Volume 5 Chapter 3

Volume 5 Chapter 3, “With this, the Southern Alliance is Finished.”

 

———- The City of the Gate, the Besieging Holy Crusaders

Boom! Boom!

Spearman of Light: “I’m hungry.”

Militia of Light: “Yeah… I’m hungry too.”

Disciple Bard: “Recently we haven’t been getting any rations.”

Spearman of Light: “I’m real sorry about that, Ms Bard.”

Disciple Bard: “No it’s alright. I don’t eat very much anyway.”

Spearman of Light: “Really?”

Disciple Bard: “Yep.” Stomach rumbles

Spearman of Light: “Uhhhh.”

Disciple Bard: “Yeah.” Stomach rumbles

Auxiliary of Light: “You must be famished.”

Booom! Boom!

Disciple Bard: “Even so.”

Spearman of Light: “?”

Disciple Bard: “It’s still better than being in the fight itself.”

Spearman of Light: “Well, that’s…true.”

Militia of Light: “Fighting sucks.”

Disciple Bard: “Well, of course. This is my homeland after all. Oh, this might be a bit frivolous, but I’m a Fairy. It’s a type of Demon. There are many types of Demons.”

Spearman of Light: “A Fairy you say?”

Disciple Bard: “Umm. We Fairies live in the woods. There are Fairies like me who look roughly like Humans, and there are also tiny Fairies who look like little children. They are called Sprites, and while they don’t have much physical strength, they can fly.”

Militia of Light: “Oh… Amazing!”

Disciple Bard: “We might be part of the Demon World, but we Fairies are not a race with much power. We have quite a large population with a rich history, but we are a cultured race with no propensity for violence. We live in the forests, playing music, singing songs, and pursuing a life of art. We also love to play pranks on other people. We’re a bunch of tricksters, so we are terrible at fighting.”

Spearman of Light: “Terrible at…fighting?”

Disciple Bard: “That’s right.”

Booom! Booom!

Spearman of Light: “But the other Demons are fighting aren’t they?”

Militia of Light: “Are the Fairies being enslaved or something?”

Disciple Bard: “No, not at all. There are definitely Fairies inside the City of the Gate. We may be terrible at fighting, but that is also our land.”

Spearman of Light: “Eh…”

Disciple Bard: “If somebody attacks your home, no matter what, you have to stand up for it. Otherwise, you’ll lose the place where you belong…”

Spearman of Light: “That’s…”

Auxiliary of Light: “But well, the Demons, the Surface World.”

Disciple Bard: “Well… I guess it had to be said sooner or later. We didn’t actually attack you.”

Spearman of Light: “That can’t be right. The Isle of Light was taken by the Demons, and lots and lots of people died there, right?”

Disciple Bard: “The Fairies didn’t go to that island. Have you lived on that island before?”

Spearman of Light: “Well, no…”

Disciple Bard: “Much like the Human World, the Demons are split into different factions living separately. So we didn’t actually do anything. Moreover, your homes weren’t being attacked, but everyone rushed to defend it, don’t you think it’s weird…?”

Militia of Light: “Well…”

Boom! Boom!

Disciple Bard: “Aha. Ahahahaha. Sorry. Sorry! I didn’t actually mean to say that. It wasn’t something I should have said, but it is a complex situation. Like I said, there are many different types of Demons. Just like with Humans, there are many different types of Humans too.”

Spearman of Light: “…”

Disciple Bard: “Well, that’s the way it is… My heart is racing, sweat forming on my brow, my nose itches, and I feel like I’m going to cry. But even so, I must continue. That is what I was taught.”

Spearman of Light: “…”

Militia of Light: “Is that so?”

Auxiliary of Light: “We are just simple serfs.”

Disciple Bard: “Then sing.”

Spearman of Light: “Eh?”

Boom! Boom!

Disciple Bard: “Let’s sing today as well. What should we sing? How about something fun and lively? Sad songs are too difficult. And army songs are just, no. How about a festival song…?”

Spearman of Light: “Yeah…”

Strum, strum…

Disciple Bard: “Alright!”

Spearman of Light: “Isn’t this the Canticle of Light?”

Militia of Light: “You know songs about the Spirit as well?”

Auxiliary of Light: “Why would you? Aren’t Demons the enemies of the Spirit?”

Disciple Bard: “Eh? But, this is a nice song, isn’t it? I remembered it from a church in the Holy Empire, but I really liked it. It seems to a be a melody offering thanks for Spring to the Spirit of Light. It’s kind, and bright, and I like it.”

Spearman of Light: “…”

Militia of Light: “…”

Strum, strum…

Auxiliary of Light: “Yeah… We dance to this song in the Spring festival where I come from too.”

Disciple Bard: “Yeah. Dancing makes the days light and fun.”

Boooom! Booom!

Spearman of Light: “…I want to go home.”

 

———— The Plains of Strange Cliffs, the Crown Prince Marshal’s Army

Crown Prince Marshal: “How is the situation?”

Strategist: “Yes. We are half a day from the logistics division, and we should arrive in three li. If we can close this distance, we can more or less guarantee the safety of the logistics division.”

Holy Imperial General: “There have been no surprise attacks.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “We still can’t afford to be careless…”

Strategist: “Even if the Southern Alliance were to launch an attack from seven li away, our musket brigade will still be able to attack them before they can make contact with the logistics division. We won’t lose to the Southern Alliance in speed. So I think it’s safe to say that we are out of danger from a Southern Alliance ambush.”

Holy Imperial General: “Can their Paladins withstand a volley?”

Strategist: “According to our intelligence, the Southern Alliance has a Paladin corps of less than 1,000 riders. Most of their horses are pack horses used for pulling caravans.”

Holy Imperial General: “In that case, we can use our cavalry to guard against their cavalry.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “…”

Strategist: “What is wrong?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “We cannot tell if the Southern Alliance has joined up with the Demons. With such unconfirmed information, what shall we label them?”

Strategist: “They appear to have joined up.”

Holy Imperial General: “…Hmm.”

Strategist: “Even if they haven’t, they are still heretics. It doesn’t matter if they’re up above or down below, they are still rotten and evil.”

Holy Imperial General: “That’s right.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “That would be nice.”

Strategist: “…”

Crown Prince Marshal: “What do you mean? 50,000 is a lot. It’s more than we can hope to finish off in a single fight.”

Strategist: “That may be true.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “I’m sure the South must have considered that as well.”

Strategist: “How are the negotiations?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Hmm… They must still have some soldiers in the South. This 50,000 is simply the largest expeditionary force that their supply lines and logistics stores could allow. Unlike the Holy Crusaders, they don’t have the force of religious fanaticism to provide volunteers. In other words, the majority of the South’s military strength is still at home. This main force still poses a serious threat to the Central Kingdoms, they could set the Central Plains on fire in an instant.”

Holy Imperial General: “…”

Crown Prince Marshal: “This is the reality. I understand that they cannot possibly inflict such violence on us. However, this threat could really scare the people. They cannot publicly join forces with the Demons, and openly declare war against us, who serve the Holy Church. That would merely induce the other nobility and royalty to join the Holy Crusaders.”

Strategist: “Well, that’s true.”

Holy Imperial General: “Indeed.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “That’s why they want it to be settled in one fight. What’s the point even if we annihilate them. It’ll just throw the Surface World into another hundred years of war. We have to make sure that the negotiations end with them becoming our vassals once again. However, that means we have to have that one fight, so that our negotiations will be forced to the breaking point.”

Strategist: “That’s right. Moreover, that fight will open the eyes of all the nobles.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Yeah. If we don’t intimidate the Southern Alliance right now, the flames of war will spread even further.”

Holy Imperial General: “Then…”

Crown Prince Marshal: “No matter how, it’s going to be a war. But, if possible, I want it to be just one war. Once the logistics division links up with the forces besieging the City, we’ll cover their rear. Once that happens, the Southern Alliance can only dream about ambushing us. If we do it right, we should be able to bring the nobility into the war against the Southern Alliance.”

Strategist: “Indeed.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “But, this is a good chance for us to wipe them out. After what happened the last time.”

Holy Imperial General: “You mean the Polar War?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Well.”

Strategist: “Yeah…”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Time has a definite effect on lowering the combat ability of expeditionary troops.”

Strategist: (Definitely… We weren’t able to get enough supplies from the Lands of the Pale and now we are suffering its ill-effects.)

Crown Prince Marshal: “It’s very annoying, but we can’t even be certain about the movements of the main forces of the Holy Crusaders. We should move together.”

 

———– The Plains of Strange Cliffs, the Southern Alliance Camp

Disciple Soldier: “Speed has slowed down a little. They appear to be maintaining a distance.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “Defence Minister?”

Disciple Soldier: “What is it?”

Lieutenant of Metal: “Why do you keep changing our movement speed and asking us to incessantly circle around the enemy unit?”

Disciple Soldier: “Yeah. We have to apply pressure on them from the front, and continue to whittle down their numbers.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “Their numbers?”

Disciple Soldier: “Yes.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “Why?”

Disciple Soldier: “The Fairy Tribe, especially the Sprites, are able to see amazingly well in the moonlight. They can easily conceal their presence and make for fantastic scouts.”

Fairy Attendant: “That’s right!”

Disciple Soldier: “The Fairies long ago discovered the scout units sent to observe us. I fear these scouts are operating under instructions from the Crown Prince Marshal.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “The Crown Prince Marshal is to our two o’clock direction, ready to link up with the logistics division, right?”

Disciple Soldier: “That’s right. It seems they intend to join the 50,000 soldiers of the Crown Prince Marshal to their guard.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “! Really?”

Disciple Soldier: “Well, honestly, their loads are rather heavy. On top of well-positioned muskets, they also have well-trained, high-morale elite troops among the 50,000. The Crown Prince Marshal commands a corps of 10,000 noble cavalry. Compared to that, we have 30,000 men in the Southern Alliance army.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “…”

Fairy Attendant: “—“

Disciple Soldier: “By numbers, our defeat is certain… That’s why we have to strike now.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “And that’s why we keep moving around?”

Disciple Soldier: “That’s right. By waking up earlier and earlier, we give the logistics division the impression that we are getting closer and closer.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “But if we decrease our speed, we’ll have moved the same distance by evening, right? Why don’t we just go at full speed and capture them all?”

Disciple Soldier: “Capturing them is not our objective. Moreover, if we chase them for no reason, our troops will merely get exhausted, and we won’t be able to stand up to the Crown Prince Marshal when he arrives to reinforce them. This erratic movement is meant to be a psychological attack on the logistics division.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “Psychological…”

Disciple Soldier: “In an unfamiliar land, with no allies to save them. They are a logistics unit of serfs, constantly fleeing while holding on to as many goods as they can carry. Their psychological health is already desperately stretched. On top of that, every night the Southern Alliance seems to draw closer and closer. Of course, the average distance is roughly the same, but they can’t really tell that. Based on their evidence, we could be two days away, or right next to them.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “Then what’s with the constant reorganisation and attacks?”

Disciple Soldier: “We want to deceive them regarding our troop numbers. We may have elite soldiers, but only 30,000 of them. The Holy Crusaders’ entire army numbers 200,000, but we aren’t even really a match for the 50,000 Crusaders under the command of the Crown Prince Marshal. At the very least, we have to seize the initiative.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “I see, so this allows us to seize the initiative…”

Disciple Soldier: “That is right. While we know that we are at a disadvantage, the Crown Prince Marshal doesn’t know the terrain or the exact composition of our forces. That is what we hope for as well. If he thinks we have too many soldiers, he will act more cautiously. If he thinks we have too few, he may act more rashly.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “So a fight is unavoidable then.”

Fairy Attendant: “Are we going to fight?”

Disciple Soldier: “Well…”

Lone Winter King: “It would appear unavoidable.”

Fairy Attendant: “Your Majesty!”

Disciple Soldier: “Your Majesty!”

Iron Fist King: “That’s right.”

Lone Winter King: “We cannot avoid a fight, but we can prevent them from advancing.”

Disciple Soldier: “Indeed.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “…Why? I don’t understand. Didn’t we just say that winning would be very difficult?”

Lone Winter King: “The Crown Prince Marshal is the head of the Holy Crusaders. On top of that, he is a remarkably reasonable man.”

Disciple Soldier: “That’s right, which is why we can’t avoid it.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “I don’t understand…”

Lone Winter King: “This expedition is not aimed at defeating the Holy Crusaders. Our objective is to find a political solution that does not involve the extermination of the Subterranean World, the Central Kingdoms, or the Southern Alliance. This is why the commander of the expeditionary forces is the Iron Fist King, and I am accompanying the expedition as a representative of the Southern Alliance Security Council. I have no intention to command the expedition, but I will pursue diplomatic and foreign policy goals.”

Iron Fist King: “You take care of the troublesome things.”

Lone Winter King: “Why do the Holy Crusaders or the Demons have to be exterminated? This is a trend we have to leap out of, where you confront your enemies based on equivalent strength. The Southern Alliance is still weak. And it’s still balancing on thin ice… If we annihilate the Holy Crusaders, we might get drawn into the fight with the Demons, and the fires of war will just destroy us again. For the Southern Alliance to survive, we have to ensure that all three parties hold back their spears.”

Iron Fist King: “And that’s something we can’t do without being here.”

Lone Winter King: “Exactly, the Central Kingdoms have already expressed that their heads are by now down here in the Demon World. The Holy Crusaders might as well be called the Imperial Alliance. In addition to their imperial influence, they invoked the name of the Primarch of the Holy Church of Light and went along with the Crusades.”

Disciple Soldier: “That’s right.”

Lone Winter King: “That’s why, for this interminable diplomacy, we must focus on the heads of the Holy Crusaders, and diminish their desire to invade. However. ‘However’ is very important here.”

Fairy Attendant: “?”

Iron Fist King: “We can only confront them militarily. We tried using money, but it was pointless. They are landed nobility. They wouldn’t just agree to our terms and go back obediently.”

Lone Winter King: “Precisely. That is why we still need that one fight.”

Fairy Attendant: “…How difficult.”

Disciple Soldier: “The problem is.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “When and where?”

Disciple Soldier: “Precisely. The details will decide everything. According to the Fairy Attendant, in a day and a half we will reach the City of the Gate. The main force of the Holy Crusaders has enveloped the City of the Gate. I fear that when the logistics division arrives at the City of the Gate, they will begin preparing defences against us… They have two paths. The Crown Prince Marshal can turn around and engage us.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “The Crown Prince Marshal’s forces could link up with the main force. No matter what formation they take, they would be able to defend against us easily.”

Iron Fist King: “Well, that’s true. The first option is much better.”

Lone Winter King: “That’s right. In the second option, we would have to fight a force of at least 100,000 enemies.”

Disciple Soldier: “In the end, we will have to prepare for the second option, but we will still have to confront the Crown Prince Marshal on the first one. Moreover… with the logistics division and the supplies they are carrying, my teacher would definitely…”

Lieutenant of Metal: “What?”

Disciple Soldier: “Well my teacher would tell me to take that into consideration.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “…”

Iron Fist King: “Well, what should we do? Commander?”

Disciple Soldier: “This fight will be decided by the military emplacements built at the battleground. For that reason, we need to start now. This could all go down tomorrow.”

Iron Fist King: “One fight.”

Disciple Soldier: “I hope so.”

Iron Fist King: “Then.”

Disciple Soldier: “Fairy Attendant, ramp up all reconnaissance operations.”

Fairy Attendant: “Understood!”

 

———— The Plains of Strange Cliffs, the Crown Prince Marshal’s Tent

Strategist: “We should be able to see the logistics division soon.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Understood.”

Strategist: “It seems we should be able to link up with them without any difficulty.”

Holy Imperial General: “By tonight, we should have completely merged with the logistics division… Soon our vanguard should link up with them, and we are making arrangements to get a situational report from their commanders.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “How is it?”

Holy Imperial General: “Well, it’s difficult. The security of the supply depots is the responsibility of the Guard Commanders, who are dead. There are more than ten supply depots, and in the process of escaping, they failed to establish a unified command structure. On top of this, a lot of supplies under their charge were lost, and each of the commanders are scared of taking responsibility for this.”

Strategist: “Well, that’s to be expected.”

Holy Imperial General: “Precisely. The remaining Guard Commanders are all low nobility.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “But on the other hand, I’m not about to fault them. They were tasked to defend an area with only 2,000 men. The Southern Alliance attacked with 50,000. It would be within their responsibilities to withdraw.”

Holy Imperial General: “Well, according to what I’ve heard, they report being attacked by a mixed Human-Demon army of several thousands.”

Strategist: “Mixed army?”

Holy Imperial General: “They report seeing the insignia of the Holy Order of the Lake, but the infantry units were primarily Demons. On top of that, the enemies had muskets too.”

Strategist: “Muskets? …Did they seize them?”

Holy Imperial General: “So it would appear. Well, the report does not come from the commanders, but the same story is being told by their subordinates. It’s real chaos. We’re going to need to get there before we can confirm the story.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Mixed force? How is that…? No wait. The Holy Order of the Lake… That means their commander is…”

Bang! Bang!

“Ambush! It’s an ambush!”

“Enemy cavalry! Prepare the muskets!”

“Right flank prepare!”

“No it’s the left flank. Agh!!”

Strategist: “What?”

Holy Imperial General: “An ambush!? Where did they come from? The Southern Alliance hasn’t been moving!”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Calm down! The enemy are few in number.”

Holy Imperial General: “Why?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “There’s no way they could send any sort of substantial force here without our detection! Believe in your scouts! The enemy is at best a 10,000-strong force capable of moving undetected through the forest! Stop all movements and focus on breaking through their encirclement.”

Strategist: “All units, rally! Cavalry form ranks! Pikes to the front!”

Holy Imperial General: “Your Imperial Highness, we are moving.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Tsk. This movement.”

Paladin of the Lake: “Attack! Form the Aquarius formation!”

Dual Swordsman of Beasts: “Aggghhhhhh!!”

Pikeman of Beasts: “Die you children!!”

Strategist: “It’s no use. The attack power of the Demons hiding in the forest is much higher than we expected. Our muskets can’t be used in all this chaos.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Hold them down with the pikemen! Take them out with the muskets!”

Strategist: “Pikemen advance!”

“Hold them down! As the Spirit wills it!”

“As the Spirit wills it!”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Their numbers are few! Do not falter! Take them down!”

Bang! Bang!

The Female Paladin: “Crown Prince Marshal!”

Crown Prince Marshal: “!”

The Female Paladin: “I am the Female Paladin! The Grand Commander of the Holy Order of the Lake! This is your last warning, lay down your arms!”

Clang!

Crown Prince Marshal: “Female general of the Southern Alliance! The Rose of the Isle of Light! The Right Hand of the Hero!!”

The Female Paladin: “So you do know me, Hero of the Empire. Or should I say, the Commander of the Continent, Crown Prince Marshal.”

Clang! Clang!

Crown Prince Marshal: “I’m afraid I cannot compare to you in swordsmanship. Take aim! Muskets! Fire!”

The Female Paladin: “Please, I am a user of chants. ‘Chant of Speed’!”

Strategist: “Ha! My men are not aiming directly at you, they will fire at the space around you, filling the air with high velocity balls of lead which you cannot possibly dodge.”

The Female Paladin: (What quick thinking. Much faster than any of the Demon commanders.)

Strategist: “Your Imperial Highness!”

Musketeer of Light: “Fire!”

Bang! Bang!

Holy Imperial General: “Are you all right!?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “I’m fine.”

The Female Paladin: (This is it for us.)

Bang! Bang!

The Female Paladin: “Paladins, form up! Formation of the Lily!”

Strategist: “What?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Are you retreating, Female Paladin.”

The Female Paladin: “We are just beginning, Crown Prince Marshal.”

Holy Imperial General: “Kill them!”

The Female Paladin: “ Wall of light!”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Enough.”

“Agh!! Destroy it!”

“Right flank, support us. What are you doing!!”

Crown Prince Marshal: “…… What are you trying to do?”

The Female Paladin: “I’m sure you can understand. As a fellow servant of the Spirit of Light I have but one answer. Peace.”

Holy Imperial General: “You stupid woman, collaborating with the Demons…”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Just like the Hero.”

The Female Paladin: “I am the Right Hand of the Hero.”

Strategist: “Then you stand in the way of His Imperial Excellency?”

Holy Imperial General: “…”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Is that possible?”

The Female Paladin: “How can it be impossible!? I will do my best until my effort runs dry!!”

Crown Prince Marshal: “…!!”

“Pursue them! The disgusting Demons are fleeing!”

“The enemy are few! Don’t run away!”

Bang! Bang!

Strategist: “Ahh!”

Crown Prince Marshal: “No!”

The Female Paladin: “…Until next time, Crown Prince Marshal!”

 

——— The Plains of Strange Cliffs, the Southern Alliance

Fairy Attendant: “Something happened!”

Lieutenant of Metal: “What?”

Fairy Attendant: “Somebody attacked the Crown Prince Marshal’s army and they are headed here now! It’s a weird army, they seem to be escaping.”

Iron Fist King: “What!?”

Lone Winter King: “What sort of army, Demons?”

Disciple Soldier: “No, probably not. What is their composition?”

Fairy Attendant: “Half Human cavalry and half Beast infantry.”

Disciple Soldier: “It must be the Female Paladin. All units to arms! Cavalry mount up! Caravans prepare, we are moving out!”

Lieutenant of Metal: “The Female Paladin!?”

Disciple Soldier: “We’ve got to go now.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “Prepare for battle! Prepare for battle!”

Fairy Attendant: “They are coming! Fleeing from the enemy!”

Disciple Soldier: “They aren’t fleeing. They are clearly baiting them… The battleground has been set, one li from here! Form the caravans, it’s going to be a simple battleground!”

Lieutenant of Metal: “Hurry! Form ranks!”

 

———— The Plains of Strange Cliffs, the Crown Prince Marshal’s Camp

Scout: “The ambush force is now headed directly for the logistics division. Our forces are in hot pursuit, mostly formed from musketeers.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “…”

Holy Imperial General: “We have to destroy them.”

Strategist: “We were rattled so heavily by a force so much smaller than our own. There appear to be deficiencies…”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Deficiencies?”

Strategist: “Many of the casualties are from our command structure, mostly commissioned officers. Especially the officers of the musket units.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “We have to reorganise our forces and reform the command line. Let’s withdraw our hand for now.”

Holy Imperial General: “Your Imperial Highness, the logistics division.”

Strategist: “This is a trap from the enemy…”

Crown Prince Marshal: “I know. But if we do nothing, we will lose 20,000 friendly forces. No, we won’t just lose them, we have much more at stake here. We won’t be able to fend them off with just the vanguard. All units advance and prepare for battle. The enemy will be the combined 50,000 strong from the Southern Alliance! Men, we are going to save our comrades! The enemy is the Southern Alliance! We will protect our fellow Crusaders and brothers of the Light!”

 

——— The Demon World, the Rear of the Crusader Invasion, the Combined Southern Alliance Army

The Female Paladin: “Disciple Soldier.”

Disciple Soldier: “Master! I knew it was you!”

Lieutenant of Metal: “It has been some time, Female Paladin.”

The Female Paladin: “You are shaping up well, Lieutenant.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “No, no, you are too kind.”

Disciple Soldier: “How are your forces?”

The Female Paladin: “We had a skirmish with the logistics division, and my cavalry have split up as reconnaissance. The Beasts are hiding in a nearby valley, waiting for an opportunity.”

Disciple Soldier: “How is the area?”

The Female Paladin: “It’s a sea of wasteland in all four directions. It used to be one of the Demon World’s more lush fields, but the fires of war have damaged it, and it’s all but barren now.”

Disciple Soldier: “…It must have been great.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “Yes.”

The Female Paladin: “There is no suitable terrain for an ambush nearby. We used the forests further to the east to launch our ambush, but that is no longer possible.”

Disciple Soldier: “Indeed.”

Scout: “Sir, the rear units are ready for deployment!”

Disciple Soldier: “Excellent, move out with the rear guard.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “Will it be all right if we go first?”

The Female Paladin: “The enemy are en route to merging with the logistics division. It seems we will have to fight them here.”

Disciple Soldier: “Do you know the position of the Southern Alliance?”

The Female Paladin: “Of course.”

Disciple Soldier: “Then what do you think of my plans and strategy?”

The Female Paladin: “I don’t know. But surely it’s enough to beat the logistics division, which has no plans or strategies? Oh right!”

Lieutenant of Metal: “?”

The Female Paladin: “Make sure you collect their food and gunpowder. Those are expensive goods in the Demon World.”

Disciple Soldier: “Of course.”

The Female Paladin: “ I exchanged blows with the Crown Prince Marshal.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “That’s…”

Disciple Soldier: “How was it?”

The Female Paladin: “You will need to fight to the death. He’s strong. He’s smart. And he’s determined. He quickly figured out the numbers of our forces based on the circumstances.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “I see…”

The Female Paladin: “But if you fight with all your strength, we might have a chance. The Crown Prince Marshal is strong. I believe that we have to destroy him before he has the opportunity to link up with the main force of the Holy Crusaders.”

Disciple Soldier: “I agree.”

The Female Paladin: “Then, let’s go.”

Disciple Soldier: “Roger that!”

 

———– The Plains of Strange Cliffs, the Crown Prince Marshal’s Army

Holy Imperial General: “Commander! Is there a commander here!?”

Depot Commander: “Y, yes. I’m here.”

Holy Imperial General: “I want a report on your strength now.”

Depot Commander: “Umm, 1600.”

Strategist: “Are you joking? Just with my eyes I can see at least 20,000 soldiers here!”

Depot Commander: “Well, umm, 1600 of them are mine.”

Holy Imperial General: “Well that’s completely useless. Is there somebody in charge of the entire logistics division?”

Depot Commander: “I’m sorry. As far as I know, there isn’t somebody with that role… The closest would be the commander of the Holy Crusaders, the Green Ash King. Yeah.”

Holy Imperial General: “! So there is nobody who can tell us about the strength or formation of this division?”

Strategist: “How stupid. How are we supposed to mount a proper defence like this?”

Depot Commander: “I’m sorry. I am, I am, my family is…”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Fine. Let’s move.”

Depot Commander: “! Sorry!”

Holy Imperial General: “…”

Crown Prince Marshal: “The logistics division will continue advancing at this pace. If we keep this up for another day, we will reach the main force. At that time, the responsibility will be with the Ash Green King to command the unit. But between now and then, I want to know if we lose even one soldier.”

Depot Commander: “Understood!”

Holy Imperial General: “Strong wind.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Terrible dust.”

Holy Imperial General: “We are drawing close to the positions of the Southern Alliance. That formation is…”

Strategist: “A strange formation I’ve never seen before. The wagons are in front.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Whatever kind of enemy it is, we’ve got muskets. They must be up to something.”

Holy Imperial General: “Do you know why they’re doing this?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Probably to protect the musketeers. Musketeers have tremendous firepower but terrible defence. We Crusaders provide direct cover using spearmen, but they sort of built a wall out of wagons instead.”

Holy Imperial General: “So that is…”

Strategist: “Probably a type of fortification.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Probably.”

Holy Imperial General: “It would be stupid to think they can attack against us in this way.”

Strategist: “That’s not necessarily true. Just from previous encounters, the enemy reinforcements were able to easily destroy the logistics division. If we want to protect these terrible people, we are going to need to jump into that trap.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Fine. This is our welcome then… They remember our muskets. But now they will taste the pressure we can apply on them with our tactics. Let them try.”

Holy Imperial General: “Yes!”

Strategist: “I will organise the rear guard.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Let’s get prepared.”

Strategist: “Understood.”

 

————- The Demon World, the Rear of the Holy Crusaders, the Southern Alliance, Atop a Hill

The Female Paladin: “Is that the Crown Prince Marshal’s army?”

Iron Fist King: “Hmph. Pitiful.”

Lone Winter King: “They seem very strong. That division is clearly elite.”

Disciple Soldier: “A truly splendid force. Four line columns, without a single misstep, to maximise their musket force concentration. Whatever the Female Paladin came up with would get devoured by the formation.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “That movement speed. They are going for some sort of Lightning Warfare*.”

Lone Winter King: “How scary.”

Iron Fist King: “Are they equipped with muskets?”

The Female Paladin: “A fair number appear to be. Of the 50,000 soldiers, it would appear that 20,000 of them are armed with muskets.”

Lone Winter King: “In that case, we may be unable to avoid large numbers of casualties.”

Iron Fist King: “Indeed.”

Disciple Soldier: “Let us take advantage of what we have. The Crown Prince Marshal does not have the ability to choose the battleground. On top of that, in order to save the logistics division, he will have to divert some firepower from us. That is something we can take advantage of.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “But, just that alone…”

The Female Paladin: “That’s right. Their commander does not underestimate us, and he is acting rather cautiously. He has his own fortifications, and it even may not be possible to destroy him entirely.”

Seneschal: “Then the chance of victory is slim?”

The Female Paladin: “That would depend on the Disciple Soldier.”

Disciple Soldier: “Lieutenant. How are the armoured caravans?”

Lieutenant of Metal: “Yes, well… The first wave is ready.”

Seneschal: “ What’s that?”

Disciple Soldier: “It’s a strategy where we align the armoured caravans side-by-side as a fortification. The caravans are built from oak and reinforced with metal plates. Each of them has eight wheels, allowing them to absorb the cannon impact by moving with it, and can also be braced by human hands if necessary. With thirty of them, we’ll be able to construct a fully mobile fortification.”

The Female Paladin: “Hmm, you’ve put much thought into this.”

Disciple Soldier: “I just want to do my part to make sure nobody dies. But please make sure you fulfil your part of the promise.”

The Female Paladin: “Leave it to me. Rifles! It’ going to be cramped, but squeeze into the carriages! Load up!”

Seneschal: “Those are…?”

Disciple Soldier: “These are our sharpshooter rifle units. Their number is small, but each of them are highly elite members trained by the Female Paladin herself. In order to optimise their range and firepower, they need a stable platform from which to fire. These wagons may be metal plated, but they have slits between the plates allowing muskets to fire from. In other words, they are basically mobile fortresses. Without having to worry about their safety, they can fire confidently.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “It’s simultaneously a defensive fort as well as an offensive weapon.”

The Female Paladin: “It’s a strategy meant to maximise the utility of the rifles, despite how few they are.”

Seneschal: “I see!”

Disciple Soldier: “On top of that, the infantry units will be carrying shields. The shields are shaped like a kite with a sharp point which can be inserted into the ground to brace against.”

Lone Winter King: “… Amazing.”

Iron Fist King: “Alright! Kingdom of Metal! Southern Alliance! This will be a decisive battle with the Holy Crusaders! Don’t worry about your lives! The enemy are the muskets, but you’ll be protected in your caravans! They won’t be able to touch you! So take them out in the first volley!”

Disciple Soldier: “Believe in your allies! The shields and wagons are crafted by master smiths from the Metal guilds! Fro more than twenty paces away, their muskets are essentially useless! Engineers get ready! Let’s go!”

Alright!!

Let’s go!! Let’s go!!

The Female Paladin: “Here we go then.”

Disciple Soldier: “I will take the forward command. Master, please back me up.”

The Female Paladin: “I will follow your plan. Alright, let’s go!”

 

————- Plains of Strange Cliffs, the Battle, the Crown Prince Marshal

Fire! Fire!!

Kill the betrayers!

As the Spirit wills it! For the Spirit!

Holy Imperial General: “Advance! The enemy musketeers are few! Spread out and advance and you will be fine!”

Imperial Chevalier: “For the Crown Prince Marshal!”

Musketeer of Light: “Fire!”

Bang!

Crown Prince Marshal: “How tough.”

Strategist: “Yes. Apart from the horses themselves, the caravans are reinforced with strong metal plates. We won’t be able to destroy them with musket firepower.”

Holy Imperial General: “But we don’t have the element of surprise. They may be few, but they still fire muskets when you approach… And what they lack in numbers, they make up for in training. Their accuracy is something truly fearsome.”

Strategist: “How troublesome.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Then we can do nothing against them.”

Holy Imperial General: “We may have to withdraw then.”

Strategist: “What are our losses?”

Holy Imperial General: “This isn’t a pitched battle. Both sides are operating outside of musket range. So our casualties have actually been remarkably low. In total, including casualties from falling of their horses, we are down about a hundred.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “How about them?”

Holy Imperial General: “Because of those troublesome caravans, we can’t really tell, but it should be roughly the same. At this rate, we’ll win.”

Strategist: “Let’s continue the offensive until dusk. If we can delay them long enough, the cannons will arrive to the front from the rear. And then we can attack them like a fort and smash their caravans.”

Holy Imperial General: “That’s right. Once we’ve got the cannons, those caravans will be nothing.”

Imperial Messenger: “A message! A message for the Crown Prince Marshal!!”

Strategist: “Calm down! What is the matter?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Speak.”

Imperial Messenger: “The logistics division was ambushed by a mounted division while transporting the cannons!!”

Holy Imperial General: “What!”

Strategist: “What did you say!?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Hmph. It must be the Female Paladin. I did think it was weird that I didn’t see her anywhere on the frontlines. Haha! Haahahahahaha!”

Holy Imperial General: “Crown Prince Marshal!!”

Crown Prince Marshal: “How shameful! Those cannons were guarded by some of my most elite musketeers. They were taken down so easily! And there’s something even worse. How could they be familiar with the terrain in the Demon World? We’ve spent this entire battle playing on the palm of their hand.”

Strategist: “It’s bad…”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Apply pressure on them, and order the whole formation to advance! We attack!”

 

———– The Plains of Strange Cliffs, the Battle, the Southern Alliance

“Advance! Advance! As the Spirit wills it!”

“As the Spirit wills it! Crush the Demons!”

“Destroy the enemies of the Crown Prince Marshal!”

Fairy Attendant: “They’re coming! They’re coming!”

Iron Fist King: “Here they come! That must be the personal guard of the Crown Prince Marshal.”

Lone Winter King: “It’s the main force. Just with my eyes, it’s clear that they’ve got more than 20,000 there. With the musketeer formation, that’s a total of at least 40,000.”

Bang! Bang!

Disciple Soldier: “600 paces backwards.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “600 paces backwards! Move!”

Seneschal: “Right flank cavalry ready.”

Disciple Soldier: “Approach, volley, then cycle. Go!”

Seneschal: “Understood!”

Lone Winter King: “How is it?”

Disciple Soldier: “The enemy has been taunted into attacking us. After the first volley, subsequent shots will be aimed at their frontline commanders. That’ll force them to hide within the formations and disrupt their command ability.”

“Yahhhh!”

“For the Light!”

“As the Spirit wills it!”

Lieutenant of Metal: “Volley!”

Disciple Soldier: “300 paces forwards! Fire!”

Lone Winter King: (How meticulous. This is what it means to command.)

Disciple Soldier: “Is something the matter, your Majesty?”

Lone Winter King: “No I was just worried about you.”

Disciple Soldier: “?”

Lieutenant of Metal: “It is truly a sticky situation.”

Lone Winter King: “Mmm?”

Disciple Soldier: “As expected from the Crown Prince Marshal. If we manage to smoke his command system, at the very least, even if we cannot throw his lines into disarray, we’ll disrupt his frontline command. If I was him, I would panic. Under these circumstances, he would need to convey his wounded to the rear, and commit resources to resupply and coordination, it would make it very difficult for him to maintain any control. His challenge is to resist our musket attacks while also enacting his strategy.”

Lone Winter King: “By strategy, you mean his link-up?”

Disciple Soldier: “That’s right. Without his lines being destroyed, he needs to force us down, allowing him to advance to the north.”

“For the Light!”

“Advance! Advance! Take the enemy heads!”

Disciple Soldier: “The Crusaders still have to contend with stubborn resistance from the South Gate of the City of the Gate. And now, they’ve opened another front to their rear against us. Caught between the two battles are the tents of the nobility, monarchy, and clergy, as well as their rations and supply stocks. The Crown Prince Marshal did not get drawn into our bait, his lines are well structured. I fear he is merely trying to close the distance between the frontlines and the main force of the Crusaders, and then use his numerical advantage to cross us.”

Lieutenant of Metal: “Well, that is something we predicted.”

Lone Winter King: “Indeed.”

Disciple Soldier: “But for him to be willing to take so many casualties for this goal is abnormal. I think the enemy still has something to teach us.”

Lone Winter King: “Then it will be difficult for us to crush him?”

Disciple Soldier: “It’s a stalemate. If the Crown Prince Marshal continues to pressure us in this way, his troops will come within range of our muskets and then he will have placed them at extreme harm, allowing us to control the battle. Or the pressure he places on us might absolutely destroy us. It remains to be seen.”

 

———— The Plains of Strange Cliffs, the Battle, the Crown Prince Marshal

Imperial Messenger: “Casualties are mounting.”

Strategist: “What are the enemy’s movements?”

Imperial Messenger: “They have yet to pursue. They have continuously repulsed our attacks, and also reorganise their positions every now and then. That is all.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “What meticulous use of troops.”

Strategist: “The Female Paladin?”

Crown Prince Marshal: “No, the feeling is different. Rather than dealing with a fearsome unstoppable force, this is more like an unbending spear. He may not have any killer strategy, but he is unrelenting in the pursuit of his goals, and he won’t lose. The South has some talent.”

Strategist: “It seems unlikely how they are achieving it, but it would appear that their musket fire is aimed at whittling down our command system.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “Those are not…muskets. They have long range and high accuracy. But there aren’t a lot of them.”

Holy Imperial General: “Your Imperial Highness! The enemy formation has retreated half a li. Our main force will soon be in direct conflict with the enemy. However, panic is beginning to spread among the ranks of the main force.”

Strategist: “The Holy Crusaders are 200,000 undefeatable soldiers, but because of the size of the formation, many of them have no combat experience. Many of the serf soldiers do not even have the experience of accompanying the Crown Prince Marshal to defeat the Demons of the Pale. Some of the nobility joined the expedition, thinking of it as some sort of holiday. We’ve delegated most attacks to cannonfire, so some troops don’t even have direct exposure to the battlefield, and now they are scared when they see it.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “This pressure might be good luck, or bad luck. But if we continue to approach the frontline at this rate, the nobility and the clergymen will need to show their strength. Give my order! All units belonging to the Church or the High Command are to gather their forces to arch on the Southern Alliance!”

Strategist: “Yes. The order is already prepared.”

Holy Imperial General: “With this, we will have assembled the army we require.”

Crown Prince Marshal: “The personal levies of the nobility will be sufficient to maintain the siege on the City of the Gate. Send our 20,000 musketeers to support them. On top of that, I want the cannons currently aimed at the City to be redeployed to our front. With this, the Southern Alliance is finished.”

 

<< Chapter 2                                                                                                                                                    Chapter 4 >>

6 thoughts on “Volume 5 Chapter 3

  1. I appreciate the efforts you’ve made so far and I encourage you to keep it up so I can also find what’s beyond the hill.

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