Chapter 3:

A Devastating Blow, On The Brink of Despair!

Summoning Trebuchets To Survive A World At War!

It was less than a week from my 15th birthday. We were at a nearby crater that just happened to be discovered. Definitely have no idea how the crater appeared. Most certainly nothing to do with me. As for who we are, I referred to my unit. This secret training was to familiarize my unit with my skills while figuring out how my unit might best support me.

I summoned a trebuchet and loaded it with a large boulder while Medosa stood by me with tower shield in hand. Her role was simply to protect me from any attacks that might come my way. While not a champion, her training from a young age allowed her to carry heavy equipment. Normally, a shield bearer would use a kite shield, but given the dire situation, we decided that she would wield a tower shield until we gained enough ground to make horses actually viable.

Lucius stood behind us with the standard raised. While his role might seem unnecessary, the standard acted as a way to keep morale up as the commoner soldiers saw that their leaders still fought on. It did also make any unit with such a standard raised a target, but that only made the role even more important for raising morale among the troops.

I triggered the trebuchet and a massive boulder flew at the wall. A voice to the side shouted, “Trajectory correction, 5 short, 2 right.” That was Selena, our archer. Her role was twofold. First, during our charges, she would protect me be shooting down enemy archers. Second, when we set up a trebuchet, she would also act to help me correct my trajectory. 5 short meant we were 5 paces long and 2 right meant we were 2 paces to the left of the target. I quickly resummoned the trebuchet to aim slightly towards the right and adjusted the trebuchet to aim slightly lower, then fired again.

“Good effect.”

Of course, we had two other members of the unit, but they weren’t really involved in this training. Aceso, our field doctor, was busily practicing on a doll. Our supply carrier, Alkes, spent his time lifted rocks and launched them into the air and caught them repeatedly. It seemed he still had an inferiority complex about his strength compared to mine. Not that there was any point in comparing us. I was clearly a champion of extreme purity while he was just a normal person who trained hard.

I mean, imagine someone comparing a fly’s strength to a lion. There was just too much of a fundamental difference. That was just how abnormal champions were. We were like a freak accident. You had to wonder if we even came from the same world as everyone else.

We continued our training in earnest. With only days until my birthday, I wanted us ready for action. My unit knew as well as I did that I had every intent to run straight from the ceremony to the battlefield. In fact, they would be meeting me at the battlefield that day.

We had several horses ready for me to ride at full gallop. With that, I should be able to join midway into the day’s battle. While rather unorthodox, our situation was simply that desperate. No matter how much we focused on stalling on the two fronts, we were losing ground steadily. At this rate, it was only a matter of time before our general fell to High Empira’s forces.

Our fight against Opera was faring poorly as well. The general for that war front was fighting hard, but with our forces being so heavily impacted by the High Empira front, we needed to send all the forces we could spare to defend that front. Once I could join the front, I could push the High Empira forces back to buy us some time, then use that time to conquer the Opera front.

Just a few more days is all we needed. This only encouraged us to train harder, to focus better, to really improve all of our skills. We wanted to make my debut a complete turnaround to bolster falling morale as that would have a strong impact on both fronts.

Even now, I longed for the battlefield. It was so unfair that you needed to be an adult before you could fight in the war. If you were a strategist, you could do such work as long as you didn’t interfere with an ongoing battle. This meant they could plan outside of the battle times and without being of age.

Those like me who shone most on the battlefield itself needed to be of age to actually join. We were relatively helpless outside of the battlefield. That is why I fired boulder after boulder at the various targets we set up. That is why the seemingly disinterested voice kept correcting my trajectories.

Even so, sometimes just a hint of emotion crept into Selena’s voice. “Selena, keep your emotions in check.”, I cautioned Selena as a hint of a growl entered her voice. For Selena, this training was probably harsh given that she wasn’t really doing her supposed role as an archer. I continued to remind Selene of our goal, “Remember that our goal here is to train you to give corrections that won’t unnecessarily pressure our troops. A leader needs to stay calm and as one of my personal unit, I need you to also sound calm.”

Out of all of us, Selena had the hardest time controlling her emotions. She’d burst out picking a fight against the High Empira soldiers when we encountered them. One time, she almost threw a mug at a High Empira soldier. We barely managed to stop her in time. It was definitely the fault of the High Empira soldier that time, but that was no reason to take the risk.

Out of all of us, Selena’s had the greatest reason to hate High Empira as her brother had been killed early in the war. A common enough event in the war, but it sparked an extreme drive in Selena to train. So much so that she ended up as a top recommendation for my squad. Her archery skills alone were enough to merit the recommendation, but she showed prowess in other martial skill as well.

Still, at the end of the day, Selena was too emotional. When we trained, especially when things weren’t perfect, Selena’s voice would gain a growl to it. When talking about High Empira or even around High Imperials, her voice would speed up and grow in volume. Selena made these changes unconsciously, but I needed her to be aware of them.

Every now and then, a rock would go flying at us as Alkes flung rocks as part of our training. Even Aceso needed to deal with these rocks from time to time, grabbing the doll and rolling to safety with little time to react, dragging the doll out of harm’s way, or taking other actions to remain safe.

This acted as training for Medosa as well, protecting us from sudden harm while using a tower shield was surprisingly difficult. Tower shields were especially heavy and really not meant to be wielded. They were simply too heavy to maneuver easily, but even so, Medosa kept up.

As an aside, what was sort of frightening was that Alkes could launch a tower shield to Medosa from fairly far away. I sometimes had to check his hair for signs of red just to be certain he wasn’t secretly a champion. I know he trained almost constantly, but approaching champion levels of strength was just abnormal.

This was effectively our daily training, although we slowly ramped it up each day. Each day, we increased our speed and accuracy. At the start, it would take several tries to hit a mark, but now, I not only managed to summon them smoothly, but I would always be at least close to the mark even without Selena’s guidance. Selena’s guidance also improved similarly.

Although it was hard to tell, I knew that the others’ skills improved with training. Lucius could dodge fast projectiles without lowering the standard, and his voice projected well. If any other commander had him in their unit, he would be constantly in use. Unfortunately, I could shout loud enough by myself and hearing the voice of a commanding personnel did wonders for morale. This meant that Lucius voice ended up rather useless for battle. It didn’t hurt to work on it anyway.

Medosa practiced with enduring high speed turns, even to the point of breaking her bones due to the massive force and weight. Fortunately, with great medical care, we managed to fix the breakage quickly, but that had still taken several days. A major improvement over months it might have taken otherwise.

Still, the intense training did wonders for her body’s resilience as her bones somehow grew stronger. I don’t know how, but as she endured breaking her bones over and over, she seemed to break them less often despite her increasingly intense training. Not that I expected anyone to do the same as her. Medosa’s motivation to go to such extremes was a mystery to me, but it was definitely not normal to train to the point of shattering your bones.

One positive of Medosa’s absurd training was it doubles as training for Aceso. Aceso definitely knew how to best support the healing of broken bones with having it occur so frequently. Of course, with our debut coming up, I forbade Medosa from training to the point of injury. We couldn’t afford to lose any days waiting for her to recover.

We continued our training until the sun began to set. Aceso checked up on all of our conditions, performing aid as needed. We then decided to head back to town with some trivial chatter. We avoided any conversation that required secrecy in case someone happened to overhear.

As we approached the gates, a young man rushed to us and bowed deeply before speaking, “Lady Remee Au Firas, I am to inform you of dire news! Your brother, Nemo, has fallen in battle. The front is all but lost and the general requests your presence at your earliest convenience.”

<Huh? Nemo fell? The front is in such dire straits? Why now?>

I stood there for several moments, processing the news. I wasn’t particularly close to Nemo, but he was still my brother. More important was the news that the front was all but lost. The general knew that we needed to hold the front for just a few more days. I quickly dismissed the others and rushed to the general’s manor.

Taylor Victoria