Royal Capital Liberation Army, Food Storehouse, Outskirts Campground. The Liberation Army furnished 1,000 regular soldiers for defense.
Furthermore, they invested a large amount of money and employed a mercenary force of 3,000 strong. Their discipline was slack, but they were a well-equipped infantry force.
Tactician Diener had been expecting an assault a second time. However, he couldn't divide any more fighting power away from the main battlefield, and he was only barely able to station this amount of soldiers on defense.
—-Nevertheless, they were given the epitome of defense equipment.
"......Commanding officer, the scum from the Kingdom are really coming. The strategist did say it was a fifty-fifty chance though."
"Well now. We will just do our jobs. Once they come, We'll kill every single last one of them. Simple right?"
"Let's tear it up; then the knights might be promoted. And then, you'll also join the nobility, Commanding Officer!"
"As long as I get paid that's enough. I ain't got much interest in nobility. Just what's there to be so envious about, I ain't understanding."
Spit out the Mercenary Commanding Officer, and the group member sighed.
"What a waste ain't it. With your skill, I bet you could make it, Commanding Officer"
"Excessive greed brings ruin onto oneself. People have their limits. It's good enough to just strive to not die."
"Yeah-! I got ya!"
"Do you really get it? ......Well whatever."
The Mercenary Commanding Officer stood up after finishing maintenance on his large sword. Their military strength was a little lacking to defend the storehouse, but he wasn't worried that much. Noisemakers had been laid out around the circumference, and furthermore, their trump card, Sorcery Landmines, had been laid out. They were also going to be used for the engagement this time, these new weapons.
Made of iron and as large as a human child, it looked like a wine barrel seen in bars. Ordinary at a glance, and junk if slandering it.
However, the magic power crammed into it was absurd, and if it exploded, it could inflict a great deal of damage.
There were wielders of large destructive power, so-called Sorcerers, but there was a reason why they were not often used on the battlefield. One couldn't gather a large amount of them, and they took time and money to train. Incidentally, if one raised someone with no talent, it would be impossible for them to utilize magic-that was decided by the Magical Capacity they had from birth. No examples exist so far of people who have acquired that postnatally.
Moreover, it demanded considerable time to chant before using sorcery. The time to chant would increase in proportion to increasing power, and it could not be used continuously. There was also the fatal flaw that once one's magical power was exhausted, magic would become unusable. In other words, for large scale engagements, it would more efficient by far to mass produce cheap arrows and let them fly.
In the time it would take to unleash sorcery one time, ordinary soldiers could shoot 100 arrows. This was "Strength in Numbers."
Sorcery was just that inefficient, but its destructive power was guaranteed. Every nation conducted research, looking for a way to make it practical. By the Empire's Sorcery Engineering Department, and based the excavated technology from the Labyrinth City:
A weapon having the power of one Sorcerer had succeeded in being manufactured. That, was the Sorcery Landmine. It took a lot of time to make, to pour magic power into the special metal barrel, to write down the chant incantation, and to just be careful.
And then, when the Sorcerer would chant the keyword, or when the iron barrel detected an action that would make it detonate, it would immediately explode.
—-Simply put, it could also detonate simply by being stepped on.
"A scary weapon has finally been made man. Eventually, there'll come an era when we can't walk freely."
"The guys laying them have to be careful else they will be in danger too though."
"Honestly what an annoying matter. We also have to clear them or else."
An earth-shattering explosion blasted underneath the soldiers that were joking around.
"A landmine exploded from the forest!"
"Oi! Who tripped it!? The enemy, an ally!?"
Someone set off a landmine. While praying that it wasn't a comrade, they hastened to check.
"The flag of the Kingdom's Third Army! A raid from the enemy cavalry is coming!!"
"So they've come!"
The mercenary soldiers stood up.
"The enemy set off the landmines; their men and soldiers seem to be in disarray!"
A first news came from a reconnaissance soldier.
"This's our best chance! Everyone has already completed preparations!"
"Let's go Commanding Officer!"
"Finally a time to make some profit!"
"Alright, Regulars tighten the defences on the storehouse!! Mercenaries follow me! With the enemy in chaos, we'll bring them down in one breath!!"
The Mercenary Commanding Officer jumped onto his horse, unsheathed his large sword, and raised an enthusiastic shout to intercept them.
The Kingdom's cavalry had fallen into turmoil. They had exited the woods and plunged into an open field area, and at the last moment when they were going to charge at the storehouse, they received some kind of attack. The ground had erupted, the horses were swept off their feet, and there were many victims among the soldiers. It was as if they had received a sorcerous attack. However, there was not a hint of a sorcerer figure.
The Cavalry Commanding Officer raised his voice while the color drained from his face.
"Heeeyyyy! We've come this far, we can no longer retrace our steps! Put your attitude in order and charge!! Attack!!"
"B-but Commanding Officer, our h-horses are stunned and are not listening to us!"
"Can't you bastards handle even a single horse sufficiently!!? What was all the daily training for!?"
"E-even if you say that, shit, your orders—-"
"Damn it! Shit-, Arrows—-"
"C-commanding Officer, we are being shot at by bows! We have been found out!!"
Many arrows pierced the bodies of the unit soldiers having a difficult time pulling at the reigns. The Liberation Army garrison had noticed them. The Cavalry Commanding Officer's spirits rose when the soldiers who rode on horseback arrived from the storehouse's direction. Their opponents did not number many. They should be able to do it.
Or so the Cavalry Commanding Officer judged.
"We'll be sniped at if we stay like this!! Those that can move follow me!! Forward-!!"
He hoisted his spear, kicked his horse's stomach, and started the assault. Further explosions roared again behind him, but he did not have the luxury to turn around. He could hear the sounds of hoofbeats, so they probably had not been annihilated. No matter what damage they sustained, it would not be a problem if they could just destroy the storehouse. Strike and then break away was the cavalry's duty.
—-Cavalry and cavalry crashed face to face, both with momentum behind them.
"Your head is mine!"
"Silence rebel scum! Become rust on my spear!"
"Just try it, dog of the Kingdom-!"
The Cavalry Commanding Officer and the Mercenary Commanding Officer brandished their weapons and clashed.
The one who lost the bout,
—-was the Commanding Officer of the Cavalry.
Mercenary soldiers rushed to his body which had fallen off his horse. They too were frantic since if they took the head, they could get a monetary reward.
"The enemy commander has been killed!! Just like him, slaughter the Kingdom's army-!!"
The Mercenary Commanding Officer vocalized from the depths of his stomach. This was for no other reason than to raise the morale of his comrades and to crush the enemy's will. While shaking the clots of blood from his sword, he sonorously touted his sword.
"If we win, we can expect a reward!"
The cavalry whose commander had been killed was completely disheartened. Individuals were surrounded and wounded, and their numbers diminished.
"S, Shit-! Hahh, stay away!"
"—-Woah, hehe- Like that spear will hit me!"
"You're full of openings! Die-!!"
Aiming for the gap inbetween spear thrusts, a mercenary's sword approached the body of the Kingdom's soldier. That instant,
The face of the Kingdom's soldier instantly was dyed bright red. The face of the enemy soldier that had been aiming at him was hideously gouged out and removed. It was the spurt of blood from that that had rained on his entire body.
"If your horse will not listen to you, then dismount and fight. Come on, if you do not want to die, hurry up!!"
"Hereon, I will take over command!! If our opponents don't have a leader, they are just regular mercenaries! Calm down and kill them!!"
"What a miserable voice, I'll be the one to kill you!!"
"Good-! Give them no quarter and mow them down-!!"
Schera inspired the cavalry with a heroic voice that did not match her visage. Even in this situation, her large scythe had harvested the lives of three mercenaries.
"—-I wonder if that mercenary guy is the commander. His movements are different from the others'."
She identified a bearded horseman cutting down cavalry of the Kingdom with a large sword. She licked her lips, turned her beloved horse in his direction, and charged. Deciding to obstruct the charge from a rider, mercenaries gallantly turned their swords and spears towards her.
Schera massacred those riff-raff prey, flourishing her scythe like a windmill. Helmets were crushed, heads were severed, and blood spray gushed out from gouged limbs. Schera's path of advance was immediately stained red.
"You're the mercenary group's commander-!? Your head please!!"
"A brat with a damn cheeky charade-!! Go to hell-!!"
When Schera held her scythe aloft resolutely, the mercenary Commanding Officer grinned and chuckled. His own large sword would clearly be faster. Faster than the large scythe could swing downward, his own sword would pierce her body.
He quickly visualized the path of his sword. His sword sailed with practiced movements. Satisfactory power went into his upper arm. It was a simple cut. His expertise in combat swordsmanship had gotten him out of life and death situations many times.
"I've got you!!"
The Mercenary Commanding Officer's brandished sword was flicked away by the scythe's handle, and there with his balance broken, Schera swung down her prized weapon with all her power.
The Mercenary Commanding Officer's body was vertically cleaved in two. Helmet, armor, and the horse's head were all involved.
'Unbelieve,' said his bloodshot eyes. His body opened up, and while a feeble breath leaked out from his oval mouth split in half, he died.
"Quite an artistic cadaver I've made. Won't this be hard to clean up?"
After gazing at the red-dyed body dead from their duel, she spun her large scythe to clean it and vigorously thrusted it at the skies.
"The enemy commander, has been killed!! Cavalrymen, continue to exterminate the dogs of the rebel army-!!"
This was an off-the-cuff mercenary force after all. If their commander that unified them were to be killed, they would promptly collapse.
"C, commander has been done in-!"
"Run! I ain't gunna die in a place like this!"
Mercenaries would absolutely not betray while receiving pay, but they would run. As the saying goes, Life Comes First, and they started fleeing.
"Kill them; don't leave anyone alive!! Send every last one of them to hell-!!"
"Follow Vice Commander Schera!!"
"Cavalry of the Kingdom, Charge!! Trample them-!! Squash them-!!"
With her face painted with blood, Schera gave her orders with a merry look. The cavalry members who had their morale forcibly pulled back up ran through the mercenaries who showed their backs and crushed them underfoot.
The Garrison Commander protecting the storehouse, seeing the mercenaries take to their heels, decided to evacuate. He took only some armaments and safely escaped without fighting. The goods there were of course valuable too, but he deemed that he could not lose his precious troops in this place. Moreover, this was not the only food storehouse. It was just that this one was the most used. Therefore, it would be best to avoid further wasting the lives of 1000 regular soldiers
Having judged that, the commander evacuated without a single crossing of swords.
The cavalry unit had sustained a little less than 500 casualties in the initial chaos. The mercenary company was almost annihilated, and the survivors had escaped to Salvador Fortress. It was Schera and her group's victory, though they had lost their commander.
—-One hour later.
Having gained control of the food storehouse, the cavalry unit performed an inspection of the goods left behind. They carried away important documents and left behind the large quantities of food, weapons, and warhorses. Among those were several Sorcery Landmines, which had tortured Schera and company earlier, that had been left behind. Naturally, they did not know what they were, and it happened that they would interrogate the mercenaries taken prisoner.
There were dozens of mercenaries taken prisoner with their hands bound behind their back, preventing them from moving around, and their miserable figures were brought before Schera.
Each and every face was caked with dirt, but there were none suffering from fatal injuries it seemed. They had rebellious expressions that showed they would flee if given a chance.
"Well then, I have some things I would like to ask you, I wonder if you do not mind."
"Heh-, like anyone would answer—-"
'Don't fuck with us,' said the prisoner who spit out a wad of sputum; his head was silently sent flying. Left behind, the torso of the sorrowful mercenary tumbled forward. Not only the prisoners, but the Kingdom's soldiers were also dumbfounded.
As a consequence of his excessively defiant conduct, he was promptly silenced. They were shocked that a person could die so easily. It was as if he wasn't a human, but a vegetable being harvested.
"That's unfortunate. Then, next."
The crooked edge gleamed, and it stood in front of the next sacrifice. The prisoner twisted his body, trying to escape, but a soldier of the Kingdom held his shoulders firmly.
"What is this, thing, used for? Will you tell me?"
Schera pointed at the metal barrel that had been moved behind her.
"Uh, t-that. It, it's just an ordinary barrel! It's for preserving foo—-
The man could not continue his words. Schera smiled and cut off his head.
That thing that had fallen there was in the way, so she briskly kicked it away. It tumbled around while scattering red fluid everywhere.
"Lies are no good okay? Aren't they just a waste of time?"
The large amount of blood that gushed out painted the bodies of the other prisoners. Schera walked in front of the next sacrifice.
"What is this, thing?"
"W-wait. We're just regular mercenaries-don't kill us! We'll fight for the Kingdom from"
His words were interrupted, and the large scythe swooped down. There were still many more sacrifices. The man who should have been the next sacrifice, unable to bear the terror, revealed the classified information.
"T, that, a Sorcery Landmine. It's a weapon of the Empire that explodes when stepped on or directed to by a Sorcerer. I don't know the details-. Really! S, so, don't kill me! Please!"
"H, hey! The fuck you telling her for!? Do you not have any pride as a merce—-"
"Thanks for informing me. Only you will be spared."
After slaughtering the prisoner that protested, she freed the man who answered from his bonds. Her expression was that of a normal girl's smile. If her body was smeared with blood that is.
"Am, am I okay? R, really?"
"Hurry up and go. You, are truly a blessed man you know? Here, food and money. I'll also give you one of the many horses over there. It's fine if you also take a weapon you like. —-Well then, take care of yourself."
Schera handed over a small bag with money and food in it and prompted him to quickly go away.
The man appeared that he could not believe it, but soon, shedding tears and with head lowered, he got on a horse and swiftly left.
"Vice Commander Schera! What about the rest?"
"We can't take them with us. Kill everyone. I no longer have anything else to ask them. Spare no one and wipe them out."
Schera ran her index finger sideways across her own neck. Seeing that, the soldier of the Kingdom shuddered and responded.
"Make the execution swift and serene. It's quite bad if you don't cut precisely at the base you know? If you don't do it properly, it's awfully painful. Kill them assuredly."
"No, no! Spare me!"
"I, I'll say anything! So please wait-!"
"I don't want to die!"
"Shut up! Act like adults-!"
"You've survived this long, have some shame-!"
The soldiers of the Kingdom poised with their weapons while shouting and started the judgement of the prisoners. Angry voices, jeers, and then screams of death agonies resounded at the storehouse many times.
Schera seemed to enjoy listening to them, while looking around the food warehouse and snatching food until she was completely satisfied. It was an all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink full course smorgasborg. 'Is this heaven?' Schera thought. She stuffed a disgusting amount of food into a cloth bag and fastened it to her horse.
"We should withdraw soon. I'm reluctant to, but as per the plan, we shall start the fire. We don't have time to eat everything. Truly unfortunate, but there's no recourse."
She said with a sorrowful expression, staring at the food piled high near her.
"Have you guys also grabbed as much food as you can? It would be a waste, so make sure to squeeze them in properly. One can't fight sufficiently on an empty stomach wouldn't you say?"
Schera viewed the horses of every group member. Every bag was full.
"A-as per your orders, we have stuffed them."
"There's no problem then. Ahh, let's also take one of those Sorcery Landmines just in case. It's heavy, but that can't be helped."
The group members scattered oil and began to start preparations to set fire. Schera took a deep breath and jumped upon her horse.
To her rushed some cavalry with their faces changed color while kicking up a cloud of dust.
"Vice Commander Schera!! Bad news-!!"
He was a cavalry performing a reconnaissance of the vicinity. His faces was taut with complete anxiety and cold sweat flowed like rain.
"What made you this flustered? I wonder, you seem so hungry that you're about to die. If you're fine with some bread, you can eat this one. It looks hard on the outside, but it's quite good. It really is hard though."
Schera took out a rock hard loaf of bread, but the cavalryman raised his voice, saying that this was not the occasion for it.
"T-this is not the occasion for bread-!!"
"You don't like bread? We also have jerky if that's the case."
"I, I'm not hungry-! This is about A, Alucia Plains. Our Kingdom's army was defeated! The Third Army Corps has sustained devastating casualties. General Yalder is currently on the retreat!!"
All the cavalry were astir with commotion. They could not believe this sudden information.
"Ridiculous. The Third Army was 80,000 strong! There's no way they would lose to the rebel army!"
"I do not know the details! However, the reality is that the Kingdom's army is being pursued!"
The soldier reported the defeat of the Kingdom's army, and his breathing was rough. He fell from his horse, sprawled out, and rested his body. His ridden horse was also on the verge of collapse-both men and horse probably used all their energy to run here.
—-This information that they did not want to believe, was not false.
"Vice Commander Schera, we, have to hurry and pull back to Branch Castle Antigua. That enemy pursuit force will come along at any time now."
"A report that their storehouse has fallen should have reached them I fear. It is just a matter of time until they return here!"
"Calm down. Acting confused is also no good. In times like this especially, be composed."
Schera pulled out a luxury item, chocolate, from the bag fastened to her horse, and bit into it. Schera's heart was vitalized by the bewitching sweetness.
"H, hey. Someone's coming here again. A, are we okay!?"
Cavalry instructed with even more urgent information rushed to them. Their armor had many arrows protruding from it, and their blood flowed from their faces. They were cavalry heading towards troop headquarters to report the results of the battle.
Having heard of the Third Army's defeat, their destination was no longer Antigua Branch Castle however.
"A-Antigua has already fallen, and the Liberation Army's flag is waving from it! O-our cavalry unit, is completely, is completely isolated!"
"—-H, hey. This's a joke right?"
"If that place has fallen, then, where do we return."
The cavalry members had gone beyond agitation, and they could only be lost for words. This area was completely enemy-controlled territory. Nearby was enemy headquarters Salvador Fortress. The base of the Kingdom's Army, Branch Castle Antigua, was occupied by the enemy. —-The cavalry numbered 2,500 all together. For them, there was no longer a place they should return to.
"V, Vice Commander Schera, we......"
"What, what should we do?"
"Vice Commander Schera!"
To advance was hell. To return was hell. The information that their food storehouse had been attacked had probably already reached the enemy.
Furthermore, there was no doubt that the Liberation Army that had participated in the engagement was coming to surround them. Their situation was now switching to that of total annihilation.
Would they throw away their swords, dismount from their horses, and humiliatingly surrender? Or, would they assault the enemy stronghold and have the glory of dying in battle? Although it would be difficult, would they open up a means of escape and repatriate to the eastern region that was their homeland?
At any rate, as the current commander of this unit, Schera's decision would decide their fates.
".......Want some chocolate?"
In response to the cavalry unit's gazes directed towards her, which seemed to cling to her for help, Schera with not a feeling of uneasiness smiled innocently like a child.
And then, after forcibly breaking it into bite-sized pieces, she shoved the chocolate into the mouths of all the group members, and deliciously licked the melt stuck to her hands.
In front of Schera's eyes was an armory with many of the Liberation Army's equipment left behind. While slowly sending her brain nutrition, she started pondering whether or not they could do it with what they had.
—-The Kingdom's Third Army Corps, was defeated on the Alucia Plains.
Presently, they were on the retreat with the Royal Capital Liberation Army in hot pursuit. The damage was enormous, and Antigua Branch Castle had fallen.