Chapter 60:

Battle Cry II

Sword Quest

Many men fell from their horses, while Al and Hydrick were just able to steady themselves. Al waved an eerie dust cloud away from his face as he strained to get a better look at the scene.

“So… that’s what Valblin’s mist looks like, huh?” he muttered, garnering Jack’s glance—one full of amazement.

“That’s forbidden, though…” Jack responded, eyeing the old man in awe.

“Which is why I never thought I’d see it from the old geezer,” Al responded, eyes squinted in focus. “Though his power doesn’t disappoint, as expected of the former Sword Heir that trained Hedric himself.”

Closer to the duel, Hydrick looked on in awe as the two reared back to strike once more.

“So, you came after all, Master,” he muttered. “Which means… your gamble paid off, Al.”

The still battlefield watched as the two men traded a flurry of blows. Shuant, the calm aggressor, pushed Valblin’s large frame back with several winding spear thrusts, but the old man’s defense remained steadfast and equal in power.

“Oho, it would seem your scheme is going up in flames, General Shuant of the Red Wolves, and Commander-in-Chief of the Wolverine military.” The old man’s bold and boisterous voice filled the air, incurring Shuant’s scornful glance laced with enmity.

“Former Sword Heir Valblin Gladius…” Shuant hissed back in a shrill voice, “You and Allen did exactly as I expected you to. Now, if you’ll get out of my way…”

“Oho, you won’t be reaching Chief Allen tonight, General,” Valblin chuckled, ceasing the clash to point to the other side of the Knights who followed him. Allen was riding away from the back of the battle, leading 100 of his men toward the base of Samuel’s army.

“Hah… so you saw past the ideal bait I presented,” Shuant said with a frustrated grimace as his eyes followed the retreating Allen.

“Ho, luring the Chief out here with the prospect of taking your own head, only to time an attack of your own by firing a deadly arrow that would seek the Chief’s head. It was a very bold strategy, but even if the Chief hadn’t seen through it and planned to break away just in time, it seems my two young protégés were wary of your intentions as well. Had they not provided just enough pressure to chip the armor of your fierce arrowhead, you might have had enough firepower to break through myself and these Knights and go after Allen’s head.”

“So it seems,” Shuant responded with a weak smirk. “Though, you severely underestimate me if you think I couldn’t kill you now and go take his head, anyway.”
“Well, it’s possible, of course,” Valblin replied, resting his great glaive on his shoulder. “Though you won’t get through me easily… and if you do, you’ll have to worry about 25 of the 100 Teutonic Knights, along with General Hydrick and Commander Al.”

As he said this, Hydrick and Al crept closer to the opening, as did the formation of Knights.

“I don’t take you as the type to take such a risk,” Valblin continued. “Through your betrayal and subsequent murder of my heir and friend, I learned that while you are bold in your tactics, you are equally calculated.”

“What then?” Shuant replied, glancing all around. “Won’t you take advantage of your number of skilled men, and try for my head? Why else did you come out here, even if you knew of my trap?”

“Oh, it won’t be this old man who takes your head, General Shuant,” Valblin responded with a hard gaze. “Nor will it be any of those present tonight. I came here tonight for a different reason.”

“But are you sure that’s a good idea?” Shuant asked in a cunning tone. “How much longer can you Teutons last, realistically? Unless you pull the rest of the Four Generals from the Wall, your armies won’t be able to protect this beach for long.”

“Hoho, so eager to fight our very best, aren’t you?” Valblin responded with a chuckle. “But as calculated as you are, you won’t sail around the island to where they are and risk a three-way fight with the Shlanks, will you? Besides, it’s like I said; we’re here tonight to show you just how strong we still are. You’ll see why we won’t assemble the Four Generals for the likes of you; we will prove to you tonight that the Teutons are here to stay.”

“You’re really going to rely on a brand-new Heir, then?” Shuant scoffed, “Is that how desperate you truly are?”

“The Teuton Will is one that shines with brilliant belief, not desperation,” the old man replied in a scrupulous voice. “You will see just how brilliant that belief is when the time has come for us to take the fight to you.”

“Well then, let’s have a taste of that brilliance while we wait for the outcome of our little game behind the scenes, eh?” Shuant hissed, a malevolent excitement glowing within his eyes.

“Hoh, what you will witness will be but a precursor to our rise, oh General,” Valblin replied in his usual tone.

The two slowly moved away from each other, and Shuant signaled the reforming of the Wolverine troops into the thick of the Faron army, while Valblin directed the regrouping of Hydrick and Al’s men as they made for Samuel’s main army.