Chapter 15:

The Defense of Fort Draun (part 1)

Painted Tale

William Arklight

Today is the day of the battle. The Horde is going to arrive at dawn, so we still have an hour or two left.

I'm walking through the hallways of the fortress. As I keep walking, I see a familiar face.

"Oh— Dad?"

I meet my dad.

Even though it's only been a little over 4 months since I last saw him, he has changed quite a bit. Since he is no longer burdened by the matters of The Domain, his face now doesn't have any signs of exhaustion. His cheeks are no longer sunken, and he seems to have gotten back his weight.

Noticing me, he raises his hand and calls out my name.

"Hey, Will. Still, I'm surprised you're participating in the war. You're the last person I expect to willingly go into a battle like this. You're the princess's attendant, so you could have just stuck with her and avoided fighting..."

"...I don't even know what I'm doing here myself. I just feel like I have no other choice but to try to win this war."

He looks at me closely as if trying to gauge my emotions.

After some time, he asks.

"...Something bothering you?"

"...Yeah. I don't even understand my own feelings."

"...Let's go to the courtyard. You need some fresh air."

"Eh? But the battle is—"

"There is still over an hour left. We can talk in the meantime."

I comply, and we head outside.

It's still dark since the dawn hasn't arrived yet.

We sit down on the grass and stare at the sky.

We stay silent for a couple of minutes, then Dad starts speaking.

"I can't help you with whatever is troubling you. I was never good enough with words to give people life advice or lecture them about something complicated. Hell, Even if I was, I have failed at so many things that my advice would be completely worthless. I didn't keep Edward safe, didn't help you when you felt down, and failed at maintaining our house's territories."

He tightly clenches his fist, and his voice is filled with bitterness and regret.

"And yet. I'm still here. I'm still fighting in this war, trying to protect my loved ones. Your life will inevitably be filled with many regrets, and I doubt the shallow words of your father will do anything to change that. So I will say this right now. Everyone falls down in their lives— it's all about what happens after that. It's all about whether or not you can get back up. I'm sure you already know that. I've witnessed you try your best again and again. That's why this is not a lesson. This is simply a reminder that everyone sometimes needs in their lives. You might fail once again in the future, but it is never too late to get up."

He pauses and smiles as he looks at me with warmth in his eyes.

"William. You might not know what the future might bring. You might not even know what you want your future to look like. But. There is only one thing you can do. Walk forward, William. Regardless of what you want, you won't get it if the upcoming battle will be lost. Don't think of those problems— just focus on what's in front of you. Fight and do everything you can to win. Answers can be found after that."

He says that and stands up, preparing to walk away.

"Oh, by the way. Nora told me that she can't wait to see you marry. When I asked her if you have someone special, she told me it is a secret. Do you have your eye on some girl?"

I was slightly shocked at that. Mom has never even seen me together with Elisabeth. She only talked with Elisabeth. How the hell did she find out about my feelings?

Regardless of that, there is like no chance I will end up together with Elisabeth. She is a princess, and I'm not even a noble anymore.

That's why I decide to break his hopes of seeing his son get married any time soon.

"Not really. You know how I am. I'm too busy worrying about myself, let alone anyone else."

"Hmm... That's weird. Your mother is sharp towards people's emotions, so I was sure she wouldn't make a mistake..."

"...Well, I better stop this topic here so that you won't be rendered incapacitated before the battle..."

"Eh? What does that even mean? Will? Hey Will!?"

I leave towards the place where my squad is stationed, hearing his voice calling me from behind...

Elisabeth Renoa

I stand at the balcony, located at the top of the fort's keep. I can see the entire fortress from here.

I stare at the horizon, waiting for The Horde to appear.

My role in this battle is to provide everyone with strengthening magic. It is basically our only chance of winning this.

I have to do my best. I have to keep up the magic until the battle is over.

Will I be able to? I've never kept it up for longer than an hour. Is it even possible? I've also never applied it to so many people.

Four thousand. Can I even cast a spell powerful enough to cover all of the soldiers?

I don't know. I don't know, but—

—I have no choice. I have to try.

I can only pray that this battle won't drag out. Otherwise...

I didn't finish that thought.

As I keep looking at the horizon, I see the sun, showing its first rays.

And there, illuminated by the sun—

—is a horde of monsters.

The battle begins.

William Arklight

I can hear the cries of monsters as they approach the fortress. The ground seems to shake as they get closer to the fort.

I start making my way through the crowd of soldiers and get to the edge of the wall. Finally, I make my way there and look forward.

I gasp.

An army of monsters fills up my sight. The ground is overrun by black silhouettes, a mass of something making its way to us. Not just on earth — the skies as well. Hundreds of creatures fill up the horizon. I can see several griffons among them.

I shudder at the upcoming Horde and think back on the task my squad was left with.

As His Excellency was afraid of attacks from the mountain, he wanted to place the most reliable squads to the northern part of the wall. Namely — mine squad. That damn old man is abusing me to the fullest. There are also a few big squads placed into the northern part of the inner courtyard. They're meant to take down the monsters we miss or the ones that plan to descend right into the inside of the fortress.

While I keep thinking The Horde has already gotten close to the walls. They're now in the shooting range.

I begin hearing the squad captains' voices resounding all over the wall. I follow their lead and make an order to my own unit.

"Archers and mages! Fire at will at the flying monsters! Infantry! Prepare the throwing stones!"

As per His Excellency's plan, we're focusing on the flying monsters first. They are the most troublesome since they aren't hindered by the walls. If they get to us, we're bound to suffer significant casualties.

The most skilled archers, aside from those who can also use magic, were given all the bows we had. Everyone will prepare to throw heavy boulders at the ground monsters.

A barrage of arrows and spells sets off into the sky. Many of the flying silhouettes fall down. The griffons, however, shrug most of the projectiles off. Their feathers are too thick and sturdy to be pierced by the arrows or damaged by the magic. It also doesn't help that they fly so high that there is no impulse left in the projectiles that reach them.

This is bad. At this rate, we will have to fight all of the griffons up close. There's no way that your average knight would be able to defeat one — not even talking about a soldier or a militia.

As I start anticipating the worst, I suddenly see something flying out from the walls of the fortress. When I look closer, I realize — it's a wind spell! A Tempest Spear, to be exact. I already have a hunch as to who the caster is...

The Spear soars into the skies at an incredible speed, approaching the group of griffons. They seethe incoming spell and spread out to dodge it.


It misses the target, and the griffons continue to fly to the fortress when—

—The spell turns around. It pierces one of them, and he falls to the ground. The falling griffon might not die, but he certainly can't fly after that.

The Tempest Spear doesn't stop there. It keeps pursuing the monsters and manages to snipe another griffon.

Realizing that they won't be able to fly past the magic, the griffons descend onto a mountain slope, hiding.

Damn. Vanessa sure is scary.

Well, it might look easy from the side, but I heard that The Tempest Spear requires too much mana and concentration. In the first place, she is the only mage in our army who can use it.

Casting it once more immediately would be too hard for her— she needs to rest in between. Luckily, The Horde doesn't know that, so we bought ourselves some time...

While I watch the fight in the skies, the monsters have already gotten to the walls. The infantry begins throwing stones at them. Some of the soldiers team up to throw massive boulders, while others use smaller rocks on their own.

Our long-range fighters keep focusing on the skies. It feels like the number of flying monsters has already reduced by a third. That sounds good on paper—however, in reality, we won't be able to keep shooting when the melee begins. That's why we need to almost all of them before that. Otherwise, we will be in a world of trouble...

As I look over the battlefield, a massive monster enters my sight. It's over three meters tall with a big club made from a tree in its hand.

A troll. It's moving towards the gate with the intent of breaking it down.

The troll is not the only gigantic monster on the battlefield. Several others can be seen, and all of them are approaching the entrance of the fortress.

The gate is by no means fragile, but it won't be able to hold out under the immense strength of those giants.

The troll, leading the charge, keeps making his way forward. The infantry has focused on throwing stones at it, but it just shrugs them off as if nothing happened.

Suddenly, a massive boulder starts falls on the troll—


It covers itself with its hand and keeps walking forward. The troll did start bleeding, but that's certainly not enough.

It keeps walking and is already a couple dozen meters away from the gate. Many of the other massive monsters have also closed in.

As we predicted, the big ones immediately headed towards the gate, rushing to break it as soon as they can.

It's about time.

As that thought runs through my mind, the walls of the fortress start glowing. The magical circles we placed on the walls manifest.

Some of the more intelligent monsters start looking at the walls in confusion. A part of them is even clever enough to start panicking.

But it's too late.

The magical circles grow brighter and brighter, and a strange buzzing sound fills up the air.


And then—

—The space under the walls of the fortress becomes hell on earth.

A storm of magical spells comes crashing down on the monsters. Every section of the wall has a different combination of elements on it.

Wind and fire cause a firestorm to appear.

Water and ice freeze the monsters into ice statues.

Shadows bind them as they are crushed to death by a mass of earth and stone.

Light. Darkness. Metal. Plants. Lightning.

A deadly vortex of spells envelops the Horde. Elements rage as the cries of the monsters resound across the battlefield.

Our plan has worked. The giant monsters' numbers will now be significantly reduced.

The magical storm subsides, and a cloud of dust, lifted by the spells, rises in the sky...

As it starts settling in, the full view of The Horde's casualties becomes known.

Bodies of monsters riddle the field before the walls...

I obviously don't know the exact number, but there must be over a thousand dead.

Not good enough.

Between the flying monster and the ground ones, The Horde's casualties are most likely over 1500...

And yet, that's less than a fifth of their forces.

Thousands of silhouettes keep marching towards the fortress, intent on razing it to the ground.

The second wave is coming.

Bernard Godwin, The Grand Master of The Renoa Knight Order.

My voice reverberates throughout the main hall of the fortress's keep as I bark out orders into the magical items.

"Keep watch on the state of our army! Tell me when the melee begins!"

""Yes, Your Excellency!""

I've placed several scouts all over the battlefield. I gave them the magical communication devices to keep me up to date on the state of the battle. The scouts inform me of the state of our soldiers and the positioning of the monsters.

Melee will soon begin. The flying monsters have already closed the distance and started engaging the infantry. Meanwhile, the ground ones... Some of them are approaching the gates, while others — use each other as a foothold to scale the walls.

Fort Draun is a fortress, but its walls aren't that high. Only six and a half meters from the ground. The monsters — especially humanoid ones — quite literally stand on the shoulders of their brethren. They keep piling up, trying to reach the peak of the walls.

For now, none of them have reached the peak as our soldiers shoot them down. However, since the flying monsters keep distracting our fighters, it's not long before the walls will finally be scaled.

Thankfully, the gate will last for some time since many burly monsters died in our trap.

It has killed over a thousand monsters— which is not bad. But it's not good either.

As soon as the melee starts, the fact that half of our army are militia will be a deciding factor. And not in our favor. Your average militia has no chance of beating most of the monsters in a one-on-one fight. Even a trained soldier will struggle.

We might be able to reduce the forces of The Horde to seven— or maybe even six and a half thousand. However, that's not even close to being enough.

It seems that we will have no choice but to rely on it...