Oukoku e Tsuzuku Michi - Chapter 67
There is a strange silence as the two armies stare at each other.
There are more than a thousand barbarians gathered in front of us. They haven’t formed any lines and lookare closer to a dumpling so the numbers can’t be counted accurately. Everyone is riding a horse, and they could reach us within three minutes. For this amount of enemies to gather, it is quite a tremendous sight.
The troops I have set up camp in a somewhat elevated village number 2000, which is close to double their totalnumbers, but in this open area without a defense facility against over a thousand cavalry, it can’t be said that we have an advantageous position. And what we are after is a complete victory. We have to defeat them here without exception, and then chase them into their territory and thoroughly annihilate them.
「First, let’s do things according to theory.」
「Yes. Long spearmen, defensive formation against cavalry, archers remain inside.」
The long spearmen, a staple of fighting against cavalry, will form a spearwall and the archers and bow gun squad will be placed behind it. If the enemy cavalry manage to avoid becomingdon’t become skewered by the spears, then the only choice will be to slow them down by swinging the spears at them. Then, you would shoot arrows at them – it’s common sense that even the ten mercenary captains know.
The ally spearmen advances towards the front. When the spears and arrows stop the enemy’s feet, normal infantry will be closed in like an avalanche to bring it to a melee battle and kill the mobility of the cavalry.
「If this settles things, it would be such a letdown.」
Around me areis Celia, as usual, the vice-commander Leopolt, and Irijina, who is commanding my private army, which has inflated to 100 people.
「That will make things easier, but if possible, I don’t want it to be decided yet.」
「Why not? Is it because the thing you have prepared in advance will go to waste?」
「That’s not it. If the enemy is defeated like this, then a large portion of them will escape. Based on the number of our cavalry, we won’t be able to chase all of them down. If we let half of them return, then we would fight again in their base. Thus, I want things to be decidedto decide things here.」
Indeed, I feel sorry for the soldiers but looking at the big picture, there is also this way of thinking. I watch over the state of battle while hoping that they do things moderately without dying.
「Are we not going out there yet!?」
Irijina seems like she was going to jump in there now, but she won’t go this time.
「We have a plan. We will be waiting on standby here, the private army will not be moving from defending the headquarters either.」
Celia is trying to learn without taking her eyes off, and even if I pet her, it doesn’t look like she’ll complain at all.
Our allies are formed into neat ranks and advancing slowly while the barbarians are still grouped up and moving entirely as a dumpling. They have always moved together in groups of around 50 people. So it might be that they have never tried to act together in such large numbers before.
「Those guys are moving!」
One of the barbarians, wearing fancy bird’s feathers on his head and shoulders, makes me believe that he has some special standing. That man comes out in front of everyone and unsheathes his sword, turning to face our approaching allies.
「Yeah, he’s coming.」
Shouts come from among the barbarians, then they face our allies and they all charge all at once. It’s hard to say that their movements are aligned, but regardless of them running amok in chaos, they don’t collide with each other or fall off their horses.
「It’s very enemy-like regarding the way they handle their horses.」
「I also want the cavalry from our army to learn from this too.」
The distance between ally and enemy closed instantly. Our allies prepared to defend against the charge, they stuck out their spears to stop the enemy from progressing. On the other hand, the barbarians do not lower their speed and rush straight into the forest of spears.
「Don’t tell me they’re going to rush in like this!?」
Celia looks up at my face. She’s cute, but that’s not what they’re doing.
「Have you forgotten their skills of shooting their arrows from horseback? They intend to break the spearmen using their bows.」
But, at that time, our own archers will also be firing at them. If we end up going even in our first collision with them, then the scales will tip in our favor since we have the superior numbers.
However, contrary to expectations, the enemy doesn’t fire their arrows and continue to approach our formation. Then as soon as I was thinking this, they instantly changed their directions, starting to run along the side of our ranks. Then, while the spearmen are still facing sideways, arrows were rained on them.
Anticipating that they will be receiving them head-on, our allies had placed shields in front of them and directed all their strength to their spears, but having a hail of arrows fired at them at point blank range instantly decimated the spearmen.
Moreover, their attack is not over. Right after the cavalry fired their arrows sideways one after the other, in a flash, a succeeding squad penetrated through the collapsed ranks. If the defense from the spears are gone, then the archers behind them are vulnerable. They won’t be able to defend against the charging cavalry.
「That was well done. Even though they seem all over the place, they actually employ tactics.」
「That’s right. I guess they were confident in their archery skills on horseback and didn’t feel the need to form ranks.」
Leopolt and I were calmly analyzing them but Irijina and Celia are making a fuss.
「Hey! The vanguard got destroyed!? Then they would be able to dig into the center.」
「Seeing their number, our entire squad will be crushed. Let’s use our own cavalry to fight against them!」
If I didn’t understand the situation, then I might have panicked and done the same thing. I give Leopolt a quick glance.
「Give the order for the whole army to retreat.」
Leopolt uses his hand to order the trumpets, and several of them were blown. It’s the signal to retreat.
The soldiers were all dumbfounded but after they heard it, they all began to withdraw at once. In this situation, withdrawal could only been fleeing away. If they were late in doing so, that would only been death, so everyone is fighting to be the first to retreat.
Celia is noisy, but I don’t answer her other than petting her head.
Seeing this chance at breaking our forces all too soon, the barbarians instantly rushed in like surging waves to settle the fight, mixing in with our allies and penetrating deeply into our forces.
「Now’s a good time.」
「Alright, do it.」
Leopolt gives the signal, and the flagbearer on top of the watchtower raised a red flag. That was the signal.
It wasn’t an especially loud sound, and it wasn’t like a giant boulder was rolling. But quietly, water was flowing into the battlefield. Unrest befell both armies as the water flows towards themselves. Floods are one of the most frightening natural disasters in the central plains, where the climate is typically stable.
The soldiers fell into a state of panic temporarily, but the chaos was resolved soon after. The reason was simple, because the flowing water came from their ankles up to at most their shins. In addition, it didn’t have enough force to push people around, just flowing calmly and eventually the water stopped. The soldiers even forgot that they were running away at one point and looked to each other to ask what was going on.
「This is what two days worth of damming the river looks like?」
「The river here is a small one, splitting off from the origin of spring water. Even after the rain increased its volume, it’s only this much.」
The prepared plan is this: adjustments were made to the flood control to expand the reservoir temporarily to accumulate water and after receiving the signal, the dam is to be broken and the water will flow to a wider plains area of a lower altitude.
「Although I understood it, as a trump card, it looks pretty pathetic.」
If it was a turbulent muddy stream that washed through the enemy and flushed them away, then it would be quite dramatic though.
「But in that case, it would also wash out our own troops……besides, although it looks plain, the battle has been settled.」
「Settled? Water of that extent at most could only make a puddle……」
After saying that, Celia widened her eyes in surprise.
The situation on the battlefield was turned around completely. The ally infantries who spread out only had their feet wet by the mud, but the disastrous scene befalling the barbarians filled our eyes. It made their earlier brilliant handling of their horses seem like a lie – some of them fell over together with their horses, some of them lost their balance and dropped off their horses, some who managed to stand back up but bumped into those beside them causing all of them to fall down – everywhere you looked was a tragic mayhem.
「What the heck is this about!? What is happening to them?」
Leopolt answers Irijina’s question.
「This land was originally low and had damp ground and is a place with bad drainage, and although the surroundings have flood control for the sake of cultivating the fields, a little rain is no problem but……」
Leopolt looks at the burst open dam.
「If you pour in a large amount of additional war, it will become a quagmire immediately.」
A quagmire is fatal for something like cavalry. The horses are heavy and will not be able to move on the soft mud, and you might even twist their legs if you forcefully try to do so. They could not possibly prance through on horseback.
The cavalry with their feet stuck are now sitting ducks.
「Take back the order to retreat. Have the entire army attack collectively, have the cavalry make a detour to a dry place and wait for the enemies.」
The trumpet sounds and the troops that were retreating were able to reform their ranks after losing the enemies that were pursuing them. Meanwhile, the enemy is struggling in the mud and it took all their effort just to pull free one at a time, so forming ranks is impossible for them.
An order to attack was issued by each commander where arrows rained down and the spearmen formed a quilt of spears and rushes in. The cavalry who lost their ability to move were taken out like non-resistant sacrifices. A portion of the enemy abandoned their horses and tried to fight as infantry, but when they got off their horses, they were inferior in all areas – equipment, physique, leadership – so as expected, they were defeated one after the other.
「If possible, I’d like to go out too.」
Schwartz neighs as if stopping me. Well, he’s heavy too so he would obviously sink.
「Please restrain yourself. There is already no need for Lord Hardlett to go. They will say that you’re stealing their credit.」
You’re telling me that it’s sometimes nice to just watch from the back as a commander, but that’s boring. Although there is something I’m curious about.
「Leopolt, is there any meaning in killing all of them?」
「I think it would be better to kill them all, since they would come again if you let them run.」
「I won’t let them escape but you don’t need to kill those who can’t move anymore. What do you think about capturing them?」
Leopolt twisted his neck. If the opponent is from the Knights’ Order then we have an option to ask for ransom, but we can’t hope for that from the mountain tribe. Rather, I’m doubtful whether they even understand the concept of currency.
「Is there meaning to it?」
「Well you can see that there are women among them. Aegir-sama is probably going to thoroughly gobble them up after saving them.」
Celia cuts in and the atmosphere froze.
「That’s not it, well it’s partly true, but it’s not only that. They are skilled cavalry. So if we can possibly persuade them, then rather than turning our peasants into soldiers, I think they would make for a far greater help.」
Celia responds that it’s still because I want a woman to play with and Leopolt has gone into thinking.
「……That’s true. They will make great soldiers, but I am unable to determine whether it’s possible to persuade them or not. I’ll give the order to capture them if possible. If we catch them and nothing becomes of it, we can just kill them then.」
Because horses can’t be used, messengers run towards each squad. I’ll just give up on the guys who got killed before the order is received, they’re just unlucky. I do hope that as few beauties are killed as possible though.
The battle in the wetlands is roughly decided, and the ones who somehow managed to escape were pursued by the awaiting spear cavalry. Since switching from killing to capturing in the middle, not all of them have been killed off, but there were many mountain tribe corpses in the quagmire. Among them, there were a few women and children too.
「It makes me sick when I see young women dead like this.」
「Those guys turned everyone into soldiers and collided with us. It’s natural for them to be defeated.」
Celia says that, but when she saw the remains of a young-looking boy, she also closed her eyes and furrowed her brows.
The soldiers are hunting for survivors right now. They pressure the living ones into surrendering and those who resist or cannot be saved were finished off with their blades.
Out of the total 1200 enemy soldiers, 500 were killed, 600 were captured and not more than 100 have escaped. On the other hand, the casualties suffered by the eastern army was more or less 100 and none of them were from the private army or the laborers. The enemy forces are completely wiped out and we are able to resume our march. The light cavalry are already confirming the whereabouts of the enemy base and are tailing the escaping soldiers.
It can be said that we won both tactically and strategically.
「But the problem is this.」
On top of it being flooded, the land has over 2000 people trampling around during the fighting. Adolph had worked hard to control flooding and the fields that he created were irreparably destroyed.
「You will be the one explaining it.」
「Understood. If there wasn’t flood control, then it would have gotten slushy after the first rain, and the plan would not have unfolded. He should also rejoice at that.」
「……No, actually I’ll do it.」
If I let him say it, it will become a fight without a doubt. The troublesome explanations are also the superior’s responsibility, how annoying.
I’ll be using Irijina as a body pillow to sleep tonight. She’d be fine even if I hug her tightly, and it’s quite sensual so it’s worth hugging her.