Chapter 7:

CHAPTER 4: KURO'S WAR

The Human Saint is Bored, so I was Summoned to Another World Vol. 5


***February 10th, in the first year of the Saint. On the outskirts of the city of Devyere…***Bookmark here

The walled city of Devyere had opened its gates to let out a company of Imperial horsemen. Fully armed, and in a hurry, their aim was to patrol the eastern borders of the kingdom of Amaranth, close to the limits of the Duchy of Savoy. This was because it had come to the attention of the local Imperial commander that there was an army assembling just outside the kingdom’s eastern end, and he would never dismiss such reports, even if it might be false.Bookmark here

After all, it’s an opportunity to advance his career.Bookmark here

“Double on your watch, men! These northern barbarians can’t be trusted, even if some of them are our allies for now.” the commander told his small army, “I want two columns on the march. Prepare for the possibility of an ambush!”Bookmark here

His veteran cavalry promptly obeyed. The forest area between Devyere and Savoy was thick with vegetation, with the only road that led to the other lands east of Amaranth bisecting the woods. In the eyes of a seasoned military leader, it’d be a perfect ambush site.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

For a while now, after the Siege of Amaranth, there had been an unusual peace in the northern kingdoms. Truth be told, the Empire had expected a severe response from the barbarian kings after their landing on Amaranthine shores. The Imperial legions’ presence was simply not welcome in these parts of Chersea. But only rumors of armies mustering or marching into Amaranth came…and these are proven to be false.Bookmark here

However, the Imperials will not take their chances.Bookmark here

Each time a rumor would surface, the high command in the Amaranthine capital would send men to verify the report, as well as patrol the area. However, with the passing of time and countless false rumors, the leaders of the Imperial expeditionary forces gradually decreased the size of the men they would send, until it became a norm for the cavalry—considered inferior to the Imperial heavy infantries—to do the routine.Bookmark here

And the local Imperial commander of Devyere had the same reservations about this latest rumor he received about an army that infiltrated through the eastern borders. He never sent a messenger to his superiors back in the Amaranthine capital, but as he wanted to please them—and to ensure that it was indeed false, he mustered a small force of cavalry to do a patrol up to the limits of Amaranth with Savoy.Bookmark here

The Imperial horsemen moved cautiously but with considerable speed through the thick forest, ’till they reached the borders of Savoy. Across the invisible limits, they could make out a small group of the Duke’s soldiers manning a customary checkpoint designed to collect taxes from the passing merchant caravans.Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

Once they came into full view, the Savoians quickly assembled in attention, and gave them an honorary salute, as was the custom. Since the Empire and Savoy had no quarrel as of that moment, the Imperials obliged, led by the commander himself. When he was satisfied with the results of an inspection of the area around the borders, he ordered his men to turn around and head back to Devyere.Bookmark here

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On the way back, the Imperials maintained their watchfulness. The rumor turned out to be false, but there was still danger on their return journey. This was because it was not a secret to every legionnaire that while most of the Amaranthine royalty were captured after the siege of their capital, their sympathizers refused to lay down arms.Bookmark here

And to make matters even more complicated, a princess of the von Alberts escaped to the Saint’s land.Bookmark here

Because of this, a good number of royalist nobles never surrendered. And with Devyere’s relative isolation from the rest of the kingdom of Amaranth, taking control of the region proved difficult. The royalist rebels could lay a trap for them any time and in any place.Bookmark here

So, the Imperials kept an eye for signs of an ambush. And, not wishing to exhaust their horses in a continuous full-gallop until it was necessary, the horsemen reduced their march’s pace to a trot. One hundred men, divided into two columns guarding the flanks, and grouped into four cohorts with vanguards and rearguards, all waltzed into their enemies’ line of sight…Bookmark here

Just like what they intended.Bookmark here

Once the vanguard passed the designated point, the rebels had the rearguard quietly surrounded. Their leader, a man with striking white hair and an effeminate face named Griffyth, never shouted. But his attack begun with a gust of wind slicing through the rearguard’s horses, cutting the steeds’ legs and removing the advantage of the Imperial horsemen in one fell swoop.Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

As the stunned Imperials picked themselves, Griffyth never let them regain composure. He ordered his men forward…Bookmark here

“For the Saint and Chersea!”Bookmark here

Griffyth’s army emerged from the trees to pounce on the surprised Imperials. However, the horsemen showed their fearsome training and discipline by calmly fighting back and slowly merging their scattered forces in a single, armored formation.Bookmark here

There were a few injuries and deaths among them at the initial attack, but the Imperials weathered the surprising offense of Griffyth’s men. Soon, the horsemen had already arranged themselves, and with their shields reinforced by magic, overlapped it together to form the Roman ‘testudo’.Bookmark here

The ranged attacks of Griffyth’s army were rendered useless by the Imperial ‘turtle’ formation. However, it was exactly the moment Griffyth was waiting for.Bookmark here

“Slice at their feet!” he bellowed. Immediately, the attacks of his men focused on the partly exposed lower limbs of the Imperials. The magicians and archers began taking shots at the horsemen’s feet, while the swordsmen and spearmen rushed forward to crash into the Imperial ‘Turtle’. The horsemen braced to receive their head-on attack…Bookmark here

But the rebels had a few tricks on their sleeves.Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

The beleaguered Imperial horsemen were astonished to witness their enemy halting in their advance. The ranged attacks also ceased, as the northern barbarians began taunting them instead.Bookmark here

“Remain in your positions!” the commander cried out, “They’re trying to bait you into breaking formation!”Bookmark here

For the horsemen, it was truly an unnerving sight. But the Imperials followed their commander and held fast. None dared to break formation, that was, until…Bookmark here

“M-Monster!”Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

“They’re coming from the underground as well!” a horseman shouted in desperation. From the ground, spears and swords came out—followed by men in concealed trenches that either skewered or sliced-off limbs of the unfortunate Imperials. Soon, their ‘turtle’ formation fell apart, and it degenerated into simultaneously desperate, single battles, in which the rebels made use of their advantage in range by firing precise ‘Incinerate’ spells.Bookmark here

“Regroup! Regroup! Stand fast, you sorry lot!” the Imperial commander desperately cried out. A handful of his men acknowledged the order and stood with him in one corner of the battle site, “On me! We’re going to break through them to unite with the vangua—”Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

The Imperial commander never finished his sentence. A loud bang tore through the chaos and noise of the battlefield, and his men were horrified to witness their leader’s head explode. The bits of blood and gore splashed on their faces.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

And not too far from their defensive line was a black-haired man with a smoking ‘demon’ weapon.Bookmark here

“The commander is dead!” someone from the Imperial ranks shouted. With the enemy all around them and their leader fallen, the remaining horsemen threw their weapons on the ground to surrender. The most senior officer still alive also hoisted a white flag and stepped forward towards Griffyth.Bookmark here

“We yield to you, our enemy.” the officer told him, “I plead quarter for me and my men.”Bookmark here

“Oh?” Griffyth had a nasty smirk on his face, “I wonder what our own commander would say about your offer?”Bookmark here

Huh? Are you not the leader of these men?”Bookmark here

“Does it look like that to you? Sorry bud, but you’re mistaken.” Griffyth nonchalantly said, “I’m just a second-in-command. Our general is that black-haired guy with a demon weapon who killed your commander.”Bookmark here

At that moment, Kuro made his presence known to everyone.Bookmark here

“Meet Sir Kuro.” Griffyth introduced him, “He’ll be the one who’s going to decide on your fates, including those Imperials from your vanguard our other group caught.”Bookmark here

“S-Sir Kuro!” the Imperial officer approached him, “I yield—”Bookmark here

“I don’t want to waste resources by taking prisoners.” Kuro stared at the Imperial officer with steel-cold eyes. His order to the formidable magician of the ‘Band of the Oak’, Tarasca, was clear, “Burn them alive.”Bookmark here

“Well…” Griffyth turned to the Imperials, “We’re just following orders, see? Don’t take it personally.”Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

The serene forests of Devyere-Savoy were then filled with horrible screams of men crying out in pain and despair while being incinerated to death…Bookmark here

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***The river of Bere, to the north-east of Amaranth, February 13th…***Bookmark here

With Kuro’s ambuscade of an Imperial cavalry detachment at the borders of Devyere reaching the headquarters of the Imperial forces in Amaranth, diplomatic protests were sent to the Duke of Savoy to expel any foreign forces that were in his territory.Bookmark here

Of course, the Duke denied allowing foreign armies into his lands, even going as far as offering the Imperial ambassadors escorts to the site of the February 10th battle to inspect it and prove that those who attacked the Imperial cavalrymen were bandits, not professional armies.Bookmark here

Naturally, the Imperial delegation refused. They were afraid it’s a ruse for another ambush, so they labeled those who massacred their men as royalist rebels and bandit groups making efforts to ‘destabilize the Amaranthine kingdom’.Bookmark here

After all, no survivor was left to tell the tale of what actually happened.Bookmark here

However, rumors circulated once again that the legionnaires could be defeated, even by rebels and bandits, which proved to be even more disastrous to the Imperials. It shook the Amaranthines’ faith in their legions and inflamed the legionnaires. The men clamored to be sent to fight the ‘rebels and bandits’ who killed their comrades, and to avoid a mutiny, the expeditionary force commander Umberto Benicci decided to make an example of their enemy and sent out a legion to avenge ‘Devyere’.Bookmark here

The men that marched to Devyere eventually arrived at the region of Bere river, for they were trying to run after their enemies based on scout reports, and recent local knowledge of the area.Bookmark here

“There they are!” an Imperial scout notified his unit once he saw the tents and extinguished campfires of their elusive enemy a few distances away across the riverbank. One look and they could see that they could surprise their opponents, for they could make out the plates and overturned pots—a sign that their enemies were in the middle of a meal.Bookmark here

“Their group was smaller than what the reports showed.” an officer commented.Bookmark here

“Don’t be fooled by that, Henri!” the Imperial commander rebuked his staff, “The tree lines are flanking their right and left. Be careful; those bandits and rebels might’ve hidden their other men inside the forests. Bring in the archers and magicians!”Bookmark here

At once, the men who were ordered to the front came. The commander, not wishing a repeat of the one-sided battle in Devyere, ordered that the trees around the enemy camp be burned. Soon, the forests were set alight, as the enemy skirmishers shot their projectiles on the Imperials.Bookmark here

“Look at those bastards trying to stand up against us!” the commander began agitating his men, “Do they really think they could withstand our thunderous march towards their camp?”Bookmark here

The legionnaires let out their war cries, and without a moment’s delay, trumpets were blown, and they took their battle positions.Bookmark here

“Archers and magicians to the front! Bombard them with your arrows and spells. Infantry to the middle. Don’t waste time on their skirmishers!” the commander ordered, “Turtle formation! Advance!”Bookmark here

The legionnaires, even though they came from a long way from the city of Amaranth, showed no signs of slowing down. They steadily marched toward the enemy battle line, which was composed of skirmishers to the front and spearmen on the front line.Bookmark here

Seeing the quality of the men they’re facing while watching the burning forest that deprived their enemies an opportunity to ambush them, the legionnaires’ morale went up.Bookmark here

“The Saint of the Flame blessed us with a righteous resolve to smite these barbarians and bring order to Chersea! Kill them all!”Bookmark here

The legionnaires then began fording the river, using the ice spells of their magicians to freeze the water for makeshift pontoons…Bookmark here

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In the defenders’ camp, the smoke from the burning forests, as well as the physical and magical projectiles caused the skirmishers to break and run back to the main battle line with a few casualties, which was being led by Griffyth, and the black-haired commander of the ‘Holy Coalition’, Kuro.Bookmark here

“And there goes Stephan’s warriors.” Griffyth commented, “Everyone’s retreating magnificently…”Bookmark here

“Just like in our plan.” Kuro reassured him, “I just didn’t expect them to burn the forests around us and come while we’re having our breakfast. Now, I’m really pissed.”Bookmark here

“Well, shit.Bookmark here

“Let’s use those trees to our advantage. Tell Tarasca and his magicians to blow wind towards the Imperials. Stephan’s skirmishers will keep the enemy magicians occupied so they couldn’t negate the wind spell.”Bookmark here

“Smokescreen, huh?Bookmark here

“Not only that.” Kuro laughed, “These Imperial guys fighting in front of us came marching all the way from the city of Amaranth, without time to rest save for their sleeps or when eating.”Bookmark here

“How d’you know?”Bookmark here

“Well, because of the number of days.”Bookmark here

Ah, that new time-reckoning system?”Bookmark here

“Yep. I told you before that 24 hours is one day, right? How many days have passed since we ambushed that Imperial cavalry detachment?”Bookmark here

Uh, three?”Bookmark here

“Yep. And from the spy reports, the legions are encamped near the city of Amaranth, or in the south, protecting their supply lines, both of which are of considerable distance to where we are right now. Their speedy presence here could only mean one thing…”Bookmark here

“They did a forced march.”Bookmark here

“Precisely.” Kuro took his gun and made sure he loaded it, “And because of that, I’m pretty sure they were tired. As a mercenary, you know it’s a mistake to send your men to battle without proper rest, and preparations, right?”Bookmark here

“Yep.”Bookmark here

Kuro smirked, “Well then, let’s butcher them! And don’t forget to cover your nose to avoid inhaling the smoke. Giving an extra effort to breathe would further tire you, see?”Bookmark here

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Without delay, Kuro and his mercenaries surged forward to battle the exhausted legionnaires, who were about to gain a foothold on the other side of the river. First, the magicians led by Tarasca caused the wind to blow the smoke from the burning forests towards the Imperial soldiers.Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

The combination of heat, dust, soot, and smoke obscured the eyes of every legionnaire who crossed and were crossing the waters. The thick smoke further caused them to have difficulty in breathing, thus distracting them from a proper fight. Soon, several Imperials lost consciousness, and their crossing came to a halt.Bookmark here

The confusion was quickly exploited by the skirmishers under Stephan. Returning from their feigned retreat, a hail of javelins, stones, and magic spells rained on the poor legionnaires; the Imperial magicians’ attempts to negate the spells being thrown at their hapless forces were rendered useless…Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

…which is further made worse by the shooting of Kuro and Griffyth’s men.Bookmark here

One by one, the Imperial magicians working to protect their allies were picked off from a distance and shot at by the members of the ‘Band of the Oak’. If a musket ball missed the target, another one would quickly back up the shot, ensuring the kill. The Imperial archers couldn’t make out of their targets from the other side of the river, since the smoke obscured their line of sight. A mass volley would be impossible to achieve without hitting their own men.Bookmark here

Soon, the magicians maintaining the ice bridge were dead or bleeding injured. It’s not without a doubt that the magical pontoon collapsed, with all the men crossing it, falling into the river.Bookmark here

Kevin’s ‘Oaklyn Bets’ made a short work for the legionnaires who were forced to swim unto the wrong side of the riverbank. Kuro himself ordered them to take no prisoners, and to kill every Imperial in sight, injured or not.Bookmark here

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***The Amaranthine-Valley Cities border, February 20, the first year of the Saint…***Bookmark here

The double defeats of the legionnaires in the Massacre of Devyere and Battle of River Bere caused a resounding disaster for the Imperial expeditionary forces in Amaranth. Lily knew the propaganda value of each victory, and so, through their liaison, Prince Simon of Nerfes, the news was spread around alleging that the Empire’s legions could be outwitted and defeated.Bookmark here

The main Imperial command at the city of Amaranth finally realized that it was fighting an organized force, instead of a ragtag group of bandits and rebels, as espoused by the Duke of Savoy. The emperor was furious, for he lost a legion in River Bere, and demanded vengeance on his losses. Morale among the legionnaires was plummeting, as their commanders struggle to produce a strategy to counter the threat.Bookmark here

Because of these, General Umberto Benicci and his staff decided to bring the fight to the enemy. Even though they never knew the exact identity of their opponents, they were to strike back. With that, and acting on the information about the existence of a ‘Holy Coalition’ led by the Iron Princess, the Imperials singled out the city of Stadtsberg and the Duchy of Savoy for an offensive.Bookmark here

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Back on Stadtsberg, news of the impending attack of the legionnaires and the official declaration of war from the Empire caused panic and alarm among its population. The levies were called to serve, and the defenses were reinforced.Bookmark here

At the coalition camp, Lily, Griffyth, and Kuro took charge of organizing their men.Bookmark here

“How many men do we have?” Kuro asked.Bookmark here

“The army got around 8,000 spears at our disposal.” Griffyth explained, “And the city militia would bring in 1,500 more later.”Bookmark here

“How about the archers and cavalry?”Bookmark here

“I think Stephan’s group had 500, plus the 3,000 men from the coalition forces. As for the cavalry, we have 200 horses from Winters, and a further 600 under the command of the Count of Brooke.”Bookmark here

“Well, I guess that would suffice.”Bookmark here

“Why, what’s your plan?” Lily had Kuro explain.Bookmark here

“We will not wait for them here.”Bookmark here

“You mean…”Bookmark here

“We’re meeting them here for battle, in this valley to the south.” Kuro circled the map where he intended to bring the coalition army to meet the threat of the attack towards the city of Stadtsberg.Bookmark here

“Oh?” Lily exclaimed, “Just like the good old times! That’s the Dawson valley area.”Bookmark here

“Dawson valley? Isn’t that the place where you and Maddie fought against the Duke of Braunhauer?”Bookmark here

“Yep. But now I’ll be fighting with you…”Bookmark here

“Alright.” Kuro laughed, “But don’t get excited. I’m still trying to learn the ropes of command.”Bookmark here

“Well, if winning the battles of Devyere and Bere River was ‘learning the ropes of command’, I wonder what would happen if you already knew about those.”Bookmark here

Griffyth then interjected, “With Kuro on the helm, I’m pretty confident that we could win this war, even though it’s the legionnaires whom we are fighting. We may not win against them in a toe-to-toe engagement, but we can certainly prevail if we outsmart them.”Bookmark here

“Right!” Lily agreed.Bookmark here

“Well, thanks!” Kuro told them, “But let’s focus on this upcoming battle. We could continue talking to each other later when we have defeated the Imperials and removed the threat to our base.”Bookmark here

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The Dawson Valley region was a strip of land running from north to south, straddling right in the border of Stadtsberg and Amaranth. It was a rural country, populated by a few villages with considerable distance from each other. There was no central town, nor a city, and the land was gold with wheat fields.Bookmark here

The Imperial armies that were heading towards the city of Stadtsberg had to pass the Dawson Valley; otherwise, they would have to go a long way around, through Savoy into the kingdom of Nerfes, and enter that place to its east. The invading forces were composed of two legions of 5,000 men each, an auxiliary cavalry of a thousand horses, and a screening force of archers and magicians.Bookmark here

Not only that, but there were also Amaranthine forces among the invading legions, led by their respective lords, and equipped with their own weaponry. If brought to a total, the Imperial strike force heading to Stadtsberg would amount to 15,000 to 18,000 men.Bookmark here

And the importance of this army was reflected by the command to which it was given to: a senior Imperial commander, ranking just below General Umberto Benicci.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Lily and Kuro watched the approaching legions from a field just a stone’s throw away from the main road. Dawson valley was an uninterrupted plain of green grass and wheat fields, without a tree in sight, and so the defending army could see the invaders from afar.Bookmark here

“Ah! Finally, we could fly this flag!” Lily commented the moment she unfurled the banner of the Human Saint, Madelaine Rubinforth, “It’s been a while since we last saw this on the battlefield.”Bookmark here

“Well, I’m hoping that this would be the last time that we’ll see it fly over sites like this,” Kuro replied.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry! If we held them back, we could now attack them from the south, as you suggested before.”Bookmark here

“But what about the Duchy of Savoy? Do you think they could hold out there?” Kuro asked Lily. He was concerned that if Savoy fell, their lines of communication with their other forces in Colveente would be isolated, and the Holy Palatial Gardens could also be put at risk.”Bookmark here

“Well, from what I heard…” Lily explained, “Simon was bringing in reinforcements from Nerfes, as requested by the Duke of Savoy when he decided to throw his lot to our cause.”Bookmark here

“He did? Already?”Bookmark here

“Yep! You’re too busy fighting your wars, that you forgot to see what’s happening on the other aspects of this conflict.” Lily chuckled, “But, not that it’s a bad thing. In fact, the other kings were being convinced that fighting the emperor and upholding Maddie’s peace was the right cause.”Bookmark here

“Well, in that case, let’s continue on winning!”Bookmark here

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The legionnaires arranged themselves into a line almost of equal length from the coalition forces. The heavy infantry took the center positions. The auxiliaries to the flanks and the archers marched to the front to skirmish. The Imperial magicians were at the back of the Imperial line, in reserve in case their skills are needed.Bookmark here

The coalition forces defending the road to Stadtsberg were arranged in a strange formation though. Instead of the typical line arrangement of heavy infantry to the center and light infantry to the flanks, Lily put the heavy infantry on the front of the whole line, each was arranged according to their country of allegiance.Bookmark here

The men from Nerfes, under Lily’s leadership, which was considered the main bulwark of the coalition, took the center position. To their left stood the mercenaries, led by Griffyth and Kuro, as well as the other mercenary captains, Stephan, Kevin, and Winters. The right flank was composed of men from the other kingdoms of the coalition: Colveente, Amarth, Stadtsberg, Baltes, Halveth, and Devon (another member of the League of Valley Cities).Bookmark here

The skirmishers of Stephan’s mercenary company fought the Imperial archers at the front, where they suffered casualties as well as inflicted them on their enemies.Bookmark here

The levies of Stadtsberg stood as a reserve, behind the coalition lines.Bookmark here

From the level ground, one could mistake that the number of forces of both the Imperials and the coalition was the same. However, one look from above, and you could easily spot the disparity in size: the Imperial line was thicker than the coalition.Bookmark here

“Attack!”Bookmark here

Trumpets from the Imperial side were blown, signifying the commencement of the main battle. The cavalry opened the melee, clashing with the armored cavalry of the Count of Brooke to the left side of the battlefield. Concurrent with that event, Kuro had the skirmishers of Stephan slowly retreat as the Imperial heavy infantry and archers marched closely behind them.Bookmark here

“!!!” Someone from the Imperial side blew another trumpet, and with that cue, the Imperials rushed to cover the remaining gap between them and the coalition lines.Bookmark here

“Here they come!” Lily cried out to her forces. The men from Nerfes braced for the Imperial attack.Bookmark here

“Remember the battle plan, guys!” Griffyth shouted, “We’ll defeat them even though we’re outnumbered!”Bookmark here

The clash was on! The men from Nerfes valiantly stood their ground as the Imperials mercilessly cut down their comrades who fell on the initial charge. Swords swinging to deflect the spear thrusts, men falling from being skewered with spearheads, skulls breaking after being bashed by shields, and agonizing screams coming from those who were injured, yet got stepped upon because of the extreme proximity of the belligerent forces to one another.Bookmark here

Damn it! Where are the others?” Kuro looked around as the chaotic battle raged. The Imperial charge caused him to be separated from Griffyth and his men. Forced to defend himself; for now, he was fighting with a spear, striking a legionnaire with it on the legs and following his attack with a knee to the poor man’s face. The moment the legionnaire fell, he stabbed him in the neck.Bookmark here

The battle continued to be fought, even though the coalition center was budging from the extreme pressure being put upon their line by the Imperial legions. Their intention was to break their enemies’ line in two by smashing the middle.Bookmark here

“Just a bit longer…” Kuro was muttering to himself as he tried to go back to his lines, pursued by some Imperial legions, “Come on…hold…”Bookmark here

Then from somewhere, he heard Griffyth shout, “Kuro! The cavalry has broken through!”Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

Grabbing his gun from behind, Kuro shot towards the sky. And then, something terrible happened.Bookmark here

“Retreat! Retreat! The center is breaking!”Bookmark here

“What? That’s not—” Kuro, though bewildered by what he had just heard, continued to parry and counter the attacks thrown at him by the legionnaires. As if driven into a frenzy when they heard the shout that the coalition center was breaking, the Imperials intensified their attacks.Bookmark here

“!!!” Kuro then finally could break free from the legionnaires that surrounded him. He was quickly rescued by Griffyth’s men, who grabbed him when they had the chance. Mistaking the blood and guts all over his body for injuries, they hurriedly brought him over to an elevated spot quite a distance from the battle line to be healed.Bookmark here

From there, Kuro could see the men of Nerfes, with Lily in the center, being slowly pushed back by the legionnaires. However, Griffyth’s line and the right flank were holding up, forming a familiar, crescent-shaped line…Bookmark here

…just like how he played it.Bookmark here

With a nasty smirk on his face, Kuro reloaded his matchlock and took another shot upwards.Bookmark here

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On the Imperial side, the legionnaires’ morale shot up when they noticed that the men from Nerfes—their most potent adversary in that battlefield—retreated. As their commanders instructed them, they would present a ‘solid’ front, no space in between that could be exploited by their enemies.Bookmark here

And so, with the retreat of the coalition army, men from behind rushed in to take the vacant spots from their fallen comrades, or the expanded line. Their archers were shooting from behind them, accompanied by their own magicians, who were casting spells and counter-spells. They could easily make out that they were taking a toll against the coalition forces.Bookmark here

“Push them back! Give them no mercy!” the Imperial commander ordered, “We’ll raze Stadtsberg before we sleep!”Bookmark here

“Aaaaaagggghhhhhhh!!!” the legionnaires kept their pressure on the coalition center.Bookmark here

“We’re winning!” one Imperial officer cried out, “Butcher them, boys! Women and ale are on me later!”Bookmark here

And then came a faint bang.Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

With that, there was a sudden change in the battlefield. The men of Nerfes stopped on their retreat and faced the legionnaires with extreme hatred on their faces. A few seconds later, and the Imperials realized they were now facing a counter-attack from the coalition forces, headed by the…Bookmark here

“It’s the Iron Princess!”Bookmark here

Lily led her men, while under the Bloodbath spell, killing, maiming, and crushing her enemies and unfortunate allies alike. The sight of her blood-red eyes, grim face and body that was bathing in blood was enough to intimidate every soul present on that battlefield. She was an unstoppable force, and the Imperials that finally realized their impending doom turned to run.Bookmark here

However, Lily and the men of Nerfes were only two of their problems, for the left and the right flanks moved inwards, hacking their way into the Imperial battle line. The legionnaires then noticed that their ‘solid’ formation became a liability for them, for, in their much-reduced territory, they could not even lift their swords to defend themselves. The coalition forces had a field day killing them off, assisted by the cavalry of the Count of Brooke, who earlier routed their Imperial cavalry opponents by breaking through them.Bookmark here

Kuro had an exhilarating feeling within him when he understood he had just executed a perfect ‘Battle of Cannae’.Bookmark here

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***The city of Amaranth, 22nd of February***Bookmark here

The royal castle was wrapped in gloom, as the commander of the Imperial forces in Amaranth, Umberto Benicci, demoted several Imperial officers for the debacle at Dawson Valley. He had to do it, though he may be reluctant to, for the officers were talking of requesting the emperor to replace him.Bookmark here

It’s not like he truly wanted the position, but Umberto would never relinquish it for now…not until he had his vengeance on that Saint, Madelaine Rubinforth.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“I told you, cooperate with your other enemy, the Crown Prince David of Amaranth.” Seirna explained to him, “Your pride would only lead to nothing, Prince Umberto, but your ruin is assured.”Bookmark here

“You won’t understand, Your Holiness, they killed my entire house! How could I ally with such people? My ancestors would only look at me with shame.”Bookmark here

“That doesn’t matter now unless you want your vengeance on the Human Saint denied.”Bookmark here

Umberto fell silent when Seirna dropped the reality of his situation. While it’s true that the Amaranthine Crown Prince’s family caused the deaths of the members of his own house, right now, he needed all the support he could get, be it a friend or former foe, so that he could reach his goals. Losing two entire legions in Dawson Valley made it clear to him he wasn’t cut-up for a military command; the Saint of the Flame knew this, and yet she still prodded the emperor to appoint him as the over-all commander.Bookmark here

“Of course, I made it so that you could avenge your family.” she defended her actions, “Without you at the helm of the Imperial army, the best that you can do against Maddie was to spy on her from afar. That’s why I wanted you to cooperate with the Crown Prince. At least he could command properly!”Bookmark here

Umberto only gave Seirna the cold shoulder. He never intended to listen to her, anyway.Bookmark here

“Playing the stubborn card, aren’t we?” Seirna just shrugged, “Alright, have it your way. My goals here are done, anyway. Chersea’s back in the world of war, and that’s what I wanted.”Bookmark here

“You really want to watch this land burn, aren’t you, Your Holiness?”Bookmark here

“But unlike you, I wanted to burn it because I have a clear purpose: to enable humanity to rise from the other races. Lord Gaius would be proud. In the end, we only wanted what’s best for humans, and you’re missing your chance.”Bookmark here

“My goal is to kill Lady Madelaine, not to help this wretched race.”Bookmark here

“I know, and I’m helping you. But you won’t listen.”Bookmark here

“Why would I?” Umberto countered, “You wanted me to defeat this Kuro and kill him before going for the Human Saint? Aren’t I wasting further resources?”Bookmark here

Seirna then caught him in his cheeks and gripped him tight there, “Listen here, you fool! You know yourself what that man can do. He defeated you in Hagena Castle, crushed your legions in Bere and Dawson Valley, and you wanted him free?”Bookmark here

“Of course. I’m a prince and not a murderer. He and I have no quarrels.”Bookmark here

“Enough of that nonsense! Soon, this Kuro would be as much as powerful as Madelaine, and as he was her servant, you’ll soon have difficulty getting near even to the Human Saint’s shadows. Everything that has kept you alive so far will be for naught!”Bookmark here

“Well, what do you want me to do?”Bookmark here

“I’ll talk to your emperor about sending in more reinforcements and you keeping your command. Go to Savoy, where the legions were still fighting, and lead your forces there. Draw the army that defeated your invasion of Stadtsberg by threatening their flanks. Make sure you cooperate with the Crown Prince David in leading these legions. Understood?”Bookmark here

General Umberto Benicci nodded, and Seirna finally let him go.Bookmark here

Bookmarked
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