The sky is free of clouds and the clear air is refres.h.i.+ng. At the same time, the almost painful frigidity reminds me I’m in the extreme cold of the Federation.
As I exhale, my breath rises slowly in a wispy stream of white like the cloud of a smoke signal. It made me feel like I became a dragon and I was breathing flames from my mouth.
Troops dressed in pure white are partially surrounding the hill in front of us.
Not a hair was out of place and n.o.body even twitched, making the formation of soldiers look more like part of the scenery than a wonderfully organized army.
The white uniforms of the Olga Federation blend in immaculately with the white of the snow covering the battlefield, bringing out the vibrant colors of the flags scattered all over the place even more.
I could vaguely see small figures shaped like humans on top of the hill as well, but it wasn’t distinct to me because of the distance.
The only thing I could make out with certainty was the red of the waving flags notifying me of the Imperial army’s presence.
「The army has gotten into position.」
「The soldiers have been deployed according to the terrain with 2500 in the middle, 2000 on the right wing, and 500 on the left wing.」
The commander of the Iruisk army – whose name I heard once and then forgot – stays silent as the adjutant gives a report.
As if that was a regular occurrence, the man acting as the adjutant remains calm and waits his orders.
Fufufu, his adjutant is a dirty man while I have the cute Celia beside me. The victor is clear.
He may have heard a voice leak out as the adjutant glares at me, turning Celia red.
She clears her throat to regain her composure before speaking up.
「The slope of the hill is comparatively gentler from the middle to the right side, plus there is path available to use. On the other hand, there is a steep incline on the left side and no path, making it hard for us to attack but easy for them to defend.」
Celia seems to be competing with the other adjutant as she offers a concise explanation in a rather uptight manner, although that just makes her cute. When I pat her, she relaxes a little.
「……the enemy is on top of a hill with a good vantage point. Our formation will be in full view no matter which route we take so we might as well go boldly from the front.」
The commander raises his hand.
Taking that as a signal, the commanding officers as well as the adjutant start moving altogether.
「It’s a frontal attack! Center and right wing, position your light infantry in the front! Left wing, have the archers advance forward!」
The white, single-toned army maintains their formation and marches forward.
I couldn’t help but utter simple words of praise as I watch the white carpet move.
「What a splendid display.」
The slightest smile appears to form on the faces of the commander and his adjutant.
It was as if they were trying to say “What do you think of this? It’s nothing like your army, right?”
「I-I will train so that I won’t lose to them!」
Alright Celia, you’re a good girl.
The commander speaks without s.h.i.+fting his gaze from the front.
「First we need to encounter the enemy once to confirm their skill and position. We can’t see how they move if we stay at the bottom of the hill.」
He doesn’t say a word after that.
Hmm, I guess I can’t do anything if guys don’t like me, I’m feeling out of place here.
My only friends here are Celia and Natia who came as an escort.
It doesn’t seem like Pipi will understand.
I hear Schwartz neigh.
Oh, so he’s saying that he wants to counted as one of my friends too? He surprisingly has some cute points.
「”Don’t pull on my mane, it’s getting on my nerves”, he says.」
Well Natia, that cancelled out all his cuteness.
How irritating, let me fart on this guy.
c.r.a.p! That was pretty loud.
It was louder than I thought plus it’s pretty stinky.
Everyone’s looking at me coldly.
This is all your fault, Schwartz.
「Arrows are coming from the enemy camp!」
The incoming enemy attack changed the undesirable atmosphere.
Those arrows came flying at the approaching allied forces.
However none of the soldiers panic, instead a few lookouts strained their eyes.
「Number of arrows, about 1000! The enemy has a minimum of 1000 archers.」
「The coordination of their shooting is at a moderate level, nowhere close to our army!」
「Their accuracy is poor. I believe they’re firing barely within range.」
I’m surprised. They can tell that much?
The vanguard unit exposed to the arrows doesn’t seem particularly fazed.
Normal soldiers are carrying either short spears or swords and a somewhat large s.h.i.+eld.
From what I can see, they don’t look very heavy, however they’re strong enough to deflect arrows.
Obviously there are a few who get hit, but the hole is quickly filled up by reserve forces and the formation maintains order.
「Our allied archers have begun to fire!」
The difference in elevation puts the enemy at a slight advantage for a brief moment before the distance is closed by the steady advance of the army.
A fierce exchange of arrows begins and countless projectiles fly in between the two sides.
Even with all that going on, our allies don’t stop marching and start climbing the hill.
The Imperial army sends some soldiers running down the hill to meet with our allies.
Enemy soldiers line up holding mainly spears and other weapons with long reach.
Having to get through pole arms in addition to climbing the hill is tough, but perhaps because of the difference in skill, our allies seem to be gradually pus.h.i.+ng the enemy back.
「The attack is going well. We’ve got the upper hand in a straight-up fight. At this rate, we may unexpectedly――」
Right as the adjutant was about say something, a dust cloud starts to rise from the middle of an allied camp.
Several s.h.i.+eld-bearing soldiers get blown backwards, naturally throwing the formation into disarray.
「No, it’s probably a ballista. I could see the projectile.」
As expected, even I can’t quite see the ball flung out from a cannon.
The commander looks at me strangely. I just told him important information, so why?
「That’s reasonable. Those guys should be disposable sacrificial p.a.w.ns. I don’t think they would entrust valuable cannons to them.」
「―― I guess so. Still, it poses a problem for us.」
It looks like they’ve got more than one too. More and more dust clouds rise up in the allied camp, causing chaos within the army.
Even though it’s impressive their attack is persistent, the battle is a back and forth affair.
「This isn’t enough as expected. We’ll only increase our losses.」
The commander scowls.
「If only our army had cannons……」
「We lent them to the river fleet so they’re on water now.」
「It would be nice if they were still above water…… they might have been sunk already.」
The adjutants voice their frustrations.
From what it sounds like, it’s true that they’re not doing too favorably on the water.
「In any case, we can’t beat them. The enemy has the angle on us when they’re shooting from the top of the hill. If we had cannons which can only shoot in a straight line……」
I try saying something believable. It’s not like I’m feeling lonely from being left out of the conversation or anything.
All of a sudden, everyone’s eyes focus on me.
「Lord Hardlett has experience using a cannon?」
「Goldonia has a cannoneer unit?」
c.r.a.p, I got ahead of myself. I have to deceive them.
「In the past, I’ve been shot at many times in battle, hahaha! It was a painful experience.」
「A real cannon in the Central plains?」
「No, that can’t be. There shouldn’t have been any trades for genuine cannons or gunpowder.」
「If that’s the case, is the Empire trying to poke their nose in the Central Plains?」
c.r.a.p, I’m in deep s.h.i.+t now. I’ll leave the rest to you.
I push Celia forward and touch her a.s.s while I’m at it.
「ahem! Hardlett-sama has, in the past, travelled in your nation before――」
Take care of the rest please.
A fierce battle unfolds on the slanted plane between the allies climbing up the hill and the enemy trying to block the path with their spears.
The enemy’s forces are concentrated on the path up the hill with bolts from ballistae and arrows incessantly raining down.
Our ally soldiers and the commanding officers expectedly get tired of attacking and try detouring to the flank, although the enemy was tightly guarding the right wing, and there was a small group of spearmen stationed on the left wing enough to make climbing the steep slope near impossible.
The battle continues without a decisive blow being dealt to either side.
The adjutant speaks up after he finally loses his temper.
「We are in getting into a deadlock. The chance of us pus.h.i.+ng through is slim even if we continue the attack.」
「Our casualties are slowly piling up too. We gained information from this so this is a fine result as a test run. Shall we pull back for now?」
The commander seems to be considering the adjutant’s opinion.
But for me, wasting time fighting here and being late in the important arrival is troubling.
「No, isn’t it too early? We were able to learn something about the enemy, but the same can be said for the Empire.」
I talk while making a serious face.
They don’t seem likely to be receptive if I don’t have a strict look.
「Moreover, the arrows being shot from a high place is a threat. Now that we’ve brought the fight to them, it would be a waste to give that up.」
Seeing my resolute face, Celia twists and turns her body, while Natia turns red for some reason.
「I get what you’re saying. But if we dawdle here with the attack, we won’t make any decisive blow……」
I was waiting for those words.
「I will go. That’s why I came here after all.」
When I pull out my longsword, those in the headquarters gasp.
Did they think I was carrying it for show?
「……I can’t entrust our soldiers to Lord Hardlett when his standing hasn’t officially been determined yet.」
「I thought as much.」
「However, there shouldn’t be a problem in letting them accompany you.」
The soldiers will probably become disgruntled about having to be in the command of a strange man who appeared out of nowhere.
It’s easier to go wild if I’m alone anyways.
「I will charge in from the steep slope on the enemy’s left side.」
The commanders nod in silence while the adjutant orders the left wing army to mount a full offensive.
「An attack, you say!? The enemy is camped out on the slope pointing their spears at us! We’ll just be pushed back down after climbing up!」
「I know that! But the order has already been given. We have to advance now!」
The commanders curse as they transition to attack, while I casually approach from the side.
「Then on the signal, we’ll have three companies altogether…… -who are you!? W-what’s that big horse!?」
「You’re that person from Goldonia…… -what’s with that sword? It’s longer than a spear……」
「I got permission from the Corps Commander to take part in the attack as well. There’s no time for self introductions. You’re going to attack right? Let’s go then.」
I turn Schwartz’s head to face the hill in front of us.
The enemy has made contact with our allied forces and small skirmishes are breaking out here and there, but neither arrows or ballista bolts are flying.
I’m sure the enemy believes attacking from the left wing would be a challenge and has focused most of the reinforcements to the center instead.
「We’re charging in. Follow me!」
With a shout, I kick Schwartz lightly in the stomach and urge him to gallop forward.
Several commanders, waiting anxiously to give the attack order, get lured in to making their decisions now.
「H-hey! Climbing up the hill with a horse is not…… argh, fine! Begin the attack!」
「Our squad is the only one falling behind! Commence the attack, run, run!」
「The formation is a mess……」
Celia sounds uneasy, but the formation is going to mess up when we climb the hill anyways.
Right now, momentum is more important.
No matter how steep the hill is, it’s still simply a hill, and Schwartz runs up the slope without losing speed.
On the top of the ascent, the enemy is sticking their spears out at our allies who are trying to advance forward while defending with their s.h.i.+elds.
「a horse!? Guwah!」
I slash him with my sword as I pa.s.s by, then as that enemy is cut in half I move on to stab the next soldier and throw him down the hill.
「It’s easy to move around when there’s no fence, I like it.」
Schwartz neighs as if agreeing with me.
The slope eventually becomes steep enough that an average horse could not climb.
Yet Schwartz continued climbing regardless.
As the giant body made its way up, the enemy stares on with astonished faces.
I unreservedly cut down the dumbfounded enemies while riding up.
The closer I get to the peak, the more resistance I face.
「A spear wall?」
Utilizing the incline, the group of spears line up looking down the hill, causing Schwartz to decelerate a little.
Schwartz huffs and picks up speed.
「That’s an impressive horse but you’re an idiot!」
「How foolish to run into a wall of spears! Take him down!」
Schwartz and I rush in with great force.
Hey Schwartz, you didn’t agree with the first man?
When the spears thrust at us…… I swing my sword upward from below to brush away the tips.
Once the spearheads are deflected up, it takes time to reposition them properly.
As my bring my sword back, blood squirts out from several people getting cut.
At the same time, Schwartz kicks away enemies with his stupidly thick front legs.
It’s a good thing they were pointing their thrusts down.
The legs or belly of my horse could not be targeted like that.
That means their spears would inevitably point directly at me.
Except it isn’t a hard task to sweep away their spears.
When we reach the top of the hill, I skewer the man who appears to be the commander of the spearmen meant to stop us, lift him up above my head and then throw him away. That instantly shakes up all the spearmen, throwing their ranks into chaos and making them start to run away.
「Please wait, Aegir-sama!」
Climbing behind me is the desperate-looking Celia.
As expected, it is hard for horses other than Schwartz to run up the hill so she ran up without her horse instead.
「Natisan, please don’t go ahead by yourself! Aegir-sama’s number one is me!」
「Hm? Is that so?」
Natia looks to be easily hopping up the slope.
Elves are impressive like I thought, they’re comfortable on many different terrains.
It may only be a small group but the enemies seem visibly panicked when we get over the hill.
They start retreating before being blocked from behind, while the allied forces on the left wing climb up one after the other.
The enemy relying on the terrain for defense are few in pure numbers.
Plus the harsh fight in the middle means it would be hard for reinforcements to come. If forces were directed excessively to the side, the crucial center area may be broken through.
「Raise your victory cries!」
We only climbed the hill but I lift my sword and shout.
If we force the enemy to panic, we may see an unexpected chance for victory.
I’m not Leopolt or Tristan so I don’t understand complicated things.
What I do understand is that a fight is about momentum.
「I can’t hear you!」
Natia shouts half-heartedly so I squeeze her a.s.s hard.
After the loud scream, she glares at me with teary eyes and takes a knife out.
Save that for after the fight.
In any case, Natia’s shriek helped shake up the enemy.
Time to press all at once.
「All troops, charge! We’re going to proceed and flank the enemy in the center.」
「B-but the order from the Corps Commander was only to climb the hill, a further attack is not……」
「Stupid! If we let this chance slip away, the enemy will retreat and rebuild their forces. We have to go straight away!」
I shout in place of the sour-faced commanders.
「All troops, charge! No need to construct a formation! Press forward!」
While shouting, I dismount from my horse and run to the front of the soldiers.
In my left hand is the dragon s.h.i.+eld and in my right is the longsword.
The Federation soldiers were also holding s.h.i.+elds and spears so I wanted to match them.
By the way, I left Celia on Schwartz. It would be troubling if something happened to her after leaving my horse behind.
「Argh! It isn’t wrong that this is a chance! Go and charge!」
「Aah, the corps commander will get mad at me…… charge then……」
With a scattered formation, we rely only on momentum to charge, however a flank to the fierce fight unfolding in the middle would be fatal.
The ballistae change their aim to us.
「A large attack is coming! Be careful!」
I grip my longsword tightly and adjust the position of the dragonscale s.h.i.+eld in my hand.
The soldiers behind me falter when they hear the low hum of the bolts.
I keep my eyes on the large bolt soaring through the air and laugh when I remember a certain musclehead.
I swing my longsword and deflect the bolt.
The arrow spins out of control and flies off in another direction, though the impact causes my hand to tingle.
「The second one!」
I slice the tip of the bolt and drop it straight down.
「This is the last.」
I deflect the final bolt with my s.h.i.+eld. The arrow is redirected upward and breaks in two before rolling on the ground.
I check in front of me to see if anything else is coming.
It should be fine.
The jaws of all the Empire’s soldiers manning the ballistae have dropped to the floor.
The soldier holding the next bolt lets it roll to the floor.
Now is the time to take advantage of the enemy’s fear.
Shouting like a monster while baring my teeth, I charge straight at the place where all the ballistae are lined up.
Without a moment’s delay, the infantry draw their swords to defend the siege weapons but they are completely weak in the knees.
「Hiih! Stay away! Don’t come here!!」
They scream and swing their swords wildly as if they’re kids holding swords for the first time.
However this is the battlefield and I’m not going to show any mercy. Besides, they’re not women.
I strike through one of them from the shoulder to his crotch, and slice through another soldier in the opposite way from his crotch to his shoulder.
The spray of blood further compounds the enemy’s agitated state.
「D-defend with your s.h.i.+elds! Go as a group!」
A few enemies align their s.h.i.+elds and charge at me like a moving wall.
To match them, I prop up my s.h.i.+eld―― as a feint and run forward instead, unleas.h.i.+ng a front kick at them.
I get a good hit on one of them and send him flying along with his s.h.i.+eld.
Jumping in through the s.p.a.ce that opens up, I turn and deliver a sweeping slash from behind, taking out the s.h.i.+eldbearers as they let out deathroes.
「In an instant…… s-stop it…… stay away!! Gugeh!」
I end the last guy who I kicked away earlier by stabbing him in the chest and hurling him in the air.
「It’d be nice if I could take a bath after this……」
I slice in two the soldier flying high in midair and purposely bathe in the blood and guts.
After letting out an animalistic roar, I glare at the enemy.
Their unrest turns into screams.
「H-how can we go up against that!?」「There’s no way we can win against a monster! We’ll only be killed!」「Mamaー!!」
Seeing the infantry run away and leaving n.o.body to protect them, the soldiers manning the ballistae also abandon their weapons and run away as fast as they can.
This saves me the trouble of having to cut down each and every one of them. My whole body stinks of blood though.
I turn my attention to the others to see if they’re having a hard time fighting on top of the hill.
Our allies are riding the wave of momentum and pus.h.i.+ng through but the enemy is comparatively quick in responding.
Both ally and enemy alike are wielding similar s.h.i.+elds and short spears as they clash in an irregular abreast line formation.
「I’ll help too.」
The length of my longsword is comparable to that of their short spears. I have a s.h.i.+eld too.
I fill up the hole left by an ally who happens to be defeated and jump into the formation……though being covered in blood and guts makes the allies around me scrunch up their face in disgust, but that’s the price for silencing the ballistae. Just put up with it.
At the commanders’ orders, our allies stick out their spears while the enemies defend with their s.h.i.+elds.
When I thrust my longsword undauntedly, it pierces through s.h.i.+eld and enemy to stab the soldier in the back row as well.
That stuns the enemy.
「Hold out your s.h.i.+eldsー!!」
This time the enemy pushes their spears forward and our allies hold up their s.h.i.+elds to block.
Following orders, I also put up my s.h.i.+eld and slam it into the enemy.
The enemy’s spear and armor is crushed flat and blood squirts out as he tumbles into the other enemy soldiers.
「I see, this strategy is to alternate between offense and defense as we push forward.」
「……Aegir-sama is actually all offense though. You aren’t defending at all.」
Celia retorts smartly.
Well, I still haven’t gotten accustomed to using my s.h.i.+eld yet. I guess I’ll let them do their thing freely.
I jump on Schwartz again and rush into the struggling enemy’s formation.
I run right through the middle of the enemy formation and cut off the head of the commander who was in the middle of giving orders.
「This way is much faster.」
「Aegir-sama is the only one who can do that!」
I cut down the enemies closing in from the right while bas.h.i.+ng the enemies on the left with my s.h.i.+eld.
I deliberately leave the enemies in front of me to Schwartz who tramples over them.
Our ally commanders naturally don’t let the chance created by this mayhem slip and transition to a full fledged attack after breaking the formation apart.
Our left wing army was able to successfully launch a flank attack on the enemy’s main force in the center.
With the silencing of the ballistae and the flank attack, the back and forth fight quickly turned in favor of our allies.
The apt timing prompted an order for the entire army to mount an all-out attack, completely destroying the Imperial army.
The path to White City is now clear.
Protagonist: Aegir Hardlett. 24 years old. Winter.
Status: Goldonia Kingdom Margrave. Great Feudal Lord of Eastern Area. Mountain Legend. Friend of the Dwarves. Friend of the King of Aless. Dragon Slayer Hero.
Accompanying: Celia (escort, a.s.sistant), Marta (aide), Natia (temporary follower), Leah (temporary follower)
Brynhildr (temporary follower), Pipi (archer), Messerschmitt (worthless dog), Schwartz (horse)
Arbakin (Federation amba.s.sador), Mirumi (Quietly, in the deep ……)
Nonna (legal wife), Carla (concubine), Mel (concubine), Miti (concubine, expecting), Maria (concubine, expecting)
Catherine (concubine, expecting, craving), Melissa (lover), Kuu (lover), Ruu (lover), Mireille (lover)
Casie (ghost), Rita (maid), Yoguri (playwright), Alice (fallen into depravity)
Marceline (pregnant lover), Daughters – Stephanie (lover), Bridget (lover), Felicie (lover)
Sebastian (butler), Dorothea (capital mansion supervisor), Claudia (giant meatball), Clara (female attendant)
Felteris (perverted elf)
Lammy (plant caretaker), Alraune (plant), Pet.i.t Roper (growing)
Pochi (training lizard)
Irijina (commander), Luna (commander), Ruby, Myla (security officer, enraged)
Gido (escort unit), Polte (refugee case worker), Gretel (wife-dog-to-be)
Leopolt (staff officer), Adolph (domestic affairs official, thinning), Tristan (domestic affairs a.s.sistant, wanted)
Claire & Laurie (official merchant), Lilian (actress), Kroll (servant), Alma (servant)