stuck to them and kept a close eye. It was obvious. If an accidental explosion were to occur, we would all be dead. Even the smallest amount of negligence was not allowed.
The mages had spent this entire expedition safeguarding the powder kegs. They could have been utilized as Aerial Mage Forces, but thankfully there wasn’t a battle fierce enough that required for them to be sent out.
(TL note: I made a mistake in the translation. “Aerial Demon Forces” was actually just “Aerial Mage Forces”. Demon and Magic uses the same letter of 마)
Mages. In other words, Aerial Mage Forces, were an incredibly valuable military strength. Only they could dominate the skies. It was fortunate that we didn’t lose even a single mage in this expedition. Truly. There were many luxuries that could be considered as fortunate……
“Your lordship, we have placed all the powder kegs within the cave.”
“Good. Detonate them carefully. Make sure to place your own safety at the highest priority.”
“Yes! Detonate the explosives!”
The mages aimed at the cave entrance and shot a fire elemental spell in sync. The maximum range of magic spells was 50 meters. The fireballs flew a reasonable distance away and exploded within the cave.
The loud sound of a blast reverberated and shook the rocky mountain.
Gunpowder made from charcoal and potassium nitrate. And along with those, the barrel contained lumps of metal and stone as well. Although it was troubling to use in an actual battle, it was useful in bringing down enemy strongholds like this.
Dantalian’s Demon Lord Castle came down before my eyes. Albeit, it was impossible to bring down an entire mountain, so merely the cave entrance had collapsed. I was still satisfied with just that.
My adjutant let out a moved voice while watching the spectacle of the foot of a mountain collapsing.
It was indeed so. It was an expedition that was perfect from beginning to end.
Now it should be impossible for Demon Lord Dantalian to make a comeback. Not only did he lose all of his troops, but he had lost his stronghold as well. The margrave of Rosenberg’s security measures were thus completed.
There was no pitying emotion within me. This was the law of the jungle. It was obvious that humans would be hostile towards demons. Obediently accept your defeat, oh weak Demon Lord.
“All troops! Let us return home!”
The buglers, in the excess of mirth, blew the horns powerfully.
Receiving the refreshing midday sunlight, my soldiers moved with gusto. Since the wind was also blowing coolly, it was perfect.
Was that it. Was it already autumn……
The leaves turned red and the farmers stepped out onto the fields. It was the season where all beings harvested their own lives.
Indeed, my life advancing through battlefields and arenas for more than 50 years was the same.
I wished to fall in a battlefield.
I wished to be laid to rest with the other warriors.
‘Thank you, Your Grace. Oh Great Gods. To allow this unworthy man the opportunity to leave something behind for his people within his lifetime. I could only be grateful.’
I gave a prayer to the gods within my mind.
If perhaps, after giving my people the cure, after saving my land, was I then allowed to slowly close my eyes. If that was my fate, then that too was not bad. Indeed, it was not bad.
It would be leaving behind hope for the new age and the new generation.
Was it not a remarkable final role given to an old man?
“General! The reconnaissance team has returned urgently!”
As I was contemplating how I would split the inheritance to my sons and daughter, my adjutant gave a report. His voice was rather high. For some reason, a perplexed complexion had taken over his face. The reconnaissance team? There shouldn’t be anything worth reporting urgently at this point.
“What is it?”
“Enemy forces have appeared! Enemy troops have been spotted up ahead!”
At my adjutant’s cry, the surrounding air became cold. I could sense that the soldiers around us were surprised and staring at the adjutant.
I too was shocked, but I had deliberately maintained a calm face. If the commander shook with anxiety, then that anxiety would instantly spread to all of the troops. In other words, it was a disease more terrifying than the Black Death.
Mm. It seems a change of ambience was required here.
“Be calm! Have you already forgotten? Our war does not end until we return home. As long as the battle is not over, the enemy can appear from anywhere! This is obvious. What reason is there to start a commotion!?”
Once my adjutant lowered his head, the troops that were about to be unsettled quickly held their breath. My adjutant had received the scolding in the other soldiers’ stead. This as well, was an adjutant’s crucial role.
“Give the report in more details. Tell me where the enemy forces are located and their approximate military strength.”
“Yes, general. The enemy forces are stationed on the hill area, which our troops had passed through yesterday. Their numbers reach approximately 3,000!”
I was barely able to restrain myself from opening my eyes wide.
The feeling of blood being drained out of my body engulfed me. The reason why I was able to maintain my composure was solely because I had spent my entire life in battlefields and arenas. If I did not have these experiences, then I would have most likely screamed in an unseemly manner.
“Did you say 3,000 just now?”
However, I was unable to completely control the urgency in my voice. The mood was bad. I could feel the dismay of the soldiers around me. I could even see the pale face of a company commander……
“Yes. The reconnaissance team had clearly reported that it was 3,000.”
There was always the chance that the report was wrong.
I had gone through something like this in the past. After finding out the fact that the enemy force, who we were brutally fighting throughout the whole night, had a military strength 3 times smaller than our own, all tension in my chest had disappeared. A human’s five senses were not always accurate. It was still too soon to fall into panic.
“Mm. That’s rather hard to believe. For now, I shall give an order to all of the troops.”
I made sure to earnestly feign a composed attitude. These soldiers had no other choice but to live their life looking up to me. Without an order, they would be anxious. Meaning, it was possible to erase anxiety with a command.
“We shall get out of these woods as fast as possible. All military personnel, advance while bearing in mind the chance of battle.”
“Yes, general! All soldiers! Advance at maximum speed! Advance forward at maximum speed—!”
Our forces quickly passed through the forest. Two hours later, our troops arrived at the hill region and witnessed a sight that was utterly unbelievable. On the other side of the hill, there truly were ranks of around 3,000 enemy soldiers sternly awaiting for our arrival.
My adjutant looked at me with a face as pale as marble. Our side’s military strength was approximately 1,400. Compared to the other side, we were smaller by 2 times. Which side would win was obvious. It was clear for the company commanders, and it was evident for the soldiers as well……
Pull yourself together, Georg. Being able to feign ignorance even in this sort of situation is what a commander is. They must act as if they do not know the truth which everyone else clearly knows. Of course, it was a distressful role. But that was the only way I could take responsibility.
“Adjutant. Why do you think the enemy forces have appeared there?”
“If they had the military strength of 3,000 soldiers, then it would only be appropriate for them to have appeared sooner. They had plenty of opportunities to wipe us out. However, the enemy troops arrived after we had pillaged and destroyed their stronghold. No matter how you look at it, that is an abnormal usage of troops.”
“That…… is true, general.”
“All forces heed my words!”
I shouted while straining my neck.
All of the soldiers turned to look at me at once. This moment was important. This was the only opportunity I had to prevent their fighting spirit from collapsing. Let’s bet the winning move on this.
“Those enemy soldiers before us have just now arrived on this battlefield! They desired to block us, but we were a step ahead. We had succeeded in bringing down their stronghold!”
It didn’t matter if this was true or not. To instill vigor into my soldiers, that was my only goal……
“Rather, return to them loud laughter instead. We have succeeded and they have failed. And above all, we have had sufficient rest so our stamina is firm. But since they have only now arrived on this battlefield, they are still tired! If we attack now then victory will be within our grasp!”
The soldiers stirred for a moment before eventually, their expressions started to become firm one person at a time. Good. Their fighting spirit was returning to their eyes. Let us go, my northern soldiers. The people await our return!
“Kick those stubby dwarf bastards on their rears! Beat their buttocks and abuse them! According to rumors, it’s said that dwarves squeal like pigs when mating. Should us humans not kindly teach those livestock what true men are!?”
The soldiers responded with a roar. Instead of some high-sounding justifications, it was more effective at times to plainly hurl abuses at the enemy. We will not be pushed back in a fight of vigor.
“Blow the horns of Folles!”
The sound of horns echoed through the vast hills. It was the noise that symbolized the outbreak of war since 700 years ago. That was so. The people of our land had won through 700 long years of history and were now here. We will not be defeated easily.
“All cavalry, charge!”
▯Weakest Demon Lord, Rank 71st, Dantalian
Empire Calendar: Year 1505, Month 9, Day 17
Dantalian’s Demon Lord Castle vicinity
5 minutes had passed since the start of the battle.
Although temporary, the current situation of the battle was neck and neck. The spirit of the enemy soldiers was rather impressive. However, there was something else that was a bit more impressive. It was Laura De Farnese’s current condition.
“Miss Farnese, are you okay?”
“I’m fine. There’s no problem with this young lady.”
“But you’re sweating quite a lot……”
Laura De Farnese has been sweating a tremendous amount since a while ago. I was worried that she was nervous, but thankfully that wasn’t the case. It was a type of head heat. According to her, ‘This always happens when this young lady strains her brain.’, is what she told me.
“The morale in their cavalry regiment seems to be relatively high.”
“A foolish choice. It would have been better if they had attempted to flee the moment they discovered our troops. Although they would suffer losses during the chase, at least 30 percent of them would have made it back alive.”
Miss Farnese grinned.
Her smile was still awkward. The edges of her mouth were stiff and her lips were twitching. And yet, somehow it felt like that smile expressed Laura De Farnese more appropriately. At the very least, it was to my liking.
“But the enemy did not choose to run. As if it was the most obvious thing to do, they engaged in battle. Do you know the reason behind this, lord?”
“Probably because of the black herb.”
“That is correct. If they are able to return with the black herb, then they’ll be able to save their land. It would even be possible to receive praise from the people. The enemy forces are so ensnared in this delusion that they are unable to abandon their wagons.”
When before a tempting bait, a fish could by all means run away at any time, but they latched onto it anyway.
Was this not quite the splendid ability?
Miss Farnese had used the fantasy known as the black herbs as a way to pressure the enemy into combat. The enemy forces most likely did not even realize that they were fooled. They had literally become dim-witted fishes. Our trick had gone over big with them.
“Now then. Miss Farnese. Although up to here is remarkable, the enemy forces’ morale can not be trifled with. How do you plan to deal with this situation?”
“Simple. The reason their morale is high is because they are on the offensive. But this young lady is rather egocentric. This young lady cannot allow them to have the exhilarating role for long while on stage.”
Miss Farnese gripped the clay doll in her hand.
“—I shall slowly pressure them into a distressful role.”
▯The Northern Guardian, Margrave of Rosenberg, Georg von Rosenberg
Empire Calendar: Year 1505, Month 9, Day 17
Dantalian’s Demon Lord Castle vicinity
“General! The enemy cavalry are going around!”
I gazed at the other wing of the battlefield. My adjutant was right. A unit of the enemy cavalry was going a roundabout way around the hill and approaching us. I made a bitter face.
“Another foolish tactic…… If they had more cavalry in their reserve forces, then it would only be appropriate to have made them participate in the battle immediately. Why would they order something like a flank assault?”
There was no doubt that the enemy commander was a beginner in tactics.
Currently, a fierce battle between our and the enemy’s mounted troops was taking place. Our fighting powers were considerably balanced.
If the enemy were to utilize their reserve forces in this situation, then ten to one we would lose. Our mounted troops would be annihilated, followed by our infantry. Our forces would be utterly defeated. Despite that, their commander had foolishly chosen to use their reserve troops like a detached force.
“Mmm. Does their commander not have an eye for seeing the flow of battle……?”
In my position, I could only be grateful. If their forces rushed our flanks, then all we had to do was make our infantry block them. Merely extending our spears would be enough to keep their cavalry at bay.
Although it was still going to be a tense battle, it was fine. Victory was still within our grasp. We had the ability to come out victorious. The Goddesses have not abandoned us!
“Infantry company on the right-wing. Ready your spears and spread an anti-cavalry wall. Show those men of reckless valor Hell and……”
At that moment, something came into my vision.
The transportation wagons. The wagons loaded to the brim with black herbs were at our rear…… Surely, were they aiming for that!? Were they more desperate to secure their belongings than winning the battle immediately?
The enemy commander was an avaricious fellow. It was outrageous to be obsessed with money over one’s own victory. But that greed had grabbed us by the ankle……
I strongly bit my lip and gave an order.
“…… Focus military strength to the right-wing.”
“General, then our forces will be thin on both sides!”
My adjutant was startled.
“The enemy may be able to break through. Please reconsider!”
“Adjutant. They are aiming for our wagons. We cannot allow the herbs to be taken here.”
Those herbs were the future of our land. The life of our children. The hope to cure parents from despairing. Like we’d let these be taken back so easily!
“Quickly now. If the wagons are assaulted then everything will be over.”
“Yes, general! As you command!”
Once the flag signal was sent, our soldiers shifted their focus onto the right-wing. With this, the enemy commander should be discouraged from trying to pillage the wagons. Do not focus your eyes on something like loot and come at us fairly.
▯Weakest Demon Lord, Rank 71st, Dantalian
Empire Calendar: Year 1505, Month 9, Day 17
Dantalian’s Demon Lord Castle vicinity
“—War is truly quite enjoyable, lord.”
Miss Farnese hummed.
Currently, the enemy’s morale was cut down by a level. Their aggressive behavior had slowly turned into passive behavior. The sharpness they showed at the outbreak of war had already disappeared somewhere.
“To think that freely controlling people to this young lady’s will would give this much pleasure. This young lady can’t hold it back. Although winning is possible by simply crushing the enemy’s left-wing like this, but…… that would be tasteless.”
“What do you mean by tasteless?”
“Obviously, the taste of the dish. Dishes cooked with sincerity are what carries value. Would a dish handled with more haste than caution not be a discourtesy towards the guests?”
Miss Farnese spoke in a delighted voice.
Her face was glowing like a child who was absorbed in their play.
“This young lady wishes to manipulate a bit more. To brandish a bit more. To enjoy it a bit more. That is why this young lady will not do something tasteless like wiping out the enemy in an instant.”
Was that the inclination of the human called Farnese?
If it were me, I would not think like she did. If the opportunity to crush the other party appeared, then I made sure to tear them apart with no uncertain terms. Should I call it ‘breaking at the onset’? No matter what it was, I enjoyed disposing of it immediately.
On the other hand, Miss Farnese was part of the faction that enjoyed things leisurely. By giving the other party hope followed by despair and then followed by hope once more, she desired to receive pleasure for as long as possible.
Well, to sum it up, if you were to say that I felt authority when I saw myself overwhelming the other party, then you could say that Laura De Farnese felt authority when seeing the other party despair because of her. Only the direction was different, but the desire for authority was all the same.
I let out a small laugh.
“You’re no different from a child who is completely excited over their new toy. That, once you get bored of it to a certain degree, you’ll end up beginning to handle things quickly like myself. Since now is the most enjoyable time, play as much as you wish.”
“Mm. Since it’ll be a long time until this young lady begins to tire of this, this young lady is fine for now.”
“I have clearly given you my warning.”
I knew that feeling very well, since there was a time I had gone through something similar to what this little lady was experiencing right now.
Even now, the memory of when I had secretly made 2 male students drop out of school, while I was the school president, was delightful.
However, doing something like that repetitively only made it dull.
Although humans grew tired of other people rather quickly, they seldom grew tired of themselves. It was thanks to that principle that I was able to live this long…… Once 7 to 10 years pass, Miss Farnese will naturally come to realize this as well. Please do enjoy your golden days as much as possible.
Laura De Farnese watched the frontlines with eyes sparkling with anticipation.
“Ah—, don’t withdraw there. Please rebel against this young lady a bit more. Are you sirs not the valiant soldiers of the Empire of Habsburg? Redisplay the vigor that you’ve shown earlier and force this young lady into more hardship—. Try to rush at this young lady like miserable dogs and make this young lady into a mess—.”
……Was this a sadist, or was this a masochist?
I was reassured since I had assumed she was a sadist, but she might unexpectedly be a masochist.
Was that it? When I pressed down onto the crown of Miss Farnese’s head, was the thing she felt not umbrage but pleasure instead? Did even I, who had the best discerning eye in the world, misjudge her personality? How fearsome. For a healthy sadist like myself, masochists were nothing more than an alien race which I couldn’t understand. It was quite troubling that there were so many unique perverts in the world……
▯The Northern Guardian, Margrave of Rosenberg, Georg von Rosenberg
Empire Calendar: Year 1505, Month 9, Day 17
Dantalian’s Demon Lord Castle vicinity
……The situation was not good. Our forces were slowly being pushed back.
Though I wished to do whatever possible in order to turn the tide of battle, we lacked the ability to do so. The enemy stubbornly came at us while aiming for our spoils. Our troops were tied down because of this.
“It’s like our positions were swapped……”
“Yes. It’s as if they’re the attackers and we’re the defenders now. At this rate, we can’t make any moves.”
My adjutant bit his lip. His expression was wretched. Our forces were unable to do this or that, and were instead being dragged around by the enemy.
Regardless, that wasn’t the most distressful part. In truth, our soldiers were putting up a rather decent fight. That was the case if you at least judged it objectively. They overcame the 2 times difference in military strength and were fighting on equal terms with the enemy troops. This was most likely an impressive feat.
Ever so slightly, the sight of us being overpowered haunted me.
That was the feeling that was pressuring us into a bed of thorns.
Lament flowed from my lips.
“…… If our forces were on the offensive then many options would be available to us. At the very least, if our troops were in a clear disadvantage then we could order a retreat.”
“But it’s difficult to decide on anything in this current situation, general.”
“That is so. It is problematic.”
Whether it be victory or defeat, a type of result had to clearly appear in order for us to respond accordingly. And yet, what was this current situation? It wasn’t this way or the other. Only the flow of our military strength being gnawed away ever so slowly continued on……
I most likely should not order for a retreat in our current circumstances. Our men were currently facing the enemy desperately. The sole thing that was pushing our soldiers from behind was their hope. A little bit more. If they exerted a little bit more, then they may be able to win. This was the hope which was supporting them.
However, in truth, that ‘little bit’ never diminished below a point. The enemy forces tenaciously held the upper hand, and we were simply pulled along by them. The stamina of our troops was slowly reaching its limit……
If I were to order for a retreat now, then at that moment is when our soldiers would truly fall into despair. Their fighting spirit would vanish instantly. That would be the end. Without being able to retreat properly, without being able to even obtain victory, our forces would disgracefully collapse on their own.
It felt like we were stuck on a patient sundew. An adhesive-like unpleasant feeling went down my spine. My mouth became dry. The feeling of being neither one thing nor the other, while also being dragged step by step to our destined demise…… this vastly agonizing feeling.
Was the enemy commander truly a beginner? Were we perhaps caught in a trap? It was a foolish thought, but I was unable to cast away my doubts.
In the first place, this kind of battle went against my preference. Wreak havoc like a storm and wipe them out. That was the ideal type of battle that I looked forward to. How did it become like this……
“General. Perhaps this is the enemy’s stratagem?”
My adjutant gazed this way with an apprehensive face.
“I’m referring to the two units that our troops suppressed yesterday. They may have purposely left those units as bait in order to lure us into being careless.”
“No. That’s impossible.”
I adamantly shook my head.
“If you add those two units together then that would be 300 soldiers. If you combined those soldiers with the enemy troops we’re currently facing, then they could have finished us off with ease. Why would they discard their chance of obtaining an easy victory?”
“That’s right, huh……”
“Adding to that, we caved in their Demon Lord Castle. If perhaps, our current situation was indeed a trap, then that would be saying that they had allowed us to freely destroy their stronghold. The enemy would gain absolutely no benefit if this were true.”
There was no mistake. They would only experience losses.
Their black herbs were plundered and their Demon Lord Castle was destroyed. On a strategic level, the enemy forces have already lost. Even if they were to decimate us here, the enemy troops would be unable to celebrate their victory. To have won the battle, but to have been utterly defeated strategically, that would be the conclusion of this war.
“……I guess there is no other choice. Let us utilize the mages.”
“Yes. I as well think that there are no other methods left. If the Aerial Mage Force were to bombard the enemy from the skies with gunpowder, then our situation might turn for the better, even if it is by the smallest amount.”
The number of mages our forces currently possessed was 4. It was an excessively small number, but it was still enough to cause an impact on the enemy troops. Let us place our faith on this final card.
“General. The Aerial Mage Force have sortied in formation.”
My adjutant reported. Once I looked upwards, a group of mages soared through the sky while maintaining a height of 150 meters. Sweat formed on my palms…… Merely 4 mages. However, all 1,500 of our soldiers’ lives were resting on their shoulders. No, if you considered the herbs loaded on the wagons, then the lives of 7,000 people in our land were on their shoulders as well!
I plead of you. Bring chaos onto the opposing forces!
You do not have to kill many of them. It would be sufficient to simply plant the fear that ‘Gunpowder and flame are falling from the sky’, into their hearts. A slight disorder. That alone would be enough to create a foundation in order to turn the tides of battle. The mages hastily rushed towards the frontlines. A bit further, a little bit further……!
“G-General. Look over there.”
At that moment, my adjutant addressed me. It was a voice drenched in despair.
“It’s an Aerial Mage Force. The enemy troops have mobilized their Aerial Mage Force as well.”
“What. That can’t be……”
Possible. As I was about to finish my sentence, something came into my vision as well. On the other side, a group of hostile mages riding on brooms was approaching from the sky. They were mages with large conical hats worn on their heads.
“Do not tell me, witches……?”
My entire body fell into shock.
Witches, who were granted eternal youth by devoting their souls to Demon Lords, boasted the highest level of proficiency. Furthermore, they were many in number. Compared to our mages, they overwhelmed us.
“Ten, no, there are eleven. General! The opposing side has a more staggering amount of mage personnel!”
“That’s not possible. Why are there witches there!?”
In the center of the sky, our mages clashed against theirs. In a blink of an eye, our mages were hunted down. As if they were playing with toys, the witches killed off our mages one individual at a time. That was not a battle. That was simply a slaughter……
Our last remaining mage ran away frantically before he was finally shot down. As his limbs were severed, he let out a scream. The chunks of meat, which were broken into small pieces, fell from the sky and towards the ground. Then, the witches celebrated their carnage by spinning around in the sky. My adjutant and I became speechless by the horrendous sight we had just witnessed.
The witches returned to the enemy campsite as if they were living free from worldly cares. It almost felt like they had come out on a stroll and were heading back now.
My adjutant looked at me with a face as pale as a corpse.
Think. Do not panic and concentrate, Georg!
Why did they send out their witches now? If they had sortied their witches at the start of battle, then they could have wiped us out with much ease. Why did they pull out their trump card now of all times? Is their goal not to eradicate us? What possible meaning could there be…… Wait, what if there was no meaning? What if having no significance was what represented their intentions……?
I slowly opened my mouth.
“…… Raise the white flag. We are surrendering.”
“The enemy forces do not intend to face us seriously. They are slowly playing around with our troops, while waiting for us to wither away. They are treating us like toys.”
My jaws trembled because of this wretched emotion.
“They can demolish us whenever they so desire, however, they are not doing so. It’s because they planned to ridicule us from the very beginning.”
“That can’t be……”
My adjutant’s face became stained in anguish. I did not have the energy to reproach my adjutant for making such an expression. The sense of defeat was stabbing my insides.
“If we were to continue the battle like so, the only thing that’d be left for us is eradication. The only difference is whether we desired to be wiped out sooner, or later. Raise the white flag, adjutant…… We can only hope that they will show a touch of generosity towards us……”
We sent an envoy to the enemy camp to inform them of our surrender.
It wasn’t over with this. There was a chance that the enemy would not allow us to surrender. That they would continue to watch over us as we died while trembling in agony.
Then both retreat and surrender would become impossible. At that point, all that our soldiers could do was resolve themselves to die a dog’s death and fight until the very end. And, as the enemy commander had hoped, we would cry out in pain as we fell into a living hell, until we finally died in battle. An unspeakable impotent feeling weighed heavily on my shoulders……
Shortly after, our envoy returned.
Fortunately, it seems the enemy forces had accepted our surrender. Except, on certain conditions.
To leave behind the black herbs stolen from the Demon Lord Castle, to disarm ourselves, and to leave behind our military regiment’s banners.
“Are they telling us to give up on our spoils, our arms, and our honor?”
These were not terms that could easily be accepted. If anything, this was one of the most humiliating types of surrender.
My adjutant’s voice shook.
“General. These conditions are too severe. We should just fight until the very end instead.”
“Then what would remain? We will all perish, and the people of Rosenberg will be engulfed in chaos. We can only endure our humiliation here.”
“I will accept no arguments.”
The company commanders dropped their heads. The mood was heavy. It was the mood of people who had lost unjustifiably. It was unimaginable that we would arrive at this sort of situation. For them, and for myself……
“Notify them that we will accept their conditions.”
“Raise your heads. You all have done your best to follow me loyally. I am solely to blame for this defeat. You all have done nothing wrong.”
I pat the shoulder of my adjutant.
A soft voice, that even surprised me, had flowed from my lips.
“Do not forget today’s humiliation. Moreover, today will not be the worst day of your lives. You will be able to go home after having barely survived and with your limbs attached. There is nothing more important than this for a soldier.”
The company commanders nodded their heads with difficulty.
These men have shown more than enough loyalty to their lord. It was difficult to find soldiers as faithful as them in the empire. Solely being able to send these soldiers back home alive was enough to not discourage me.
“Now then, let us go. This old man shall take the lead.”
The battle was over.
Our troops advanced forward while in a column formation. We had left behind our weapons.
The majority of our soldiers refused to throw away their trivial weapons, such as daggers and knives, but there was no one who had an issue with this. We had discarded all of our crossbows and spears.
Our steps should have been as light as the amount of heavy equipment we had lost, but the atmosphere around our troops was heavy to no bounds. Everyone was silent.
The enemy’s troops were spread out on both sides of the hill. It felt like a sea that was divided in half. They were most likely telling us to go by obediently. I grudgingly ground my teeth by this path guiding that felt like they were mocking us.
‘One day I will get my revenge.’
I will thus give up upon the life of dying on my bed submissively.
Demon Lord Dantalian. Within my lifetime, swearing on my name, Georg von Rosenberg, I shall absolutely avenge myself for today’s defeat. Ten times, no, I shall repay you by twenty times the amount and watch as you plea for forgiveness on the floor!
If I am determined, then I could gather ten thousand soldiers. It wasn’t impossible to also request for assistance from the other margraves in the vicinity, and raise the troops up to twenty thousand. Eradicating something like a rank 71st Demon Lord was an effortless task.
Someday. Once the Black Death has calmed and my land has reached a certain point of stability, I shall return.
It was at that moment, while I was trudging forward with the remnant of my troops.
Something was caught in my line of sight. At the top of the hill. Thinking that I had seen wrong, I furrowed my brows and became speechless.
An angel was standing atop of the hill.
An indescribably beautiful girl was standing there. She was so charming that it made me, who was at the age where I should be preparing for death, think so as well. I stared at her vacantly before I quickly shook my head as if I was shuddering.
Calm down. There was no reason for an angel to be reflected in my eyes, right?
I was too stained with reality to believe that an angel could have suddenly descended down onto the earth. Let’s just think of it as having seen an incredibly elegant girl.
At that moment, the girl sent a modest greeting towards this direction. She slightly raised the edge of her coat and bent her waist. It was a style of greeting that was perfectly faithful to the ways of nobility.
‘Surely, that isn’t a greeting towards me?’
In order to examine the girl closely, I blinked my eyes several times.
And at the moment I looked again at the distant hill.
A devil was smiling behind the girl.
Although I have never witnessed the existence known as the devil in my entire life, ‘what’ exactly people referred to when calling something the devil, I now understood in this moment.
Every single nerve in my body was sending warning signals to my brain.
That wasn’t allowed. That was something that shouldn’t be allowed to exist above ground.
Of course, it was a hallucination. Once I blinked again and gazed at the top of the hill once more, the angel-like girl had returned.
However, my instincts were screaming. The intuition that I’ve polished for 50 years was shouting with all it had. That it was dangerous, that remaining here for even one more second was tremendously dangerous. Following the intuition of mine that has saved my life countless of times, I opened my mouth.
“All forces…… retreat! This is a trap!”
And at the same time.
Thousands of arrows rained down from above the hill.
Screams resonated from all sides. Blood splattered. The once silent march of departure had instantly become a living hell. Left and right, the enemy troops that were split in half were firing their crossbows without end. Our troops, who had left behind their weapons, could not even consider the option of resisting and were slaughtered like livestock.
“Escape! All forces, do not fall to your knees. Do everything you can to run away!”
Despite having shouted as if I was vomiting blood, my soldiers did not respond. They were merely swept up by the panic, and were running about in confusion. There were even soldiers who had lowered their heads to the ground and began trembling.
“Your lordship. You have to escape!”
My adjutant shouted.
“This place is dangerous! Please consider the future!”
“But the soldiers—”
“We do not consider men who are unable to take care of their own lives as a part of the free company. Hey! Take his lordship margrave and retreat quickly! If our lord gets even a single scratch, then I will personally shove a nail in your ass!”
The cavalry came to my side, but I did not move. I was the commander. I could not run away while leaving behind my soldiers. Even if they were not a citizen militia but hired soldiers instead, it was still the same.
“Pardon my rudeness.”
My adjutant extended his leg. He then stabbed the heel of his shoe into the thigh of my warhorse. My warhorse, having been jabbed by a sharp heel, let out a loud neigh and started to run at full speed.
“The Goddesses shall protect Rosenberg!”
In mere moments, I had crossed over the hill and escaped from the battlefield. I turned back for the final time and saw my adjutant doing whatever he could to get the soldiers in order.
An arrow came flying from somewhere and pierced my adjutant’s head. He fell from his horse. My adjutant’s facial expression, and the sight of him falling to the ground, I was not able to see any of it. The infantry were completely covering the area around him. My adjutant’s corpse fell into the center of remnant troops…… like being swallowed into an ocean……
The taste of blood spread in my mouth. Unbeknownst to me, I had bit my tongue. Wrath travelled through my veins and raged on. The inside of my head became so hot that my skull felt numb. I glared at the hill.
“I will kill you……!”
It was certain that that girl was the enemy forces’ commander. That greeting, the greeting that appeared so modest, was nothing more than a signal to commence fire. That girl was the pawn of Demon Lord Dantalian. The main culprit to bestow onto me disgrace. And my, Rosenberg’s, enemy!
“I will not forgive you! Swearing on the River of Styx, I will not forgive you until the day you die! Putting the name and honor of Rosenberg on the line, putting my blood and bone on the line, I will absolutely kill you!”
Mock this as the shouts from a defeated bastard. That was fine.
As a pledge of oath, I spoke the maxim passed down for generations in my family.
“The North shall not send this vengeance into oblivion!”
I shall devote the remainder of my little remaining life to get revenge on that girl. Demon Lord Dantalian. You as well, I shall cut off your head and place it on the Goddess’ altar. And then, once I’ve achieved all of my vengeance, is when I shall close my eyes……