Chapter 9:

CHAPTER 6: COUNTER-ATTACK

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


***The Imperial expeditionary forces headquarters, a few miles into the region of Huirot in Savoy…***Bookmark here

The arrival of the emperor himself in the Imperial camp was a piece of welcome news to the men who were besieging the town of Huirot. Their morale was low, brought forth by their successive defeats in Devyere, Bere river, and Dawson Valley, and they couldn’t wait for a shift in the leadership of their army.Bookmark here

In fact, their only victory in the current conflict so far, in Huirot, was brought not by their own general, but by the cautious approach of the Amaranthine crown prince who was helping their commander.Bookmark here

It was Prince David who correctly deduced that the combined forces of the Savoian duke and the men from Nerfes would conduct another ‘Devyere’, thus he had scouts and reconnaissance parties go ahead of the main army. As a result, they killed and capture the men poised to ambush them.Bookmark here

As a result, the morale of the invasion forces in Savoy was raised, though not that high, and the legions performed as they were expected.Bookmark here

Amidst all these, the commander of the Imperial expedition, Umberto, also worked his share of the load. Though he was not that good in generalship, he excelled in espionage and subterfuge, so he gathered agents and information to his side to spread misinformation on his enemies.Bookmark here

It was in this capacity that they learned that the ‘Holy Coalition’ was planning to relieve the men in Huirot.Bookmark here

“General, I’d rather want us to take the offensive to the enemy.” the emperor demanded at the war council, “It’s not enough that we hunkered down in this siege.”Bookmark here

“Your Imperial Majesty, I’d like to ask for more time to wrap this battle up.” General Benicci replied, “The main army of the duke of Savoy and some men from Nerfes are trapped in that town over there.”Bookmark here

“I know that. But the more we delay, the more these pesky northern barbarians would merge into a powerful force to counter our armies!” the emperor told him, “You already lost three of my best legions in Dawson Valley; do you really intend to waste my men’s lives?”Bookmark here

“M-My apologies, Your Imperial Majesty.” the general bowed.Bookmark here

“And who’s this person in the barbarian clothing?” the emperor then turned to Prince David.Bookmark here

“Crown Prince David of Amaranth, Your Imperial Highness.” he gave the elderly monarch the courtesy he deserved, “Though you’re my former enemy, we are now allies as long as we have common goals under the auspices of the Saint of the Flame.”Bookmark here

“Which is?”Bookmark here

“I also aim to protect Her Holiness the Great Saint of Chersea from this vile man, Sir Kuro.”Bookmark here

“Huh?” the emperor was bewildered, but General Benicci quickly whispered something to him, and he relented from lashing out, “I-In any case, Prince David of Amaranth, if you prove your loyalty to me, then I’d be more than glad to give back to you your lost throne.”Bookmark here

“I don’t deserve such generosity, Your Imperial Highness. Just the opportunity to protect Her Holiness is enough for me.”Bookmark here

“Well…” the emperor was awkwardly smiling, “Alright. Anyway, let’s get back to the matter of this council. General, you say that the coalition army was marching out to relieve the men in Huirot.”Bookmark here

“Yes, Your Imperial Majesty. We are now preparing to meet them.”Bookmark here

“Where?”Bookmark here

“Here, in Huirot.”Bookmark here

“No! I don’t want to wait for them here!” the emperor impatiently tapped his hand on the table, “You march out and meet them!”Bookmark here

“But Your Imperial Majesty…” a legionary officer spoke, “Our positions here in Huirot would be best suited for trapping and destroying the coalition army if they ever tried to attack us.”Bookmark here

Hah! You’ve been trounced by a mere commoner and now you cower behind the safety of your palisades?” the emperor scoffed at him, “Your ancestor must’ve been ashamed at your conduct!”Bookmark here

The Imperial expedition officers never uttered a reply after that dressing down. It was rather the prince of Amaranth who broke the ice.Bookmark here

“Your Imperial Majesty…”Bookmark here

“Yes?”Bookmark here

“I agree with your men.” The crown prince backed them up, “Huirot is a good place to entrap our enemies. But if you wish, I believe I have a plan for this scenario.”Bookmark here

“And I believe an Amaranthine prince should only be concerned with his own forces, Your Highness.” A legionary officer from the emperor’s party replied, “We have our own affairs here, see?”Bookmark here

“Commander, let the barbarian speak.” the emperor rebuked the officer, “He’s a member of the Amaranthine royal family, so stop with these kinds of words.”Bookmark here

The officer was surprised by that rebuke from his monarch and had to back down. The emperor declared, “I don’t care if you’re Amaranthine or an Imperial, what I wanted is someone brave enough to confront these northern barbarians when the opportunity is presenting itself!”Bookmark here

“Ah yes…” General Benicci then presented to the emperor the reports from his spies, “These just came in, and the prince and I had already read it.”Bookmark here

As if on cue, the crown prince then laid out his plans, “Based on the reports gathered by the spies in Stadtsberg, this so-called ‘Holy Coalition’ was hampered by the few numbers of their men. As a result, they had to rely on mercenaries to bolster their ranks. Aside from the Fist of the North Lands, the over-all leadership of this group belongs to the Iron Princess of Nerfes, Princess Lilyhaven—a maid of Her Holiness, Lady Madelaine.”Bookmark here

“So we’re fighting Her Holiness the Great Saint of Chersea all along!” the other officers remarked.Bookmark here

“Well, yes…” Prince David replied, “But please understand that she’s being manipulated by this ‘Fist of the North Lands’, Sir Kuro. And he was an agent of the demons. The Saint of the Flame told me this information before…”Bookmark here

“Goodness! So, we’re right to attack these northern barbarians and try to save Her Holiness!”Bookmark here

General Benicci remained silent, yet he was laughing to himself.Bookmark here

“Yes.” Prince David lay out his plans, “Now that His Imperial Majesty the Emperor is demanding that we take the initiative in the battlefield, this will be our strategy. We’ll bait the coalition forces here in Huirot by flanking and attacking the other villages, and if we could threaten the capital, then it’s all good. Then, once they come here, we’ll surround them and eliminate the Nerfes-Savoian army and coalition forces in one strike.”Bookmark here

“And the other kingdoms? What if they suddenly intervened?”Bookmark here

“That’s why we’re attacking Savoy, where we could threaten Nerfes, the Holy Palatial Gardens, and the city-state of Stadtsberg. We’ll leave a defending force in the northern and western Amaranth, so they couldn’t outflank us while we’re busy here. The fate of humanity hangs in the balance here in Savoy.”Bookmark here

The emperor stood up from his chair, “I like that strategy, Your Highness! Please proceed with that.”Bookmark here

“But Your Imperial Majesty…” It was General Benicci, “For this to work, we’ll need more men.”Bookmark here

“More men? Didn’t you lose two legions already?”Bookmark here

“My liege, though I made irreplaceable mistakes in the past…” General Benicci humbled himself, “Things are now different from the crown prince around. I suggest you make him my co-commander if that so satisfies your honor. I only request that you let me regain my name, Your Imperial Majesty.”Bookmark here

“Fine then. With both of you in command, I’ll give you four more legions.” The emperor gestured for an orderly to bring him a quill and paper, “Make sure you’ll deliver the victory you promised, or I’ll have your head on the pike, Umberto.”Bookmark here

“As you wish, Sire.”Bookmark here

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Meanwhile, Huirot was a small town, originally a small village merely ten seasons ago. Starting out as a resting place for merchant caravans going to Amaranth through the forests of Devyere-Savoy, it was given special attention by a previous duke after it became an outpost for his soldiers protecting the trade routes. A defensive palisade was built in Huirot that was later upgraded into a stone wall. Its location as the ‘gateway’ to the west gave it a prominent position in the duchy’s economy.Bookmark here

However, like Devyere, Huirot was pretty isolated compared to the rest of Savoy. Mountain ranges shield the northern side of the town. Thick forest almost surrounded it, with a little clearing allowance on the approaches of the town proper. The only contact to Savoy was the caravan path to the east, and the borders of Amaranth lies to the west.Bookmark here

It was because of these factors that the combined armies of Nerfes and Savoy made their stand here, after their defeat in the Battle of the Savoian Forest. Determined to hold back the Imperial invasion, they thought they held the advantage in a strategic location.Bookmark here

They were proven wrong.Bookmark here

“Enemy approaching from the east!”Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

Indeed, much to the defenders’ horror, another Imperial army had appeared to the east of Huirot. This one, like the forces to their west, was also felling trees to make siege equipment. And beyond them, they could faintly make out of a large column of legionnaires marching towards the undefended countryside of Savoy.Bookmark here

“We’ve been surrounded, and an army is marching to the east!” a military officer cried out, “We should try to break out as soon as possible!”Bookmark here

“That would be in vain.” the 2nd Prince of the kingdom of Nerfes, Simon Hugh Reed, answered as he hobbled along the defensive wall in a cane, “Look at those numbers; the escape path to the east was already blocked, and their numbers fill the road. If you think you could get past through them, then you’re only irresponsibly wasting the lives of your men.”Bookmark here

“But if we stay here, eventually, we’d die all the same.”Bookmark here

“Well, if we break out, we’ll surely be dead.” Simon argued, “However, if we stay here, we could wait for reinforcements from the coalition. And if they attack us, we’d bleed them dry.”Bookmark here

“What should we do now, Your Highness?”Bookmark here

“Call up all the men, including the townspeople. Tell them to defend their lands and arm them with every weapon available in this town. Don’t ask if these Imperials would attack or not; the only question is when.”Bookmark here

“But Sir, are you really sure that the coalition armies are going to our relief?”Bookmark here

“Yes.” was Simon’s confident reply, “There were people there whom I trust, and I know they won’t abandon us to our fates.”Bookmark here

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On March 7, the coalition contingent relieving the besieged forces of Nerfes and Savoy departed for Huirot. Maddie knew of the town; however, the council of war, led by Lily and Kuro, decided not to use her teleportation spell this time, for there’s that issue…Bookmark here

“Kuro, the scouts have reported that the Imperial bastards and their Amaranthine allies reached the town of Gebrei!”Bookmark here

Kuro took out a map and studied it. Gebrei was a fortified town near the Savoian capital of Jeveneria, and according to Griffyth, it served as a point of defense in case the enemy armies reached the region. Much of its surroundings was a wide, grassy plain, with the forest leading to Huirot placed on its southwestern point.Bookmark here

The west and northwest (where the coalition came) had hills covered with trees and light fog, with the only road connecting Gebrei to Stadtsberg cutting through the valley below. It was a good ambush spot, and Kuro made a note of it on the map. Intelligence reports showed it was a different army that invaded Savoy from the south, bypassing the defenders from Huirot, and rendering their stand useless.Bookmark here

“Maybe they had reached Savoy via the sea, you know, like your plan,” Griffyth suggested.Bookmark here

“Well, by maneuvering from the south, and bottling up the Nerfes-Savoian army at Huirot with some of their legions…” Kuro explained, “The Imperial armies are free to capture Jeveneria with little resistance.”Bookmark here

In fact, it was for that reason that forced the coalition to send Lily back to the Holy Palatial Gardens to organize the defenses there, for it was only common sense that after capturing Savoy, Imperial forces were sure to head to that holy place to invade it.Bookmark here

Jessica’s statement about her secret meeting with her brother confirmed their suspicions. And she was pleading them to spare his life; for she knew that when he told her the enemies’ plans, his sympathies still lie with the north Cherseans than the Imperials…Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

…though he may seem to cooperate with their enemies.Bookmark here

To the west of Amaranth, the royalist rebels gave the coalition valuable information that there were some of their peers who surrendered and threw their lot on the Imperials after the Crown Prince David was revealed to be alive, and had sided with their Imperial opponents…Bookmark here

“Dude, your plan seemed to have gone down the drain.” Griffyth commented, “Just as when we thought it was going smoothly…”Bookmark here

“Well, that strategy was based on the presumption that we’re quick to move and gather forces.” Kuro told him, “It will bring a fast conclusion to the conflict, should all the phases of it were followed to the dot.”Bookmark here

“So, what’s our plan now?” he asked, “We got 5,000 men marching with us—including Stephan, Kevin, and Winters’ groups, against two legions and several auxiliary forces attacking Gebrei. And after that, another two legions were operating in the Huirot area. The possibility of reinforcements is not included in that assessment, but it is likely to happen.”Bookmark here

“How many of our allies were standing in Gebrei?”Bookmark here

“The reports say there were around 20 knights and a couple thousand of levies. Most of the armed men of Savoy were with the Nerfes-Savoian army that was holed-up in Huirot.”Bookmark here

Hmm…we’re still outnumbered, huh?Bookmark here

“So, what’s our plan, Kuro? We could turn back to Stadtsberg and ask for more reinforcements or head to the Holy Palatial Gardens to conduct the defense there, and then from there launch a counter-offensive if the opportunity presents itself.”Bookmark here

“I’d like to do those; however, time is of the essence. We need to relieve the town of Huirot to show the Cherseans that siding with the Human Saint is the right option.” Kuro replied, “And also, we don’t know for how long the men in Huirot can hold out, more so if they can repel an assault from the Imperials. Remember, their leaders are injured or dead.”Bookmark here

“What’s on your mind?”Bookmark here

“We attack.”Bookmark here

Huh? With these numbers?” Griffyth had a bewildered expression on his face.Bookmark here

“We’re really outnumbered, so the more we should conduct an aggressive offensive to offset our disadvantage.” Kuro laughed, “Actually, when you think about it, it works to our advantage, see?”Bookmark here

“How?”Bookmark here

“Let’s show ourselves to them and then do a retreat to Stadtsberg.”Bookmark here

“Aren’t we doing a suicide here?”Bookmark here

“Precisely. Now think you’re the Imperial commander, how would you think about it?”Bookmark here

“Well, if I’m the Imperial commander, I’d think you’re scared to fight.”Bookmark here

“And?”Bookmark here

“Of course, I’ll run after and kill you when I catch you. It’s a pretty pathetic scenario, actually.”Bookmark here

“Didn’t you just underestimate me?”Bookmark here

“Oh!” Griffyth panicked, “Uh…no, sorry for that.”Bookmark here

“No, you did exactly what I wanted you to think! You underestimated me.”Bookmark here

“And how…oh…OH!” Griffyth suddenly had a realization, “Isn’t that those who underestimate their enemies get stung in the end?”Bookmark here

“Right on track. Listen, Griff, get some of your men in disguise. Make banners and ensure that there’d be more than enough for them. Then, see those hills? Deploy them there and have everyone plant a flag at a fixed interval, and make sure the Imperials would see it at the last minute.”Bookmark here

“Is this another one of your ‘Cannae’s?’Bookmark here

Hmm…well, it isn’t.” Kuro smirked, “But all the same, we’ll be fighting the Imperials with inferior numbers.”Bookmark here

Heh…I’m really glad I’m alive to see this,” Griffyth uttered.Bookmark here

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***The Imperial headquarters near Huirot***Bookmark here

“General!” a legionnaire burst into the Imperial war council tent, and disturbed Umberto from reading his reports, “The ‘Holy Coalition’ army was spotted in Gebrei earlier and was retreating towards Stadtsberg!” He gave him a couple of papers, which the general immediately read.Bookmark here

“Quick!” Umberto stood up and fixed his uniform, “Summon the other nobles and officers.”Bookmark here

The orderly obeyed and disappeared from the room. Soon enough, the members of the Imperial War Council appeared one by one and took their respective places on the table.Bookmark here

“I guess the plan worked too well.” an Imperial officer commented once the meeting started, “Now the coalition army was retreating.”Bookmark here

“Why are they retreating now?”Bookmark here

“Well…” Umberto finally spoke, “The scouts of the army in Gebrei reported that the coalition forces had only a few men in it, estimated around 5,000 people.”Bookmark here

“What about Kuro?” It was Prince David who asked.Bookmark here

“No, there was no mention of a black-haired man with that army.”Bookmark here

Hmm…this is strange.” Prince David pondered, “That man was their greatest commander, and yet they won’t send him here?”Bookmark here

“Maybe he was sent back to the Holy Palatial Gardens to command the defenses there.” Umberto suggested, “We should pursue those people. Fewer enemies mean fewer people to fight if this war is prolonged.”Bookmark here

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Prince Benicci.” the crown prince countered, “Maybe Sir Kuro was nearby, and that retreat was a ruse designed to lure us into another ‘Devyere’.”Bookmark here

“Your Highness and I believe that, when an opportunity presents itself, we grab it.” Umberto argued, “If that man was sent to the Holy Palatial Gardens to command there, by all means, it’s a sin to let this chance to destroy the other coalition armies pass.”Bookmark here

“And what about if Sir Kuro was with that army and was only hiding?”Bookmark here

“We divide the men into several groups and send them in by batches so that if there’s an ambush, we could come to help them.”Bookmark here

“Fair enough.” Prince David then headed out, “I’ll ride ahead to take command of the men we sent ahead in Gebrei.”Bookmark here

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Quite a distance from the field, Seirna observed from a tree as the coalition and Imperial armies prepared for their battle. She was smiling, for she was happy now that the conflict in Chersea was flaring up once again. Her plan was being set in motion.Bookmark here

Seirna couldn’t help but remember the time when the former god of Chersea, Lord Gaius, entrusted to her the well-being of humanity. His voice rung inside her heart as if it happened just recently…Bookmark here

“Seirna, humans are destined to be great beings worthy of the gods. Please guide them through the ages.”Bookmark here

Oh…Lord Gaius!” she exclaimed in ecstasy, “If you could only see this!”Bookmark here

The Imperial army was preparing their defenses west of Gebrei, whereas the coalition army led by Kuro himself was marching towards the town from the northwest. From her viewpoint, Seirna could tell that the coalition forces were outnumbered by the Imperials and their Amaranthine allies.Bookmark here

“I’m really having a good time watching this. Whoever wins, soon, the humans would have a powerful army to fight against the demons…” she was thrilled, “Lord Gaius, your vision for Chersea is closer than ever before, and the human saint doesn’t even know her servant’s taking part in it!”Bookmark here

Seirna’s attention then focused on Kuro. She was impressed that this man, though he may be a commoner, could actually pull-off impossible feats to his favor, using only his head. Not only that, his innovations in Chersea had already reached her ears, like the hourglass and the demon weapons in human warfare.Bookmark here

Ah…it’s a waste to let him die!” she bemoaned, “It’s a good thing I didn’t kill him immediately back then. He could really be of use in Chersea’s future…”Bookmark here

The Saint of the Flame then looked towards Huirot, where another group of Imperial legions was coming up to Gebrei to reinforce their comrades there.Bookmark here

Oh? Looks like the coalition’s in a pinch. Let’s see how Kuro would do against these legions…”Bookmark here

And then an idea came into Seirna’s mind. Smiling, she went down from the tree and headed towards the approaching legionnaires led by the general Umberto Benicci.Bookmark here

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The hills to the west of Gebrei were full of coalition flags fluttering in the wind when the Imperial reconnaissance units saw them. The Imperials, under the unlikely leadership of the Prince David of Amaranth, were aware of the craftiness of their enemy, and so they only risked a few men in case it was another ambush.Bookmark here

However, soon the scouts returned to the Imperial camp unscathed, reporting their finds.Bookmark here

“You say that the hills were filled with banners to prove that the coalition armies actually possessed large numbers of men?” the crown prince doubted his reconnaissance units’ report, “It could be a ruse design to lure us to a pitched battle.”Bookmark here

“You mean, they wanted us to think that they have larger numbers than what we saw earlier?” a fellow Amaranthine military officer asked him.Bookmark here

“It could be.” Prince David told him, “In any case, be prepared. You know the drill, send outposts to the west and northwest, and deploy sentries to watch for any movements. But also, don’t forget the north and east of the town. They might outwit us there.”Bookmark here

“As you wish, Your Highness!”Bookmark here

An Imperial army officer then asked him, “Your Highness, how about we assault the wall of Gebrei now? Our preparations are about two-thirds complete already.”Bookmark here

“No. We couldn’t risk it. Our numbers may be enough to assault the town, but if the coalition moves in conjunction with our offensive, they could turn the battle against us.” Prince David explained, “Sir Kuro’s a cunning commander, so we have to be cautious. We’ll wait for the reinforcements from Huirot before making any moves.”Bookmark here

“Yes Sir, as you wish!”Bookmark here

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***At the coalition camp…***Bookmark here

“Looks like the Imperials never took our bait,” Kuro muttered as he watched the horizon for any sizable enemy force after they deliberately showed themselves at Gebrei.Bookmark here

“Yes.” The commander of the Golden Territory Warriors, Stephan, agreed, “Looks like they remained encamped outside the town.”Bookmark here

“So, what do you plan now?” Griffyth asked.Bookmark here

“We go to plan B.” was Kuro’s answer, “Hold these hills for now.”Bookmark here

Hoh? That’s just strange coming from you.” Griffyth commented, “I thought we’re going to attack?”Bookmark here

“Well, yes. We’ll hold our positions here, and attack them as well.” Kuro called out to Winters, “Hey, Winters! How’s the preparation going?”Bookmark here

“It’s all done, Sir Kuro!” he answered back.Bookmark here

“The traps?” the captain of the Oaklyn Bets, Kevin, asked.Bookmark here

Kuro was smiling, “That, and something else…”Bookmark here

Ooh…what do you got there for these Imperials.” Griffyth was trying to prod him for answers.Bookmark here

“You’ll see.” Kuro winked at him, “Standby at our hourglass, we move by 11 pm. Kevin, you take your men to defend our path of retreat, should things take turn for the worse. Winters will wait here until the signal. Griff, Steph, you’re with me.”Bookmark here

“Alright.” The mercenary leaders agreed with Kuro’s plan.Bookmark here

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True enough, by 11 pm, an hour just after the official ‘long sleep’, the coalition army led by Kuro, Griffyth, and Stephan moved towards the camp of the Imperials in Gebrei.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

As a precaution to an attack, while most of them were asleep, the Imperials created several ‘outposts’ from their main camp, which was besieging the Savoian town.Bookmark here

It was an effective tactic to deter creeping sudden attacks. Besides that, sentries were placed all around the area in the west and northwest of Gebrei, watchful for any sign of movement. The site was pretty easy to watch anyway, for it was a wide grassland clearing with a good view of the approaches to Gebrei and Jeveneria.Bookmark here

But of course, the site was not without its flaws.Bookmark here

“The view of our positions from here seems nice.” Griffyth laughed as he tried to take measurements from their point of origin to their destination, “I can’t even see a single flag from this distance.”Bookmark here

“Well, we’re pretty far off from the hills.” Kuro replied, “This is the eastern side of Gebrei after all.”Bookmark here

Using the trees to the edge of the fields of Gebrei as cover, the coalition marched eastward from their western positions to flank the Imperial legions besieging the town.Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

Just as we were nearing Gebrei, we heard a loud trumpet blast from the enemy camp.Bookmark here

“Sir Kuro, we’ve been detected!” Stephan exclaimed, “Those are some foragers escaping!”Bookmark here

“Kill them, quick!” Kuro bellowed.Bookmark here

“Demons out!” Griffyth’s order was quick; his men immediately brought out their rifles.Bookmark here

“Griff no—” Kuro tried to stop them, but…Bookmark here

“FIRE!”Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

At once, loud bangs echoed from their spot and across the entire field of Gebrei. Three Imperial and Amaranthine foragers went down, while another one escaped back to the Imperial lines.Bookmark here

“Great!” Griffyth exclaimed, “Now he’ll warn them of our presence.”Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, Griff.” Kuro patted his shoulder, “Your guns already woke them up, so that won’t be necessary.”Bookmark here

“Yep. Get ready for battle.” Stephan said as he pointed towards the Imperials assembling to meet them, “Looks like they’ve been expecting us.”Bookmark here

Someone then shouted, “Incoming!”Bookmark here

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Kuro’s contingent of 2,000 men quickly deployed their magical barriers to fend off the physical and magical projectiles. And then, once the bombardment was over, they immediately formed their own battle lines, just as the enemy marched towards them with swords and shields were drawn.Bookmark here

“Here comes, the legion boys!” Griffyth cried out, “Demons out!”Bookmark here

The Band of the Oak pulled out their guns once again and pointed those on the Imperials, who were marching in close formation.Bookmark here

“Fire!” was his thunderous command. The mercenaries followed and a thick smoke generated by the burning gunpowder obscured the coalition’s line of sight. However, every one of them could still hear the marching feet of the legionnaires getting nearer to their location.Bookmark here

“Come on, guys! Hurry and load those weapons!” Griffyth urged them, “Don’t slack off, or you’ll be dead soon!”Bookmark here

Kuro watched them as they hurried to put in the bullet, shake off the gunpowder into the barrel, prime their gun hammers, and train their weapons into the enemy. It was a process that gave their enemies several paces of ground before being able to complete it. Good thing Stephan’s men were quick to engage the Imperials so that they could shield Griffyth’s gunners from the melee.Bookmark here

“Griff!” Kuro cried out, “That’s not how you use that weapon in formations!”Bookmark here

“Hah? But it was effective when we’re fighting in Bere River!”Bookmark here

“We’re skirmishing back then so I didn’t notice.” Kuro explained, “In any case, let me command them. Watch and train your men to do this, soon!”Bookmark here

Griffyth stepped aside as Kuro took charge of his mercenaries, co-led by Gats. Meanwhile, Tarasca and his magicians were busy protecting their comrades while they were loading their weapons.Bookmark here

“Listen boys!” he looked at the gunners, showing his weapon to them, “This is how you kill using this matchlock gun—the demon weapon! Everyone’s eyes and guns to the front!”Bookmark here

They followed, and then Kuro shouted to Griffyth, “Pull back Stephan’s men!”Bookmark here

Griffyth did as Kuro commanded, and soon Stephan’s mercenaries were racing back to the rear, with the Imperials rushing just behind them.Bookmark here

“As soon as you see the whites in the eyes of your enemies, shoot!” Kuro’s order thundered among the mercenary gunners, “Remember, you’re all the Saint’s Holy Army! Her best soldiers! Ready, aim!”Bookmark here

His words calmed the nerves of the mercenaries, who were tense and jumpy as they watched the Imperial juggernaut coming closer. They were the Saint’s Chosen, and with her blessing, they’d conquer!Bookmark here

“FIRE!”Bookmark here

The sound of explosions almost tore Kuro’s eardrums, for he stood too close to the gunners. Their effective volley fire shredded a considerable number of the legionnaires at their front. It caused the Imperial line to pause for a bit, in shock because of the power of the musket bullets to punch through their shield and armor.Bookmark here

Like a mindless wall, soon they resumed their advance at a steady pace.Bookmark here

“Fix your bayonets!” Kuro called out to Griffyth’s men, demonstrating it on his own weapon, “Let’s gut these fuckers alive!”Bookmark here

“Rrrraaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrggghhhhhh!!!”Bookmark here

Soon the battle lines were joined in close-quarters. Blades and bayonets clashed. Swords and spears parried one another. And men were falling on the ground, only to be stepped upon by their comrades and enemies alike.Bookmark here

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Prince David watched from his command tent as the Imperial legionnaires clashed with the coalition forces. So far, his plan had worked, placing sentries in the eastern and northern side of Gebrei as well.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Though the Imperial officers thought of this as stupid—they claimed it is impossible to flank them since it would take a long time to go from west to east and would have to go through their camp, he surmised Kuro would do a flanking maneuver to attack them from behind.Bookmark here

Without the advantage of ruse and trickery, the Imperial legions could square it off against the inferior coalition infantry. After all, only the soldiers from Nerfes could properly square it off with the legionnaires, and that’s if their numbers were on equal terms…Bookmark here

“Sire, the Royal Guards are ready at your command.” his orderly whispered to him.Bookmark here

Prince David had a smile on his face as he stood up. Aside from the prowess of the Imperial legionnaires, the cavalry of the Amaranthine Royal Guards was another force to reckon with on their side. As Kuro was busy fighting the legionnaires, the crown prince planned to surround them with his own Royal Guards and annihilate the coalition army in one sweep.Bookmark here

Fixing his sword on his waist, David von Albert of Amaranth gave the order, “Prepare your lances. We ride those coalition bastards down!”Bookmark here

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***On the other side of the outskirts of Gebrei…***Bookmark here

On the western face of the town, it was relatively quiet. The town defenders never dared to venture out of their defensive walls, for fear that the Imperials would defeat the small coalition army fighting outside.Bookmark here

Likewise, the legionnaire auxiliaries that were left guarding the western and northwestern flanks for the Imperials had it quite easy. The front was quiet, as all the action was going on at the eastern side of Gebrei.Bookmark here

“That’s it, they’re done for, those coalition idiots.” a sentry told his companion, “Damn those legionnaires, they always get the action.”Bookmark here

“Isn’t it good for us?” his buddy asked, “I mean, the less exposure to battle, the lesser the risk?”Bookmark here

“Well, of course…if you plan to live forever.”Bookmark here

“What? There’s no shame in wishing to be safe! No one wants to die early!”Bookmark here

Tch. If you always wish for that, you’d find no glory!” the sentry moved away from his friend.Bookmark here

“Heh…glory is just temporary. After all, I plan to get married after this campaign.”Bookmark here

“Don’t go near me; I might get your coward’s sickness!!!”Bookmark here

“Coward sickness? Well, it’s—” The other sentry could not finish his statement as his neck suddenly got slashed by an unseen enemy, much to the shock of his ‘courageous’ companion.Bookmark here

“!!!” the brave sentry tried to fight back the cloaked attacker, but he didn’t have a chance. The cloaked girl was quick to silence him with a dagger in his throat.Bookmark here

The auxiliaries’ camp suddenly came alive, when someone shouted, “Enemies up ahead!” Soon, they heard hooves galloping towards their positions, as the lookouts began seeing horsemen charging in their direction.Bookmark here

“Where did they come from? I thought the enemy is at the eastern side?” the Imperial auxiliaries scrambled to get themselves ready for battle.Bookmark here

The first wave of enemy cavalry made a short work of the few first outposts and killed everyone inside. Then, the second wave charged past the first wave to crash into the almost prepared Imperial battle line.Bookmark here

“Brace for the charge!”Bookmark here

The auxiliaries grit their teeth just as they were about to receive the brunt of the coalition cavalry’s charge, led by the captain of the ‘Band of Brothers and Sisters’ mercenary group, Dickenson Winters. However…Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

An explosion suddenly tore through the lines of the Imperial auxiliaries. Blood and gore flew in the air and were received by their shocked comrades. It created a hole in their defense, at which the Imperials could not react on time. Not missing the opportunity, Winters and his horsemen crashed and cut the men who survived the explosion, brought about by the timed gunpowder bomb planted by Griffyth’s assistant, Kashca.Bookmark here

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Kuro, there’s cavalry bearing down on us!” was the shocking revelation from Griffyth just as when they were hard-pressed against the Imperials, “I think it’s a royal contingent of the Amaranthine prince!”Bookmark here

“Prince David?”Bookmark here

“The Amaranthine crown prince?” Griffyth confirmed, “I guess it’s his banner!”Bookmark here

“Where’s Winters?” Kuro asked.Bookmark here

“He hasn’t appeared just yet! But by this time, he should’ve attacked the other side!” Griffyth said as he looked at the hourglass they brought along.Bookmark here

Damn it!” Kuro could only curse, “I think we’re screwed!”Bookmark here

“Well, it’s also the first time I heard you say that!”Bookmark here

Kuro then looked around and found Tarasca and his magicians, who were also hard-pressed from trying to keep up the magical barrier preventing the rain of arrows and magic spells on the coalition forces.Bookmark here

“Tarasca!” he called the magician’s attention, “Leave the barriers to your men. I want you to hurry and carry a message.”Bookmark here

“To whom?”Bookmark here

“Go to Arles, east from here. Find a man named Sir Osmond and tell him to send help to me as soon as possible. Add that, I’d give him a pair of Eris’ underwear if he spared me some men.”Bookmark here

“Huh?” the mercenary had a bewildered expression on his face.Bookmark here

“Well, it’s an emergency, so I couldn’t help it.”Bookmark here

“Alright?”Bookmark here

“If you could continue further into the Holy Palatial Gardens, please do so. We’ll try our best to hold out until you arrive.”Bookmark here

Tarasca agreed and cast a wind spell on his feet. Without a second’s waste, he sped off towards Arles. Kuro gathered men who could still wield a spear, or a gun with a bayonet.Bookmark here

It’s time for Chersea to witness a tercio formation…Bookmark here

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The Battle of Gebrei raged as hotly as ever. The Imperials, buoyed by their numbers and able leadership of the Prince David of Amaranth, fought the coalition infantry, composed of a motley crew of mostly mercenaries, and some north Chersean soldiers led by Kuro. In the contest for battlefield prowess and duration, the legionnaires won back their fearsome reputation.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Only Kuro’s wits were keeping the coalition armies from falling apart.Bookmark here

“Spearmen! Take your spears and form a modified shield wall!” he ordered, “Gunners, stand in front of the spears and fire on my command. After shooting, retreat to the rear. The second line goes forward and shoots!”Bookmark here

The well-rested reserves agreed and formed their lines, as the men of Stephan’s group held back the furious assaults of the legionnaires and the royal Amaranthine guard cavalry. The coalition’s formation resembled a huge square, with a space in the middle, spearmen in the inner parts, and the gunners on the outer square.Bookmark here

“Stephan!” Kuro shouted, “Tell your men to retreat!”Bookmark here

The mercenary captain was thankful for the relief, for him and his men had been battling the Imperials for quite a while now. In fact, his unit was nearly depleted of capable men. Along with the remnant of his army, Stephan dashed back toward the square Kuro formed.Bookmark here

“FIRE!” was his thunderous command once Stephan’s mercenaries could fall back in safer positions to rest. The Imperials once again followed them in a closer formation, with the royal guards charging on the flanks. A considerable number of legionnaires fell before the second line of gunners went to the front to discharge their bullets.Bookmark here

“Spearmen to the front!” Griffyth gave an order once he saw the Amaranthine royal guards going for the square’s left flank. Immediately, the gunners on that side retreated to the rear while the spearmen went forward to counter the charge.Bookmark here

“FIRE!” Another line of legionnaires fell. The space between the gunners and the Imperials was nearly a yard away. The Imperial legionnaires’ discipline was breathtaking as well as terrible to behold, for they kept on marching at a steady pace, though they saw many of their comrades fall from the hail of bullets.Bookmark here

Kuro finally ordered the spearmen forward while the gunners retreat towards the center.Bookmark here

“!!!” At that point, the legionnaires broke into a charge and attacked the forest of spears trained on them.Bookmark here

“Attack those bastards!” Stephan and his men, though they were still half-exhausted, roused from their rests, and flanked the Imperials on their left. The close combat took long, but then the Imperials broke and retreat to their original lines.Bookmark here

On Griffyth’s side, the royal cavalry nearly smashed the spear wall of Kuro’s tercio, had it not for the timely intervention of the gunners with fixed bayonets on their matchlocks. While the spearmen killed the Amaranthine horses, the bayonet-armed gunners would go in for the kill of the fallen horseman, for it would be difficult if the knight could get back to his feet.Bookmark here

The bloody battle raged for a while, and the ground surrounding Kuro’s tercio formation was dyed red on the blood that was being shed. Though they held off the Imperial assaults for a while, it’s been clear to Kuro, Griffyth, and Stephan that their men were exhausted, and would break any moment now that the legionnaires launch a determined attack…Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

…which began once again!Bookmark here

Kuro prepared for the worst. After making sure that his dagger was with him, he uttered a silent prayer before leading his men to an all-out defense.Bookmark here

“The Fist is with us!” the coalition chanted to raise their spirits, “The Fist is with us!” Their shouts also raised Kuro’s morale, which was wavering under the intense pressure. Raising his gun in the air, he let out a battle-cry…Bookmark here

“Stand your ground! We will conquer!”Bookmark here

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The Imperials knew that the coalition army was badly mauled and exhausted because of their relentless attacks. They were also incurring high casualties, nevertheless, after the debacles in Devyere, Bere River, and Dawson Valley, the Imperials could almost taste a major victory over the opponents who killed a good number of their own men.Bookmark here

They knew that there would be no mercy. The crown prince of Amaranth, David von Albert’s order was clear: “Take no prisoners! Attack!”Bookmark here

The legionnaires resumed their push and hoped that it was the final offensive.Bookmark here

However…Bookmark here

“Enemy cavalry to the rear!”Bookmark here

“!!!”Bookmark here

At that moment, Prince David and the other officers of the Imperial legions were horrified to witness the coalition cavalry, led by Captain Winters, charging from behind them, as if in frenzied rage. The first lines of the Imperial legionnaire to the rear were caught unaware, for they were too focused on fighting the coalition infantry to their front.Bookmark here

And then the cavalry fanned out, with most of them targeting the Imperial commanders, standing at the back. It was a fast contest; the Imperial commanders tried to put up a gallant yet desperate fight. However, being separated from their men, they could only do so much.Bookmark here

Those who tried to run were chased and cut down. Panic struck the legionnaires as they scrambled to turn around their formations to meet the enemy’s surprise attack.Bookmark here

“The front is also on the move!”Bookmark here

However, not to be left behind, Kuro’s tercio also moved, this time with the gunners leading and shooting at the Imperials. Many units surrendered and were led off the battlefield.Bookmark here

Prince David, though initially paralyzed in sheer surprise, was now laughing as he realized he was outwitted by his enemy, “You’re really a great man, Sir Kuro…I only wish that you take care of my sister.”Bookmark here

And with that, the crown prince gave up his command, pulled out his sword, and charged towards the coalition cavalry as confusion ruled the battlefield. He decided not to suffer shame twice, and soon his head was stuck on a lance.Bookmark here

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